Democratic Transition Publications
Social media is responsible for much positive change in the world. But these new tools can be used by bad actors to foment strife and undermine stability, as seen during violent incidents in the Assam state of northeast India in July 2012. Cybersecurity efforts must take into account the growing potential for cyber-attack using social media, where hoax messages are incorporated into a stream of otherwise legitimate messages, and understand how quickly mobile apps and text services can disseminate false information.
Long before it came to the Arab world, spring swept through sub-Saharan Africa. In 1990, Mozambique drafted its first multiparty, democratic constitution. The next year saw multiparty elections in what had been one-party states in Benin, Gabon, and Zambia, as well as the overthrow of Mali’s dictator and, subsequently, the election of new leaders. Every succeeding year brought new steps forward for democracy—in Ghana, Kenya, and the Republic of the Congo in 1992, and elsewhere on the continent in subsequent years. The world only paid attention when South Africa joined the ranks of democratic nations in 1994.
Egypt’s post-revolution constitution does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender or religion. It only recognizes women’s domestic role within a family “founded on religion, morality, and patriotism.” Clerics will have the final word over the new laws.
In 2013, millions of Israelis, Iranians, and Arabs will vote in at least 10 pivotal elections that will, in turn, address basic issues facing the Middle East. These countries have vast political, religious, ethnic, and economic differences. But most confront a common trend—the rise of the right or the religious right—that will influence elections as well as policies both at home and in the broader region.
To move forward, reforms must be ambitious. Simply reforming one institution in a sea of lawlessness leads nowhere; there must be a wide-ranging transformation of the political regime. Mexico's challenge is therefore to build modern, competent democratic institutions that are capable of engaging in good governance - only then will they be able to expand economic opportunity and restore economic growth.
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Arab Spring, the Middle East Program (MEP) invited a group of experts from the region, Europe, and the United States to contribute to this publication by answering the question, “Has the Arab Spring Lived Up to Expectations?”
Drawing on past work supported by the Cold War International History Program, the A. Ross Johnson and R. Eugene Parta apply lessons from successful U.S. international broadcasting during the Cold War to today’s transformed geopolitical, media, and technological world. They suggest a restatement of mission and corresponding organizational changes to ensure that international broadcasting remains an effective instrument of U.S. soft power – one supporting freedom and democracy abroad in the national interest.
In the Wake of War assesses the consequences of civil war for democratization in Latin America, focusing on questions of state capacity. Contributors focus on seven countries—Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru—where state weakness fostered conflict and the task of state reconstruction presents multiple challenges.