International Forum for Democratic Studies

Research and Conferences

International Forum for Democratic Studies LogoThe International Forum for Democratic Studies' research analyzes the conditions and challenges of democratic transition, reform, and consolidation around the world. Through its conferences, seminars, reports, edited volumes, and other research projects, the Forum examines the particular issues facing emerging democracies, troubled democracies, and transitional societies as well as the common problems of institutional performance and democratic quality that confront both new and established democracies.

Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI)

The core of the Research and Conferences Program is the Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI), a global association of think tanks that conduct research on democracy, democratization, and related topics in comparative government and international affairs.

Included in the Network are:

  • Independent institutions
  • University-based study centers
  • Research programs affiliated with other organizations

The Network was established to foster interaction among institutions, democracy scholars, and activists, to strengthen research on democracy, and to promote greater awareness of the diversity and vitality of democracy studies. Through a Web site, an electronic newsletter, professional exchange visits, and publication exchanges, the Network provides information about the work of its member institutes, including conferences and workshops, publications, and other activities. :: VISIT

Forum Events

Major events organized by the Forum in recent years include:

  • On February 13, 2013, the Forum held a half-day conference on "The Arab Spring after Two Years: Prospects for Democracy in the Gulf States" in cooperation with NED's Middle East/North Africa regional program and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). Congressman James McGovern provided introductory remarks.
  • On January 18, 2013, the Forum cosponsored an event on "The Role of Economics in Democratic Transitions" with the Legatum Institute, Foreign Policy, World Affairs, and the Institute for State Effectiveness. Examining the case of Afghanistan, Dr. Ashraf Ghani discussed why tackling economic questions is essential for a successful transition.
  • On December 6, 2012, the Forum hosted authors William J. Dobson of The Dictator's Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy and Joshua Stacher of Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt and Syria to discuss how leaders in China, Russia, Egypt, Venezuela, and other countries have adapted to suppress democratic movements in their countries in an event on "New Authoritarians and the Challenge to Democracy."
  • On November 14, 2012, the Forum hosted Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies (Bulgaria) and Forum research council member, who delivered a lecture on "In Mistrust We Trust: Can Transparency Revive Democracy?"
  • On November 13, 2012, the Forum and the Embassy of Canada sponsored the 9th annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World. This year's event featured Alfred C. Stepan, Wallace Sayre Professor of Government, Columbia University, who delivered a lecture entitled "Democratization Theory and the Arab Spring."

  • On September 11, 2012, the Forum held a book launch to celebrate the publication of the Journal of Democracy's latest book, Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy. The event featured presentations by Daniel Calingaert, vice president for policy and planning at Freedom House; Rebecca MacKinnon, Bernard L. Schwartz Senor Fellow at the New America Foundation; Xiao Qiang, adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalist of the University of California-Berkeley; and Rafal Rohozinski, principal with the SecDev Group. The book's coeditors, Marc F. Plattner and Larry Diamond, also made remarks.

  • On March 29, 2012, the Forum sponsored an event entitled "Constitution-Making, Electoral Design, and the Arab Spring," featuring Andrew Reynolds (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and John Carey (Dartmouth College). Donald Horowitz (Duke University) also provided comments.Professors Reynolds and Carey drew upon and updated their coauthored articles in the October 2011 and January 2012 issues of the Journal of Democracy.

  • In February 2012, the Forum celebrated the publication of Povery, Inequality, and Democracy, a Journal of Democracy book edited by Francis Fukuyama, Marc F. Plattner, and Larry Diamond. The event featured presentations by book contributors Francis Fukuyama (Stanford University), Peter Lewis (Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies), Mitchell Orenstein (Northeastern University), and Marc F. Plattner

  • On August 18–19, 2011, the Forum’s Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI) and Korea’s East Asia Institute cosponsored a workshop in Seoul entitled “Translating Research into Policy: Successful Experiences, Relevant Lessons.” Funded by the Korea Foundation, the meeting brought together representatives from NDRI member institutes in Ecuador, Ghana, India, Korea, Lebanon, and Romania that have been successful at having their research influence policy. This was the first in a planned series of workshops that will examine how think of democracy and authoritarianism.

  • "Nigeria's 2011 Elections and the Challenges Ahead," a half-day conference that brought together Nigerian activists and scholars with local Nigeria experts.    

  • "Democracy in East Asia and Taiwan in Global Perspective,” a major international conference cosponsored with the National Tawain University in August 2011. 

  •  "Democracy and Development," a March 2010 workshop cosponsored with Johns Hopkins University and the Center for Global Development

See all recent conference reports :: MORE

From 1998-2002, the Forum and the Sejong Institute in South Korea cosponsored the Democracy Forum for East Asia, which organized eight conferences on such topics as the role of civil society in promoting democracy, the democratization of political parties, and how the mass media fight corruption. The reports from this conference are archived in the Online Catalog. Search for "Democracy Forum for East Asia" using this link.

The Forum also regularly sponsors smaller meetings in Washington that focus on particular countries or regions, or on topical issues of democratic development. These often include NDRI scholars and Journal of Democracy contributors as featured speakers.

Forum Publications

In addition to the Journal of Democracy, the International Forum for Democratic Studies have produced a number of conference reports and books that examine not only the particular issues facing emerging democracies and transitional societies but also the common problems of institutional performance and civic participation that confront both new and established democracies. :: MORE