The Global Assault on Civil Society

November 17, 2015
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

Around the world, governments are devising new and elaborate methods to obstruct the activities of independent civil society. This includes using the forms of law to crack down on non-governmental organizations and erecting barriers to the ability of such groups to receive international funding. The deepening clampdown on civil society is a prominent feature of the broader resurgence of authoritarianism that is challenging democratic values and adversely affecting democracy in a growing number of ways.

Anne Applebaum, Michele Dunne, Louisa Greve, and Douglas Rutzen discussed the global assault on civil society and its significant implications for democratic development.


  • Anne Applebaum, Director, Transitions Forum, Legatum Institute
  • Michele Dunne, Director & Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Louisa Greve, Vice President for Asia, Middle East & North Africa, and Global Programs, National Endowment for Democracy
  • Douglas Rutzen, President & CEO, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

moderated by

  • Christopher Walker, Executive Director, International Forum for Democratic Studies

with introductory remarks by

  • Marc F. Plattner, Vice President for Research and Studies, National Endowment for Democracy and Editor, Journal of Democracy

About the Speakers

Anne Applebaum leads the Legatum Institute’s Transitions Forum, a series of projects which examine the challenges and opportunities of radical political and economic change. She is also a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction as well as other awards. Her most recent book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1946, won the 2013 Cundill Prize for Historical Literature and was nominated for a national book award in the US. She is a former member of the Washington Post editorial board, a former deputy editor of the Spectator magazine, a former political editor of the Evening Standard and a former Warsaw correspondent of The Economist. Her work also appears regularly in the New York Review of BooksForeign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, and many other UK and US publications.

Michele Dunne is the director and a senior associate in Carnegie’s Middle East Program, where her research focuses on political and economic change in Arab countries, particularly Egypt, as well as U.S. policy in the Middle East. She was the founding director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council from 2011 to 2013 and was a senior associate and editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 2006 to 2011. Dunne was a Middle East specialist at the U.S. Department of State from 1986 to 2003, where she served in assignments that included the National Security Council, the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff, the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem, and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. She also served as a visiting professor of Arabic language and Arab studies at Georgetown from 2003 to 2006.

Louisa Greve is Vice President for Asia, Middle East & North Africa, and Global Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she previously served as Director for East Asia, Senior Program Officer, and Program Officer. She has studied, worked, and travelled in Asia since 1980 and has testified before Congressional committees on human rights in China and democracy promotion in Asia. She was a member of the AEI/Armitage International Taiwan Policy Working Group (2007) and the Council on Foreign Relations Term Member Roundtable on U.S. National Security – New Threats in a Changing World (2002). Ms. Greve served as a member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA from 1993 to 1998, and was a volunteer China and Mongolia specialist for Amnesty from 1990 to 1999. She served two terms as a member of the Virginia State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (2007-2011).

Douglas Rutzen is President and CEO of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), which has worked in 100 countries to develop the legal framework for civil society, public participation, and philanthropy. Doug is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches international civil society law. Under Doug’s leadership, ICNL received a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, the organizational analogue to MacArthur’s “genius award” for individuals. In 2013, Doug presented remarks at a UN General Assembly side event moderated by President Obama. Doug serves on the Community of Democracies’ Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society, along with representatives of 13 governments. In addition, Doug co-chairs the State Department’s Global Philanthropy Working Group. Doug has spoken at events organized by the governments of China, Brazil, Canada, and Sweden, and he also teaches at the Foreign Service Institute.


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