Forum Focus: November 2021

A monthly newsletter of activities, publications, and news from the National Endowment for Democracy‘s International Forum for Democratic Studies

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The International Forum and the Embassy of Canada to the United States will hold the eighteenth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World, featuring Ronald Deibert on “Digital Subversion: The Threat to Democracy” on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 beginning at 6:00pm Eastern Time. Deibert will discuss how malign actors have turned to digital subversion and surveillance to target civil society, independent journalism, and democratic activism in order to consolidate their power and stifle dissent around the world. Deibert has previously published an article in the Journal of Democracy ‘s January 2019 issue entitled “The Road to Digital Unfreedom: Three Painful Truths About Social Media,” and the NED’s Democracy Resource Center published a reading list in advance of this year’s lecture. Register for the event on the NED website.

Two specialized newsletters from the international forum: Pandemic Ploysand Digital Directions

The International Forum recently launched two newsletters that examine issues at the forefront of modern challenges to democracy. “Pandemic Ploys” examines how authoritarians around the world have manipulated the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage, focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on democratic integrity, political crackdowns, democratic responses, emerging trends in technology, and related resources. “Digital Directions” focuses on authoritarian manipulation and democratic resilience within the digital domain and examines how illiberal actors are exploiting the information space and what democratic governments and civil society are doing to craft democratically accountable digital models. Subscribe to these newsletters.

Power 3.0: “Blank Check: how weak multilateral lending standards enable and strengthen kleptocracy

In a Power 3.0 Blog post, entitled “Blank Check: How Weak Multilateral Lending Standards Enable and Strengthen Kleptocracy,” Elsa Peraldi detailed how corrupt state officials embezzled much needed COVID-19 assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral financial institutions. Although the IMF adopted an accountability framework in 2018, the organization is currently unable to ensure that such emergency relief loans are allocated properly. Peraldi reviews how corrupt governments use insufficient or half-hearted anticorruption measures as a means of reputation laundering. In response to these challenges, the author suggests that the IMF collaborate with stakeholders in civil society to ensure that state actors abide by measures designed to combat corruption and safeguard good governance.

Welcoming John K. Glenn as Senior Director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies

The International Forum and the National Endowment for Democracy welcomed John K. Glenn as Senior Director of the International Forum. Glenn has an extensive background working at the intersection of international affairs and democratic development, most recently as policy director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC). Glenn will oversee and further develop the Forum’s cross-cutting analytical and research activity in areas including transnational kleptocracy, the integrity of the information space, emerging technology, and sharp power and authoritarian influence. Prior to joining USGLC, Glenn served as director of foreign policy at the German Marshall Fund.



The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) held an event entitled “ Identifying Corrosive Capital from China in the Americas and the Carribbean,” featuring the International Forum’s Jessica Ludwig to examine the impact of Chinese capital in the region. The event discussed how the capital flows from China often includes a sharp power angle in recipient countries and presents potential consequences for private businesses and democratic governance.


Announcing the Fall 2021 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows

The National Endowment for Democracy and the International Forum are pleased to welcome the Fall 2021 cohort of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows and Visiting Fellows. Joining us this cycle are Andrea Ngombet (Republic of Congo), Senami Kojah (Nigeria), Tamta Tvalavadze (Georgia), DJ Switch (Nigeria), Ladan Boroumand (Iran), who are leading democracy activists, practitioners, and scholars from a number of countries around the world.


FORTHCOMING 12/7 EVENT: “Resisting Sharp Power: Strengthening the Fabric of Open Societies” 

On December 7, the International Forum is hosting an event entitled Resisting Sharp Power: Strengthening the Fabric of Open Societies beginning at 8:00am ET, featuring Dominka Hajdu (GLOBSEC), Ttcat (DoubleThink Lab), George Sarpong (Ghana National Media Commission), and Jessica Ludwig (International Forum), and opening remarks by John Glenn (International Forum). The conversation, moderated by Kevin Sheives (International Forum), will examine how civil-society led approaches and tools can accelerate learning about the impact of sharp power on the public sphere and identify opportunities – across regions and outside of the context of advanced democracies – for strengthening democratic resilience in young and emerging democracies. Coordinated with the Global Democracy Coalition, further event details will be available on NED’s YouTube page.


What We’re Reading

Connect with Us!

  • Update your subscription preferences to receive our biweekly newsletters, including “Pandemic Ploys” and “Digital Directions,” and our monthly update, the “Forum Focus.”
  • The Forum’s Power 3.0 blog and its related podcast reflect on modern authoritarianism and other challenges to democracy around the world.
  • The Journal of Democracy is a leading publication on the scholarly analysis on the theory and practice of democracy.
  • The Forum regularly hosts democracy activists, scholars, and journalists as part of its Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship Program.
  • The Forum houses the Democracy Resource Center, which is dedicated to the study and practice of democracy around the world.

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