-Democracy Research News-April 2009
Welcome to Democracy Research News, the newsletter of the Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI). The Network is a membership association of institutions that conduct and publish research on democracy and democratic development. It is also one of several functional networks associated with the World Movement for Democracy (www.wmd.org). This newsletter is one means of informing democracy scholars and others worldwide about the activities of and publications produced by NDRI member institutes. The newsletter will continue to evolve as the Network grows, and we invite readers' comments and suggestions of useful features they would like to see in future issues. Additional information about the Network and profiles of all member institutes are available at www.wmd.org/ndri/ndri.html. To submit comments or to inquire about joining the Network, please write to Melissa Aten ().
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1. NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTSGlobal Integrity Report 2009: Call for Experts
Global Integrity, an award-winning international non-profit organization dedicated to tracking governance and corruption trends around the world, is seeking interested journalists, researchers, social scientists, and other experts with a background in governance and corruption issues to prepare its Global Integrity Report: 2009. The Global Integrity Report is a compilation of in-depth country assessments prepared by local experts that combines qualitative journalistic reporting with quantitative data gathering to produce a powerful “snapshot” of the strengths and weaknesses of national anti-corruption mechanisms. The Report is widely used by development experts and aid donors; reform-minded governments; private sector investors; and grassroots journalists and advocates to prioritize governance challenges and promote anti-corruption reform efforts. Interested candidates should apply online no later than June 1, 2009 by visiting http://www.globalintegrity.org/apply. Additional information about Global Integrity is available on our website.
Fellows Program on Peace, Governance, and Development in East Asia
The East Asia Institute (EAI) based in Seoul, Korea, invites applications to its Fellows Program on Peace, Governance, and Development in East Asia. Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation of New York, the East Asia Foundation of Seoul, and the Chang Ching-Kuo Foundation for Inter-national Scholarly of Taipei, the Fellows Program targets United States-based East Asianists with cutting-edge expertise in political science, international relations, and sociology for an international exchange program with the goal of encouraging interdisciplinary research with a comparative perspective in the study of East Asia. The EAI Fellows present seminars and lectures, based on an unpublished article on current issues submitted solely for the purpose of the Fellows Program, at two or more Member Institutions in East Asia.
The Program is designed to give the Fellows the flexibility required to bring out the best of their expertise in seminars and lectures. Fellows choose the subjects of their articles, seminars, and lectures within the broadly defined themes of peace, governance, and development in East Asia in order to make the visitation an integral part of their on-going research. Fellows are free to decide how they will divide their time among two or more Member Institutions, giving a seminar and a lecture apiece at each of the sites chosen. The Member Institutions are the East Asia Institute in Seoul, Fudan University in Shanghai, Keio University in Tokyo, Peking University in Beijing, and Taiwan National University in Taipei.
For further details and instructions on how to apply, please download a booklet titled “Fellows Program on Peace, Governance, and Development in East Asia” available online at http://www.eai.or.kr/eng/program/fellows.html or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. All application materials must be type-written and in English and must be received no later than May 31, 2009.
NDRI Welcomes Two New Members:
We are pleased to welcome the following new member of the research network (whose activities are reported in the appropriate geographic section of this newsletter):
• The Quality of Government Institute (QoG) at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), a think tank that conducts and promotes research on the causes, consequences, and nature of good governance and the quality of government.
• Estudios para el Futuro (Costa Rica), a think tank that conducts research on good governance, institution building, fiscal and tax reform, state reform and its social and economic impact, competition and markets, and decentralization.
2. New Publications and Recent Events by NDRI Members
AfricaIn April 2009, the Afrobarometer published a Working Paper on “Is Clientelism at Work in African Elections? A Study of Voting Behavior in Kenya and Zambia,” by Daniel J. Young, in which the author challenges the notion that personalism and clientelism structure voting behavior in Africa. By using a combination of data sources, the author tests the relative power of two interpersonal, clientelistic interactions between voters and members of parliament against how often members visit their constituencies to prove that it is the latter that helps an incumbent’s reelection bid.
Afrobarometer also published a April 2009 Working Paper on “Rationality, Cosmopolitanism, and Adjustment Fatigue: Public Attitudes to Economic Reform in Zambia,” by Michael Bratton and Peter Lolojih, the authors argue that “in arriving at their opinions about economic reform, Zambians are just as likely to resort to political loyalty – based on partisan attachment to the ruling party – as on economic rationality.”
Since the last issue of Democracy Research News, Afrobarometer has added 9 Briefing Papers to its website, including “Popular Perceptions of Shari’a Law in Nigeria,” “Batswana Support Press Freedom and Critical Speech,” “Demanding Democratic Rule: Batswana Support Democracy and Reject Non-Democratic Rule,” and “Popular Views on Crime in Tanzania.” Full text of these and past Briefing Papers are available here.
In February 2009, the Ghana Center for Democratic Development published Watching Democracy in Ghana, a compilation of CDD-Ghana’s flagship publication, Democracy Watch, that tracks specific aspects of Ghana’s democratic governance, such as the rule of law, institutions of horizontal accountability, elections, and political parties, from 1999 to 2007.
In April 2009, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS, South Africa) published a Research Report on “Why Is this Election Different from All Others? ANC, COPE, and The Way Forward,” by Raymond Suttner. The author argues that this election is different from previous contests because it is overshadowed by a range of internal problems in the African National Congress, particularly fears, defections, purges, secretiveness, and "excessive language." Mr. Suttner traces the development of the ANC from an opposition party during South Africa’s apartheid regime to its recent problems with leadership and other issues that led to the formation of the splinter party, the Congress of the People (COPE).
CPS also published a January 2009 Research Report on “Democratic Decision-Making and Development at the Local Level: Lessons from Botswana,” by Lebogang Mokwena and Ebrahim Fakir, in which the authors seek to understand the relationship between deliberative democracy and local or community level development in Botswana. Specifically, the authors are attempting to answer two questions: can deliberative democracy and participation make development projects more community-oriented and community-based? And, can deliberative democracy and participation at the local level democratize the formulation and implementation of development plans? The authors place the democracy-development nexus within a broader theoretical framework vis-à-vis participatory development to answer these questions.
Finally, CPS published a February 2009 Policy Brief on “Exploring Gender Issues and Men’s Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa,” by Ogochukwu Nzewi, in which the author explores an apparent bias in gender-based HIV/AIDS policy approaches and strategies in many sub-Saharan African countries, in that they tend to marginalize men as potential targets of intervention strategies.
In February 2009, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) published Democracy in Africa: Promoting the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, edited by Douglas Racionzer. Contributors to the collection argue that two processes, one external and one internal, are currently opening doors for democracy in Africa. The end of the Cold War has allowed the West the luxury of advocating democracy on the continent, forcing rulers to embrace some democratic attributes. While these “virtual democracies” are not characterized by the traditional traits of liberal democracies, they have opened up the political space in many parts of Africa. Internally, more and more Africans are learning how to hold their leaders accountable---and gaining the power necessary to do so.
In January 2009, Idasa published “Thinking It Through: Corporate Guide to Political Donations,” written by Lawson Naidoo and edited by Richard Calland and Judith February. The publication is intended to serve as a guide to donors and encourages a best practice model among South African corporations with regard to political party funding and includes a list of guidelines to help companies understand the issue and make informed decisions.
Idasa also released the April 2009 edition of The Governance Response to HIV and AIDS: New Diaries from Southern Africa, in which HIV/AIDS-related news from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia are conveyed.
Asia and the PacificIn February 2009, the Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI, Australia) hosted its second annual “Effective Parliamentary Committee Inquiries Course” in Sydney, Australia. Twenty parliamentary officials involved in supporting committees from 14 parliaments in 13 countries participated in the course, whose program “followed the process of conducting a committee inquiry from the beginning with the issuing of terms of reference for an inquiry through to the drafting of the final report and its tabling in Parliament.” Topics covered during the course included planning and budgeting for an inquiry, collecting evidence, processing written submissions, conducting public hearings, and analyzing the evidence received. A course program is available here. A course report will be posted soon.
On March 30, 2009, CDI and the recently formed Institute for Peace and Democracy held a seminar to discuss the issues raised in CDI’s new publication on “Indonesia’s 2009 Elections: The New Electoral System and the Competing Parties,” by Stephen Sherlock. The event examined how major reforms of the Indonesian election system, including the new “open list” voting system that forces voters to vote for individual candidates rather than political parties, could present some major challenges for Indonesian democratization. Full text of Stephen Sherlock’s paper, as well as more information about the seminar, is available here.
In January 2009, the Centre for Policy Research (CPR, India) published “Transforming West Bengal,” by Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari, in which the authors examine political, economic, and social problems in West Bengal and develop an agenda for change that includes 30 reforms designed to improve governance, access to land, and the quality of employment.
Two CPR affiliated scholars have also recently published books. Shylashri Shankar’s Scaling Justice: India’s Supreme Court, Anti-Terror Laws, and Social Rights (Oxford University Press) argues that Indian judges “are ‘embedded negotiators’ who craft judgments to avoid conflict with the political wings, while also remaining mindful of their role as safe keepers of the rights of citizens. Sanjib Baruah’s Beyond Counter-Insurgency: Breaking the Impasse in Northeast India (Oxford University Press) argues that “only concerted efforts to establish the rule of law, a system of accountability, and faith in the institutions of government can break the cycle of violence” in India’s volatile northeast region.
In March 2009, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) released four publications around the theme “The State of Democracy in Pakistan.” “The Evaluation of Parliament 2008–2009” examines the representativeness of the National Assembly, the effectiveness of parliamentary oversight over the executive, and the effectiveness of the legislative capacity of the Assembly, as well as its transparency, accountability, and effectiveness in international affairs. The “Politics of Democracy and of Good Governance in Pakistan,” by S. Akbar Zaidi, shows how” difficult and complicated the concepts, definitions, contexts, and relationships of governance and democracy” are in Pakistan. In “Weak State Strong Nation: A Survey of Surveys 2008–2009,” Ijaz Shafi Gilani examines survey data from the past year and observes that while the capacity and authority of the government has faced serious setbacks, society is showing signs of greater cohesiveness and a more vibrant civil society. Mr. Gilani believes that the past year has left citizens with a greater sense of personal empowerment, which allows them to hold views at odds with authority. Finally, “Performance of the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan: The 1st Parliamentary Year, March 17, 2008–March 16, 2009” uses key indicators (number of working days and hours, legislation, questions, attendance, etc) to show positive initiatives of the 13th Assembly (committee chairs awarded to the opposition, greater transparency through its website, prime minister’s presence and activism, etc) and to highlight key areas of concern (role in addressing national crises, little role in implementing the Charter on Democracy, repeal of the 17th Amendment, etc).
In February 2009, the East Asia Institute (EAI, South Korea) released its Korean Public Opinion Review on “Rising North Korean Threat Perception and Support for Korea-US Alliance.” Within the context of the recent inauguration of the Obama administration in the U.S. and the current crisis over the North Korean missile launch, EAI polled Korean citizens on their views of the Korea-U.S. alliance and U.S. leadership in the world. Significant findings of the survey include an increase in Koreans’ support for its alliance with the U.S. as its security situation becomes more uncertain and a growing support for U.S. leadership in the world.
The January–April Journal of East Asian Studies, edited by EAI and published by Lynne Rienner Publishers includes articles on “Between Balancing and Bandwagoning: South Korea’s Response to China” by David C. Kang; “The Changing Anatomy of Regional Trade Agreements in East Asia” by Kati Suominen; “The Transnational Protection Regime and Taiwan’s Democratization” by Su-Mei Ooi; “The 2008 Malaysian Elections: An End to Ethnic Politics?” by Thomas B. Pepinsky; and “Japanese Lower House Campaigns in Transition: Manifest Changes or Fleeting Fads?” by Patrick Koellner. Abstracts of these articles are available here.
In March 2009, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA, Sri Lanka) published “A Profile of Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues in the Vanni and Vavuniya,” in which the human rights and humanitarian situation resulting from the conflict in North Sri Lanka between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which is currently concentrated in the Mullaitivu District, are explored. The report examines the humanitarian situation of civilians and internally displaced persons trapped in the Vanni, a small region where the fighting is heaviest, and in Vavuniya, the military headquarters for the government’s operations, which also houses a large population of civilians.
EuropeOn March 27, 2009, the Access to Information Program (AIP, Bulgaria) organized a conference on “Access to Information Litigation in Bulgaria” in Sofia. The conference covered topic such as issues and results from AIP litigation on the Access to Public Information Act during 2005–2008; access to information and personal data; formulating access to information requests, and more. Details of the conference and the agenda are available here.
On January 28, 2009, AIP and the Internet Society Bulgaria presented the Big Brother Anti-Awards, which are given to the government institutions, private companies, or individuals who have done the most to invade personal privacy. The Big Brother Award was founded by Privacy International - a human rights group working for the protection of privacy. More information about the award and the list of winners are available here.
Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS, Bulgaria), has published his article on “Reading Russia: The Rules of Survival” in the April 2009 Journal of Democracy. In the article, Krastev examines the notion that falling oil prices and the economic crisis will soften Putin’s authoritarian grip and give way to democracy in Russia. He believes this scenario is highly unlikely, as the basic fears of Russians – demographic catastrophe, economic uncertainty, and Russia’s territorial disintegration – give legitimacy to Putin’s regime. Moreover, liberals are not well positioned to gain from the current crisis, for although the crisis may be destabilizing economically, it will also strengthen the very fears on which Putin’s regime is based.
In April, the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS, Bulgaria) published two new analyses on the Balkans. In “Status Quo as the More Likely Alternative for Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Stefan Ralchev examines the current situation in the country and concludes that “despite the growing political tension in BiH, the lag in reforms, the lack of progress on the path to EU integration…and the calls for greater Western involvement,” it is likely that the country will preserve the status quo for now, which suggests the country will probably not regress into war but will remain split on ethnic principles. Alexander Marinov’s paper on “The Presidential and Municipal Elections in Republic of Macedonia (FYRM): Internal and External Factors” examines the 2009 elections in Macedonia and argues that they marked an important point in that country’s history, as the elections were deemed free and fair, voters did not experience violence or harassment at the polls, and voter education and participation were high.
The Center for Policy Studies (CPS, Hungary) is the lead institution of a new 3-year research project on Ethnic Differences in Education and Diverging Prospects for Urban Youth in an Enlarged Europe (EDUMIGROM). The project involves ten partner institutions from across Europe who are conducting a comparative investigation in ethnically diverse communities with second-generation migrants and Roma in nine countries of the EU. In 2009, EDUMIGROM released three comparative studies on education, educational policies for inclusion, and ethnic relations in the 9 target countries of the project: the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. More information about EDUMIGROM is available here.
The Institute of Public Affairs (ISP, Poland) recently published two new papers in its Analyses & Opinions series. Agnieszka K. Cianciara’s April 2009 piece on “The European Policy of Donald Tusk’s Government” examines the approach of the new Polish government towards the EU and argues that it has a “reorientation of the Polish EU policy by pursuing an active, unprejudiced, constructive, and coalition-based approach within the EU.” Jan Pieklo’s March 2009 paper on “Russia Today: Neo-Imperialism and Crisis – The Polish Perspective” argues that for the sake of European stability and security, Polish-Russian relations should be improved, although Poland and the international community should “cooperate with Russia with a great dose of discretion, caution but also determination.”
The Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM, Montenegro) released its March 2009 Political Public Opinion poll in which respondents were queried about their confidence in institutions, politicians and public officials, newspapers, radio stations, television stations, as well as their opinion on Montenegro’s possible EU and NATO membership. Full results of the poll are available here.
The Institute for Public Affairs (IVO, Slovakia) recently published She and He in Slovakia. Gender and Age in the Period of Transition, edited by Zora Bútorová in 2009. The book examines the similarities and differences in the lives of men and women in Slovakia, as well as how they perceive, interpret, and cope with their social status and gender roles. Chapters of the book include studies on gender equality in public perception, women and men in public life and politics, the image of women in the Slovak media, and the work life of men and women.
The Quality of Government Institute (QoG, Sweden) released four Working Papers in 2009. Jon Pierre’s April 2009 paper on “Why Legality Matters: The Limits of Markets and Governance Reform in the Public Sector” examines recent market-based administrative and governance reforms “with particular attention to the relationship between the norms and objectives that drive reform and the norms of legality in the public service.” Jon Pierre’s March 2009 on “New Governance, New Democracy?” reviews the transformation of governance from the vantage point of democratic values and argues that “while current reform undercuts the former role of political institutions and elective office, citizens and customers of public services are still left with traditional channels of representation and accountability.” In “A Network Model of Decision Making Applied to the European Union” (March 2009), by Daniel Naurin and Robert Thomson, the authors “formulate and test a network model of decision making that incorporates the influence relations among political decision makers.” Finally, “Does Democracy Produce Quality of Government?” (January 2009), by Nicholas Charron and Victor Lapuente, explores whether democratic states perform better than authoritarian ones and conclude that this relationship is based on economic development and is therefore conditional.
The Democratisation and Rule of Law Program of FRIDE (La Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior, Spain) recently published five Policy Briefs. Jos Boonstra’s April 2009 brief on “Riots in Moldova: The Next Generation Revolution?” examines the recent eruption of riots in Moldova after the Communist Party was reelected and asks if Moldova is heading toward a “color revolution” or if we are witnessing the first “electronically spurred revolution.” In “NATO Turns 60: How Can It Stay Healthy?” (April 2009), Jos Boonstra examines ways in which NATO can adapt to the current international environment and new security challenges. Boonstra also argues that the Organization needs “to be decisive on its future and send a clear message as to the relevance and urgency of the tasks that lie ahead” at the NATO summit in April. Sofia Sebastián’s March 2009 Brief on “Making Kosovo Work” “explores how making Kosovo work requires the EU to reassess its current policies on the ground in Kosovo and towards Serbia.” “Bolivia and Venezuela: Different Political Paths,” by Susanne Gratius and Laura Tedesco, examines how the political paths of the two countries differs. While Bolivia is on a path to build a democratic regime that includes the indigenous population, Venezuela is facing Hugo Chavez’s concentration of power, the militarization of politics, the polarization of society, and a charismatic and authoritarian-populist leadership. Finally, Balázs Jarábik’s March 2009 Brief on “Belarus: Are the Scales Tipping?” examines the possibility of Belarus turning toward the West in light of the current economic crisis.
The Centre for the Study of Public Policy (CSPP, United Kingdom) recently published four papers in its Studies in Public Policy series. No. 446 “How Do Electors Respond to an Unfair Election? The Experience of Russians,” by Richard Rose, identifies “multiple conditions in which unfair elections may evolve from being semi-authoritarian to more or less democratic, and those in which unfair elections encourage a tightening of authoritarianism.” No 449 “The Emergence of Pensioners’ Parties in Eastern Europe: A Comparative Analysis,” by Seán Hanley, examines the political reasons for the emergence of pensioners’ parties and their relative success. Analysis “suggests that pensioners’ parties can perform relatively well where ‘permissive’ electoral systems are combined with a higher proportion of pensioners, higher spending on pensions or a political environment unfavourable to the rise of new parties.” No. 450 “Responses to Transformation and After: Trends in Russian Opinion since 1992,” by Richard Rose, examines over 15 years of New Russia Barometer survey results on topics such “as support for the political regime and undemocratic alternatives, being paid or not by employers, economic expectations and expectations of the future.” Finally, Jan Delhey’s “Trust in Other Europeans and Support for European Unification: Extending the Identity Approach” (No. 452) shows that trust in “citizens of other EU countries tends to be conducive to supportive attitudes towards European unification in a plurality of countries over and above feelings of European identity.” More information about these and other Studies is available here.
In March 2009, the Oxford Centre for the Study of Inequality and Democracy (United Kingdom) published a Working Paper on “Transitional Justice, Federalism, and the Accommodation of Minority Nationalism,” by Will Kymlicka, in which the author focuses on cases where a country undergoing a democratic transition contains a strongly-mobilized minority nationalist movement seeking some form of self-government on a territorial basis, either through federalization or even independence.
In February 2009, OCSID also published a Working Paper on “Shaping Democratic Practice and the Causes of Electoral Fraud: The Case of Germany Before 1914,” by Daniel Ziblatt, in which the author uses empirical analysis to demonstrates that “electoral fraud’s incidence is significantly related to a society’s level of inequality in landholding, a major source of wealth, power, and prestige” in Imperial Germany. This paper was also published in the February 2009 American Political Science Review.
Latin AmericaIn February 2009, the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC, Argentina) published “Nº 62 Subsidios: entre la sospecha y la transparencia II. Índice de Transparencia 2007/8” (No. 62 Between suspicion and transparency II. Index of Transparency 2007/8) by Christian Gruenberg y Victoria Pereyra Iraola. The authors state that transparency is the most simple and effective way to prevent corruption and clientelism in the process of redistribution. In this article, the authors first examine the cases of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Ministry of City Planning, and the Ministry of Economy, which have improved in implementing and maintaining transparency in political transactions. Secondly, they look at the cases, such as the Ministry of Labor, which have implemented strict rules unevenly. Lastly, they focus on those ministries that have resisted pro-transparency reforms.
CIPPEC also published “Barómetro del Financiamiento Educativo - Informe Nº 2” (Educational Financing Barometer – Information no. 2). The full report in Spanish is available here.
In March 2009, the Center for Opening and Development in Latin America (CADAL, Argentina) published an article on “Conceptual Errors of the ‘President of all the Argentineans,’” by Adrián Lucardi, in which the author challenges President Cristina Kirchner’s concept of economics in her recent speech. Unlike what President Kirchner believes, that economics is “to administer with the disposable resources and the contributions at hand… always within economy it occurs that what some people receive is taken from others…” Lucardi argues that “economics is the creation of wealth that permits a major share for everybody, and within this process of creation benefited as much the ones who manufactured as also the ones who bought, since this permitted them to improve their quality of life.”
CADAL also released their bi-annual research report on Latin American Tendencies, by Carlos Sabino. The report reveals the challenges faced by populist governments in Latin America in the context of the economic crisis. Mr. Sabino believes that without the capacity to buy supporters or to isolate themselves from the world markets, populist governments are now faced with the need to balance their budgets and control phenomena like unemployment and inflation while their popularity declines more and more and the very poor results of their economic leadership come to light.
The Instituto de Ciencia Política (ICP, Colombia) recently published three bulletins in March: Boletín No. 124 “Debate de coyuntura legislativa – Agenda 2009” (Bulletin no. 124 “Debate on the Legislative Situation”), which focuses on the advances and setbacks of the legislative agenda in 2008–2009.
Boletín No. 125 “Prevención y limitación del consumo de drogas” (Bulletin no.125 “Prevention and Limitation of Drug Consumption”), which argues that the global war against drugs continues partly due to the failure to distinguish the effects of narcotic abuse and its prohibition. Many political leaders have overlooked aspects such as the demand for drugs in the market and the treatment of drug addicts. As a result the profit of narco-trafficking swells and thus fosters the emergence of narco-states.
Boletín No. 126 “Modernización de los departamentos” (Bulletin No.126 “Modernization of the Departments”) examines how a high degree of centralization in the national government has damaged the capacity of the departments and municipalities.
In early 2009, the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, A.C. (CIDE, Mexico) published four articles: “Oportunidades móviles: Pobreza y acceso telefónico en Latinoamérica y el Caribe El caso de México” (Mobile Opportunities: Poverty and the Access to Telephone in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Case of Mexico), by Judith Mariscal, presents the results of a survey on usage patterns of mobile phones in poor urban areas in Mexico City and in Tuxtla Gutierrez in the middle of 2007. An important finding is that mobile telephony is considered a necessary service.
“‘Madrinas’: Informantes y parapolicías La colaboración ilegal con el trabajo policial en México” (Police Informers: Informers and Para-Police, the Illegal Collaboration with the Police Force in Mexico), by Gustavo Fondevilla, analyzes the institutional role of informal para-police groups in Mexico known as “Madrinas.” The author attributes the ongoing activities of the Madrinas mainly to its intelligence work within the police agency itself, the lack of judicial control, and a police informant law.
In their essay “Impacto de la reforma al sistema de pensiones en México sobre el ahorro” (Impacts of the Pension System Reform in Mexico on Saving), Alejandro Villagómez and Juan Ignacio Hernández carry out the first measurement of the impact of the pension reform in Mexico using mandatory savings. Their results suggest that ten years after the reform, mandatory savings in conjunction with the change in public savings have a positive, but small, impact over national savings.
Finally, Jorge Schiavon’s essay on “Migración México-Estados Unidos: Intereses, simulaciones y realidades” (Mexico-United States Migration: Interests, Simulations and Realities) analyzes some of the most relevant issues of the migration of Mexicans to the United States, with the objective of better understanding their origins and consequences. The conclusions present a public policy proposal to regularize the flow of migrants between Mexico and the United States.
In 2009, FUNDAR (Mexico) released a report on “Democracia: medios de comunicación y elecciones en México” (Democracy: Medium of Communication and Elections in Mexico), by Miguel Acosta Valverde, Javier Treviño Rangel, and Sergio Aguayo Quezada. This study examines the media coverage of the presidential election in 2006 and 13 local elections in 2007 and 2008. It demonstrates the persistent inequality and the partiality of the negative campaigns in the news content, which leads to a discussion of the constitutionality of the “Television Law” that was passed between May and June in 2007.
Middle EastIn February 2009, the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) published Reinventing Israeli Democracy, by IDI President Arye Carmon, in which the author identifies the main reasons behind Israeli’s current political crisis: a parliament that lacks the resources required to produce quality legislation, the absence of transparency and accountability, incessant political instability, increasing anti-political sentiment among the public, and indications of a potential collapse of the parliamentary system in Israel. Mr. Carmon proposes three legislative reforms to address these issues: “reinforcement of political parties as the primary mediators of representative government in a parliamentary democracy; decentralization of governmental-administrative power; and an expansion of civilian participation in political processes and decision making. Full text of the book (in Hebrew) is available here. An English-language summary can be found here.
IDI has published two new issues of its Terrorism and Democracy Newsletter. The February 2009 Newsletter addresses the legitimacy of Israel's self-defense claim against Hamas within the context of the global discussions on whether a state may exercise the right to self-defense against terrorist groups. It also features a newspaper investigative report that discusses the thin line that separates IDF targeted killing operations and arrest operations that involve the lethal use of force in the West Bank. Finally, a recent Israeli lower court decision, which held the State of Israel responsible for maintaining law and order in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in order to prevent vigilante responses was examined.
The March 2009 edition addresses the decision of a Spanish magistrate to open a criminal investigation against senior Israeli officials for allegedly violating international law in the course of a 2002 targeted killing operation. Moreover, an increase in the number of house demolitions suggests a growing willingness on the part of the Israeli legal system to resort to exceptional and controversial counter-terrorism measures. Finally, the newsletter summarizes the main findings concerning terrorism and counter-terrorism that were published in the US State Department’s 2008 report on human rights in Israel and the occupied territories.
In February 2009, the Center for Strategic Studies (Jordan) published a paper on “The Tehran-Washington Talks Dilemma and Possible Scenarios,” by Mahjoob Zweiri, in which the author examines the failures and fear of diplomacy between the United States and Iran. The author first highlights American-Iranian disagreements, then analyzes the importance of the timing of their negotiations, and whether or not they should wait until after the Iranian elections in June 2009, and finally analyzes the caliber of a potential diplomatic mediator between the two countries.
On April 5, CSS hosted a lecture and roundtable discussion on “The Global Economic Crisis and Reform Priorities,” by Jomo Sundaram. The lecture highlighted the severe impact of the economic crisis on developing countries at large and on the poor population of the world in particular. It also emphasized the significance of the role of the state in the economy as one of the indispensable tools to limit the scope of the economic crisis and its impact.
In March 2009, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) released its Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. 31, which was conducted several weeks after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip. The poll examines domestic issues such as the balance of power and the performance and legitimacy of the governments (those of Ismail Haniyeh and Salam Fayyad); the peace process; and the Israeli elections. Some of the main findings include a slight increase in Hamas’s popularity and a slight decrease in Fatah’s; the Palestinian population is divided nearly equally on the issue of an independent Palestinian state and the resolution of all problems with Israeli, although almost three-quarters do not believe this is likely to happen in the next five years; and a large majority of Palestinians do not distinguish between Israeli right-wing parties and those that are more centrist.
PSR’s March 2009 Joint Israeli-Palestinian Poll queried Israelis and Palestinians on their opinions on final status negotiations, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, the ability of the new Israeli government to reach a settlement, and support for violence in the aftermath of the Israeli military operation in Gaza.
In March 2009, the Gulf Research Center (GRC, United Arab Emirates) published an Arabic translation of US Foreign Policy After the Cold War Global Hegemon or Reluctant Sheriff? by Fraser Cameron. The book, originally published in English in 2005, examines how America struggled to find a defining role after the end of the Cold War and assesses the changes in US foreign and security policy brought about as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It charts the unilateralist and sometime irrational trends in the foreign policy of the first George W. Bush administration and suggests that there may be some changes in policy during the second four years of his presidency.
In January 2009, GRC published Engaging Iran: Australian and Canadian Relations with the Islamic Republic, by Robert J. Bookmiller, in which the author traces the development of the ties between Australia, Canada, and the Islamic Republic of Iran from the 1950s through the present day, and provides insights into the complex relationships which, despite pressure from their close allies, has had Australia and Canada assume more nuanced diplomatic and economic policies toward Iran than either the US or EU.
The GRC also published the April issue of Araa Magazine and the March issue of and Gulf Monitor.
The April 2009 Democracy Watch, a monthly publication of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID, United States) includes articles on “Civil Society in the Arab World,” “Egypt: Civic Activities between Reality and Effectiveness,” “Palestine: The Lost Role and the Potential Role,” and “Sudan: Civil Society Organizations in Sudan: Politicization has the Upperhand.” Full-text of this Arabic-language publication is available here.
Russia and the Former Soviet UnionIn 2009, the Carnegie Moscow Center (Russia) published the second edition of Religion and Globalization Across Eurasia, edited by Alexey Malashenko and Sergei Filatov. This book is dedicated to the correlation between the development of world religions and the process of globalization. The book includes seven major religious trends: Buddhism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, Protestantism, Russian Orthodoxy, and paganism.
The Center also published two new Briefing Papers. In his January 2009 paper on “Focus and Exit: An Alternative Strategy for the Afghan War,” Gilles Dorronsoro argues that the only realistic exit strategy for the international coalition in Afghanistan is the creation of lasting institutions. Moreover, instead of centering the debate on the number of troops to be sent to Afghanistan in 2009 as part of a military surge, international leaders should focus on how combat troops should be used. Two choices suggested by the author are to continue playing offense by going after the Taliban and spreading troops thin or to adopt a new strategy focusing on protecting strategic sites, namely, urban centers and key roads, to allow for the development of strong Afghan institutions.
Martha Olcott’s February 2009 paper on “A New Direction for U.S. Policy in the Caspian Region” argues that the Obama administration needs a new approach that provides opportunities for local leaders in the Caspian Sea region to engage with the United States in economic and political development. She recommends five building blocks for a new U.S. policy: focus on military reform and capacity; support fair market pricing for energy producers and consumers to promote energy independence for the Caspian region; provide technical assistance for projects that capitalize on the region’s vast renewable energy resources; provide education and democracy assistance at the grassroots level; and appoint a presidential envoy for the region.
Four recent issues of ICPS News, the weekly newsletter of the International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS, Ukraine) will be of interest to democracy scholars. The February 16, 2000, issue on “Four Seas: Different Policies – Common Future” examines the impact of the last expansion of the European Union on a slew of strategic relations and politically affiliated regions. The February 23, 2009, issue on “No End in Sight: Downswing in Consumer Mood Continues to Break Records” examines the worsening consumer mood as the economic crisis deepens in Ukraine. According to the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) in January 2009, more than three quarters of Ukraine’s consumers are feeling pessimistic. The March 2, 2009, issue on “The 2009 Gas Dispute: Implications for Ukraine, Russia and the EU” focuses on the relationship between Kyiv and Moscow in terms of natural gas. Some economists believe that a more transparent gas import scheme in Ukraine and the convergence of import prices with those in the EU will make rent-seeking activities less likely. However, Ukraine’s economy and its political leaders remain highly dependent on what terms Russia provides for any gas supplies. Ukraine needs to start making its internal energy market and economy more resilient to possible Russian abuse of its market clout in the future. Finally, the April 6, 2009, issue on “European Integration: Fighting the Crisis and Looking Further,” features ICPS Director Olga Shumylo explaining the Centre’s new priorities in the sphere of European integration and what this means for the Centre and for Ukraine as a whole.
A complete archive of the weekly ICPS Newsletter is available here.
The Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF, Ukraine) organized a roundtable discussion on “Ukraine in Search of Consensus: NATO Membership or Neutral Status?” in Kyiv on March 24, 2009. During the roundtable, experts, and politicians discussed whether there isagreement among Ukrainians on the country’s ambition to join Euro-Atlantic organizations, such as NATO or the EU. More information about the event is available here.
United States and CanadaIn March 2009, Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, Canada), the Council of Indigenous Organizations of Jujuy, and the International Clinic for the Defence of Human Rights published “The Indigenous Peoples of Jujuy, Argentina: Lessons Learned and Challenges in Achieving the Implementation of Their Right to Education.” The report stems from a September 2008 UN Human Rights Council decision to give the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the “specific mandate of preparing a study on the lessons learned and challenges to achieve the implementation of the right of indigenous peoples to education.”
In April 2009, the Center for Democracy and Civil Society (CDACS, United States) published “The Democratic Recession,” by Barak D. Hoffman and Jack Santucci. The paper examines the reasons the number of countries rated electoral democracies on the Freedom House scores has declined for three years in a row, marking the first democratic recession since the end of the Cold War. The authors argue that the policies of the Bush administration, incomplete democratic transitions, and deliberate reforms to strengthen authoritarian regimes are the main factors in this decline and urge the Obama administration to focus more on the difficulties of democratic consolidation to prevent this recession from deepening.
The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL, United States) recently released Human Rights for the 21st Century: Sovereignty, Civil Society, and Culture (Stanford University Press), by Helen Stacy, in which the author argues that a new moral, ethical, and legal framework is needed for international human rights law. Ms. Stacy proposes relational sovereignty, reciprocal adjudication, and regional human rights as new approaches to international human rights law. She also argues that “law and courts must play a vital role in forging a better human rights vision in the future.” More information about this book, including full text of the first chapter, is available here.
In March 2009, CDDRL posted eight new Working Papers on its website: “Do Migrants Improve Their Hometowns? Remittances and Access to Public Services in Mexico, 1995–2000” by Claire Adida and Desha Girod; “Evaluating External Influence on Democratic Development: Transition” by Amichai Magen; “International Influences in the Mexican (Failed and Successful) Transition to Democracy” by Alberto Diaz-Cayeros and Beatriz Magaloni; “Transition to Democracy in Iran: Observations on International Influences on Democratization in Iran” by Abbas Milani; “Domestic and International Influences on the Collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) and Russia’s Initial Transition to Democracy (1993)” by Kathryn Stoner-Weiss and Michael McFaul; “Between Apartheid and Sustainable Democracy: Domestic Drivers and International Influences on Democratization in South Africa” by Timothy D. Sisk; “International Actors and Democratic Transitions: Ukraine 2004” by Richard Youngs and Michael McFaul; and “Serbia’s Bulldozer Revolution: Evaluating Internal and External Factors in Successful Democratic Breakthrough in Serbia” by Ray Jennings. A complete archive of all CDDRL Working Papers is available here.
On March 13, 2009, CDDRL hosted a one-day workshop on “Poorly Governed Resource-Dependent States: Policy Options for the New Administration,” in which academics and policymakers came together to discuss new research and policy initiatives on “the special problems that resource dependence can cause in low-income countries---including violent conflict, authoritarian rule, economic volatility, and disappointment growth” to inform US policy towards resource-dependent states in the Obama administration. A workshop agenda, as well as memos written by the meeting’s participants, are available here.
Finally, in April CDDRL sponsored two events on human rights. On April 3, Brooke A. Ackerly discussed her paper, “Justifying Universal Human Rights,” in which she sets out “a method of justification for a universal theory of human rights that is able to identify human rights and responsibilities in patterns of human rights violations that are experienced by individuals and by classes or categories of people.” On April 10, Ram Manikkalingam discussed his paper on “Promoting Peace and Protecting Rights: How Human Rights Can Be Good, and Bad, for Resolving Conflict?”
The International Forum for Democratic Studies (United States) published the April 2009 Journal of Democracy, which features a cluster of articles on “Reading Russia,” as well as individual studies of religion and democracy, Singapore, Hugo Chávez, NATO, Ghana, and Kosovo. The table of contents for this issue, as well as past issues is available here. Full text of selected articles are available here.
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