News / USA

US Democracy Groups Mark 30 Years of Progress, Controversy

US Democracy Groups Mark 30 Years of Progress, Controversyi
X
November 15, 2013
Democracy has made numerous advances around the world in the past three decades, thanks in part to several U.S.-based organizations. As VOA's Kent Klein reports, the National Endowment for Democracy and related groups are celebrating their 30th anniversary.
TEXT SIZE - +
Kent Klein
— Democracy has made numerous advances around the world in the past three decades, thanks in part to several U.S.-based organizations. The National Endowment for Democracy and related groups are celebrating their 30th anniversary.

Much of the world is more democratic today than when the National Endowment for Democracy [NED] was established in 1983.

The private, nonprofit group, which receives funds from Congress, has helped foster that change, according to its longtime president, Carl Gershman.

"Our job, our responsibility, our mission, given by the Congress, is to be helpful, is to lend a helping hand. That's what we do. But the main driving forces are inside those countries, and it's basically the people in those countries," said Gershman.

The NED is one of several affiliated pro-democracy groups marking their third decade. The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, linked to the two major U.S. political parties, have similar missions.  

The groups work with non-governmental organizations, political parties, democracy activists and some governments to help establish and strengthen democratic institutions. The NED does so by providing grants to those groups, while the party-backed groups are field-based - operating their own offices in the countries, said National Democratic Institute President Ken Wollack.

"In most all of those countries, we work with the ruling party, the opposition parties, we work with the government, we work with civil society," said Wollack.

However, field-based groups sometimes are vulnerable to opposition from host governments.  

The Republican IRI and Democratic NDI left Russia last year under pressure from President Vladimir Putin's government.

Melinda Haring, a former NDI program officer in Azerbaijan, and now with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said field-based democratic aid should be used only in partly-free countries.

"When you're in a place like Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan or Azerbaijan or even Russia, you have to pay the piper. You can't implement programs that really challenge the regime," said Haring.

Wollack points to numerous successes in which his agency has been involved, though, including this year's elections in Kenya, which were far more peaceful than previous ballots. "And a lot of effort was made in promoting dialogue between political parties, dialogue between the election authorities and parties, engaging youth constructively in the political process."

Gershman admitted that democracy often is slow to take root, but it has global demand. "Even in difficult countries like Saudi Arabia, or in North Korea, there are people, even there, who are trying to take the next step toward democracy. Over time, given enough time, I do think it's inevitable. I do think it's inevitable."

And for 30 years, the U.S. democracy groups have been making progress, one country at a time.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid