Democracy Promotion: Cornerstone of U.S. Foreign Policy?
Democracy Promotion: Cornerstone of
U.S. Foreign Policy?
Updated January 29, 2008
Susan B. Epstein, Nina M. Serafino, and Francis T. Miko
Specialists in Foreign Policy
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Democracy Promotion: Cornerstone of
U.S. Foreign Policy?
The Bush Administration has viewed democracy promotion as key element in
its foreign policy agenda and an instrument for combatting terrorism. Given
unsettled events related to elections in Pakistan and Kenya, and a recent landslide
election in Taiwan for a party advocating closer ties with Mainland China, democracy
promotion objectives will continue to be of interest in the American presidential
campaigns and in the second session of the 110th Congress.
Arguably, the lack of a clear definition of democracy and a comprehensive
understanding of its basic elements may have hampered the formulation of
democracy promotion policy and effective prioritizing of democracy promotion
activities over the years. Also, the lack of definition may have complicated
coordination of democracy programs and the assessment of U.S. government
activities and funding. Further, without a consensus on democracy definition and
goals, what criteria will determine when, if ever, a country has attained an acceptable
level of democratic reform and no longer needs American assistance?
Both the U.S. executive and legislative branches of government support
democracy promotion in other countries. The Bush Administration has implemented
both bilateral and multilateral programs to promote democracy, such as the
Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), and requested about $1.5 billion for
democracy promotion out of a total foreign affairs budget request of $36.2 billion in
FY2008. Also, the Administration identified “governing justly and democratically”
as a key objective of its foreign aid policies.
Congress appropriates funds, authorizes programs, and is responsible for
oversight. In 2007, Congress considered, among other democracy promotion bills,
the ADVANCE Democracy Act of 2007 (H.R. 982). It contains provisions to
promote democracy overseas, calls for specific State Department actions and reports,
aims to strengthen the “Community of Democracies,” and authorizes funding for
democracy assistance for FY2008 and FY2009. Congress is currently carrying out
its own program through the House Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC),
which was established in 2005. The Commission provides expert advice to fledgling
legislatures. To date, 12 countries have received assistance from the Commission.
The issue among Members of Congress, presidential hopefuls, and in the wider
policy community is not whether democracy promotion is worthwhile in general, but
rather when, where, and how it is to be applied to get the desired results and the most
for the taxpayer’s dollar. In addition, coordination of democracy promotion activities
is lacking among developed countries and within the U.S. government. The 110th
Congress may scrutinize U.S. democracy promotion in Iraq and elsewhere. Whether
or not “victory in Iraq” includes establishing an independent democratic Iraqi
government will be important in evaluating the human and financial costs and
benefits of U.S. involvement in Iraq and could affect other U.S. democracy
promotion agendas. This report will be updated as warranted.
In troduction ......................................................1
Background on the Current Debate....................................1
Democracies: Real or in Name Only...................................6
Why Promote Democracy?..........................................7
Assessment of Perceived Benefits.................................8
Determinants of Success...........................................11
Achieving Success: Means, Measures, and Challenges................11
Means: Elections, Institutions, and Civil Society................13
Difficulties of Defining and Measuring the Success of Democracy
Projects and Efforts...................................17
U.S. Government Activities to Promote Democracy......................18
Executive Branch Activities....................................18
Considerations for Congress........................................23
Appendix A. Requirements for the Community of Democracies............26
Appendix B. Background on Congressional Democracy Promotion Activities.28
Relations with Other Parliaments................................30
U.S. Foreign Assistance to Developing Legislatures..................32
The House Democracy Assistance Commission.....................32
List of Tables
Table 1. Governing Justly and Democratically Programs: FY2008 Funding
Request, by Region...........................................20
Democracy Promotion: Cornerstone of
U.S. Foreign Policy?
Democracy promotion has been a long-standing element of U.S. foreign policy.
In recent years, however, it has become a primary component. Under the George W.
Bush Administration, efforts to spread freedom to Iraq and around the world have
been viewed as a tool to end tyranny and fight terrorism, as the way to promote
stability in troubled regions, and as a mechanism to increase prosperity in poor
The democracy promotion ideal continues to be under close scrutiny,
particularly with recent unsettled election events in Kenya and Pakistan, and with a
landslide victory in Taiwan for the opposition party that supports closer ties with
Mainland China. While some observers believe that spreading democracy is a key
foreign policy priority, others argue that democracy promotion is but one of a number
of U.S. strategic objectives and not necessarily the overriding one. The issue among
Members of Congress, presidential hopefuls, and in the wider foreign policy
community may not be whether democracy promotion is worthwhile, but rather
when, where, and how to apply it effectively.
This report provides background information on democracy promotion policy
and activities, discusses the difficulties involved in such efforts, and presents
perspectives on the benefits and costs of such efforts. It also provides information
on congressional efforts to assist other parliaments in democratizing countries. This
report will be updated as warranted.
Background on the Current Debate
Since World War I, when the United States fought “to make the world safe for
democracy,” administrations have been interested, to varying degrees, in promoting
democracy around the world. Recent Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and
Clinton viewed democracy promotion as an important component of their foreign
More broadly, the current Bush Administration has viewed democracy
promotion as an instrument for promoting peace and combatting terrorism. He
identified it as a central focus to the “war on terrorism” and national security in his
second inauguration address on January 20, 2005:
Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security.... So it is the policy of
the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and
institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny
in our world.
Also in January 2005, Dr. Condoleezza Rice before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee listed three top priorities for her administration’s diplomacy:
First, we will unite the community of democracies in building an international
system that is based on shared values and the rule of law. Second, we will
strengthen the community of democracies to fight the threats to our common
security and alleviate the hopelessness that feeds terror. And third, we will
spread freedom and democracy throughout the globe. That is the mission that
President Bush has set for America in the world and is the great mission of1
American diplomacy today.
One of President George W. Bush’s stated reasons for starting the war in Iraq
was to bring democracy to that country: “[We] are committed to a strategic goal of
a free Iraq that is democratic, that can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself.”2
The Bush Administration continued to stress democracy promotion as a key
element in its foreign policy when Secretary of State Rice announced her
transformational diplomacy plan in January 2006. The Secretary’s objective of
transformational diplomacy is to “work with our many partners around the world to
build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of3
their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.” This
goal was restated in the State Department’s October 2006 briefing on the Secretary’s
foreign assistance reform.
Increasingly, others are voicing opinions about spreading democracy as a key
component of U.S. foreign policy. In a recent survey, Americans weighed in on U.S.
democracy promotion efforts. In the 2007 poll, American voters reacted to various
strategies to fight terrorism. Options included “make America energy independent;
use diplomacy to bring our allies into the struggle; use military force to defeat
terrorists and the states that harbor them; provide economic assistance to poor
countries to prevent them from becoming terrorist havens; and promote freedom and
democracy in the Islamic world.” The least-supported option among respondents was
“to promote freedom and democracy in the Islamic world.” The same poll asked
participants to agree or disagree with the following statement: “The U.S. cannot
1 The Secretary of State’s nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, January 18, 2005.
2 President Bush meets with Senior U.S. Defense Officials on Iraq, December 13, 2006.
[ ht t p: / / www.whi t e house.gov/ news/ r el eases/ 2006/ 12/ 20061213-5.ht ml ]
3 Remarks by Secretary of State Rice at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown
University, January 18, 2006.
impose democracy by force on another country.” Eighty-three percent agreed with
the statement and 15% disagreed.4
Similar sentiments have been expressed by people in Arab countries. In 2007,
Dr. James J. Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, testified before
Congress that recent years of polling among Arab populations indicates that “even
[Arabs] who value freedom and democracy did not want our [U.S.] assistance in
promoting democracy in their country.”5
Lawmakers and presidential candidates will likely address their views on
democracy promotion as they debate U.S. foreign policy issues in the coming
months. Some candidates may feel compelled to reject democracy promotion
entirely, in reaction to the policy of a controversial President who elevated it to a high
level of importance in his foreign policy. However, a more important question to be
answered may be how to determine when, where, and how democracy promotion
should be applied to be most effective.
Dating back to about 500 B.C.E., democracies existed in both Greece and Italy.
The term democracy comes from the Greek words demos, the people, and craits, to
rule. Today, democracy is an abstract term that is difficult to define and can have
different meanings, depending on the speaker and context. In the most common
understanding, democracy generally refers to a political system with certain
minimum elements: effective participation by the people (either directly or through
representation) under a constitution, respect for human rights, and political equality
before the law for both minorities and the majority.
The lack of a clear definition of democracy and a comprehensive understanding
of its basic elements may have created multiple problems for U.S. policy making,
according to some. Arguably, the lack of clear definition has hampered the
formulation of democracy promotion policy and effective prioritizing of democracy
promotion activities over the years. Also the lack of definition can complicate
coordination of democracy programs and the assessment of U.S. government
activities and funding. Further, without a consensus on the definition of democracy,
what criteria will determine when a country has attained an acceptable level of
democratic reform and no longer needs American assistance?
According to Richard Haass, former State Department official and current
President of the Council on Foreign Relations, democracy is more than elections; it
4 Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Report to Third Way, Results of National Security
Poll, February 7, 2006. Between January 30, 2007, and February 4, 2007, Penn, Schoen &
Berland Associates conducted 807 nationwide telephone interviews of likely 2008
presidential election voters.
5 Testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations,
Human Rights, and Oversight and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia,
May 3, 2007.
is a diffusion of power where no group within a society is excluded from full
participation in political life. Democracy requires checks and balances within the
government, among various levels of government (national, state and local), and
between government and society. Elements such as independent media, unions,
political parties, schools, and democratic rights for women provide checks on
government power over society. Individual rights such as freedom of speech and
worship need to be protected. Furthermore, a democratic government must face the
check of electable opposition and leaders must hand over power peacefully.6
One scholar, Laurence Whitehead, discusses the various academic attempts to
define democracy, pointing out that the definition has varied over time, and among
cultures (with even subtle differences in British and American understandings of key
elements of democracy), and arguing that the “outer boundaries” of the concept of
democracy are “to a significant ... extent malleable and negotiable....”7 “Democracy
has some indispensable components, without which the concept would be vacuous,
but these indispensable elements are skeletal and can in any case be arranged in
various possible configurations,” Whitehead posits.8 He argues that democracy
requires the minimal procedural conditions (safeguarding free and fair elections,
freedom of speech and association, and the integrity of elective office) as described
by other scholars.9 Yet, he cautions, these minimal procedures only establish
“contingently and for the present period ... a rather coherent and broad-based
6 “Towards Greater Democracy in the Muslim World,” Richard N. Haass, then-Director,
Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State, Remarks to the Council on Foreign
Relations, Washington, D.C., December 4, 2002.
7 Laurence Whitehead, Democratization: Theory and Experience, Oxford University Press,
8 Ibid., p. 20.
9 These minimal procedural conditions are outlined by Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn
Karl in an article entitled “What Democracy is ... and is Not,” in The Global Resurgence of
Democracy, by Larry Diamond and Marc F. Partner, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1993, p. 45. Schmitter and Karl add two conditions to the seven minimum conditions
for democracy suggested earlier by Robert Dahl, Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy, New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1982, p. 11. As cited by Whitehead, these nine conditions
are “1. Control of government decisions about policy is constitutionally vested in public
officials. 2. Elected officials are chosen in frequent and fairly conducted elections in which
coercion is comparatively uncommon. 3. Practically all adults have the right to vote in the
election of officials. 4. Practically all adults have the right to run for elective offices in the
government. 5. Citizens have a right to express themselves without the danger of severe
punishment on political matters broadly defined. 6. Citizens have a right to seek out
alternative sources of information. Moreover, alternative sources of information exist and
are protected by law. 7. Citizens also have the right to form relatively independent
associations or organizations, including independent political parties and interest groups.
8. Popularly elected officials must be able to exercise their constitutional power without
being subjected to over-riding (albeit informal) opposition from unelected officials. 9. The
polity must be self-governing; it must be able to act independently of constraints imposed
by some other overarching political system.” Ibid., pp. 10-11. Although Whitehead pins
his definition of democracy on these procedural conditions later in his book, he indicates in
his immediate discussion of them that they are “at once too precise and too incomplete” to
constitute the entire definition. Ibid., p. 11.
exposition of the predominant view.” He notes that the meaning of democracy “is
likely to remain contested, and even to some extent unstable, as current processes of
democratization unfold.”10 “Democratization,” he thus writes, “is best understood
as a complex, long-term, dynamic, and open-ended process. It consists of progress
towards a more rule-based, more consensual and more participatory type of politics.
Like ‘democracy’ it necessarily involves a combination of fact and value, and so
contains internal tensions.”11
Lack of a generally accepted view of democracy is evident in multilateral
organizations, such as Freedom House and the Community of Democracies,
dedicated to the cause of good governance. Freedom House, an independent
nongovernmental organization (NGO) founded in the 1940s, supports freedom
worldwide, rating countries’ level of freedom rather than defining or measuring
democracy. Freedom House rates countries as free, partly free, or not free via
numerical assessments of a country’s political rights and civil liberties.
Political rights enable people to participate freely in the political process,
including the right to vote freely for distinct alternatives in legitimate elections,
compete for public office, join political parties and organizations, and elect
representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are
accountable to the electorate. Civil liberties allow for the freedoms of expression
and belief, associational and organizational rights, rule of law, and personal12
autonomy without interference from the state.
Freedom House states that it is not enough that a country has elections to be
considered free; it must have a competitive multi-party political system, universal
adult suffrage for all citizens, regularly contested elections with secret ballots, and
public access to major political parties. According to the Freedom House mission
statement, “Freedom is possible only in democratic political systems in which the
governments are accountable to their own people, the rule of law prevails; and
freedoms of expression, association, belief and respect for the rights of minorities and13
women are guaranteed.”
The Community of Democracies consists of over 100 nations that first met in
2000 to form a coalition of countries that are committed to promoting and
strengthening democracies worldwide. This organization does not define democracy,
but does provide criteria for participation in the Community. (See Appendix A for
its stated criteria.)
Congress has demonstrated its concern for the lack of a consistent definition for
democracy. The Senate Foreign Operations Appropriation Committee Report for
FY2006 (S.Rept. 109-96/H.R. 3057) stated, “The Committee remains concerned that
the State Department and USAID do not share a common definition of a democracy
10 Ibid., p. 26.
11 Ibid., p. 27.
12 Freedom House Website, methodology page, at [http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.
cfm? page =351&ana_page =333&year=2007].
13 Freedom House website, at [http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=2].
program. For the purposes of this Act, ‘a democracy program’ means technical
assistance and other support to strengthen the capacity of democratic political parties,
governments, non-governmental institutions, and/or citizens, in order to support the
development of democratic states, institutions and practices that are responsive and
accountable to citizens.”14
The following year, the Senate Appropriations Committee Report for FY2007
(S.Rept. 109-277/H.R. 5522) asserted, “to ensure a common understanding of
democracy programs among United States Government agencies, the Committee
defines in the act ‘the promotion of democracy’ to include programs that support
good governance, human rights, independent media, and the rule of law, and
otherwise strengthen the capacity of democratic political parties, NGOs, and citizens
to support the development of democratic states, institutions and practices that are
responsible and accountable to citizens.”15
Democracies: Real or in Name Only
Further complicating defining democracy are the various designations for
differing types of systems that call themselves democracies. While numerous (and
at times overlapping) labels exist, typical references among the various terms for
limited democracies include electoral democracies, liberal democracies, pseudo-
democracies, and semi-authoritarian governments. Adding confusion to the debate
on democracy promotion is whether recipients of democracy promotion assistance
attain what is judged to be a complete or incomplete democratic transition.
Electoral democracy, according to Larry Diamond, is a civilian, constitutional
system in which the legislative and chief executive offices are filled through regular
competitive multiparty elections with universal suffrage.16 Electoral process is a
minimum requirement for a government to be referred to as a democracy. Most
experts agree, however, that elections are not enough.
Liberal democracy has all of what an electoral democracy has plus a constitution
that directs government institutions, rule of law, and civil liberties equally to all
citizens, including the state and its agents. It also has an independent judiciary that
protects liberties. Freedom House uses this set of requirements to describe its
category of “free.”
Pseudo-democracies, non-democracies, and illiberal democracies are categories
of governments that are minimally democratic. They are marginally different from
authoritarian regimes as they contain some aspects of electoral democracies such as
14 Senate Appropriations Committee, S.Rept. 109-96/ H.R. 3057 — Department of State,
Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations, FY2006, June 30, 2005.
15 Senate Appropriations Committee, S.Rept. 109-277/H.R. 5522 — Department of State,
Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations, FY2007, July 10, 2006.
16 Larry Diamond, Developing Democracy, Toward Consolidation, (hereafter referred to as
Developing Democracy) Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, p. 10.
the existence of multiple parties, but hold little real competition for power among
those political parties. Pseudo-democracies include “‘hegemonic party systems’ in
which a relatively institutionalized ruling party makes extensive use of coercion,
patronage, media control, and other features to deny formally legal opposition parties
a fair and authentic chance to compete for power.”17 Non-democracies include semi-
authoritarian and authoritarian regimes. These types of governments may have a
certain level of freedom or may even appear to hold elections. Conversely, however,
they may be totalitarian regimes — rigidly closed governments. Illiberal democracies
have free and fair elections but do not provide civil liberties and political rights to the
masses. Some critics and democracy experts argue that past democracy promotion
efforts were focused too heavily on free elections, ignoring some of the necessary
underpinnings of democracy, such as tolerance for minority views, rule of law, and
freedom of the press.
Why Promote Democracy?
When U.S. administrations have encouraged democratic reform, they have
claimed that benefits for the country, its neighbors, the United States, and the world
will result. Many experts believe that extending democracy can reduce terrorism
while encouraging global political stability and economic prosperity. In its 2006
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, the George W. Bush Administration
cites democracy promotion as a long-term solution for winning the War on Terror.18
In contrast, others claim that, in some instances, promoting democracy can be a
destabilizing factor in a country, as well as its region, and have documented a
backlash to democracy promotion, including restrictions on freedom in some
countries where democracy promotion has taken place.19 The benefits and costs of
democracy promotion may vary, depending on the circumstances in which the
programs are carried out. For example, costs could be starkly different if democracy
is militarily imposed on a country as opposed to the country itself taking the
On the other hand, some scholars believe that democracy promotion can succeed
even in seemingly inhospitable environments. While Whitehead points out the
difficulties of achieving democracy, he also notes the widespread aspirations for
democracy. Comparative evidence, he states, “is clear that in a surprisingly wide
range of countries and regions ... both elite and popular opinion can be energized” by
the democracy promotion programs of the established powers of the post-war
international system. “The desire to participate can generate democratizing
aspirations that extend beyond the boundaries of any single nation, and that may
drive cumulative long-term change even in the face of intervening disappointments
17 Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 15.
18 White House Release of updated strategy, National Strategy for Combating Terrorism,
September 5, 2006, at [http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nsct/2006/sectionI.html].
19 National Endowment for Democracy, The Backlash against Democracy Assistance, June
and distortions.”20 “Durable democracies,” he concludes, “can be regarded as
regimes that have slowly evolved under pressure from their citizens, and that have
therefore been adapted both to the structural realities and to the social expectations
of the societies in which they have become established.”21
Assessment of Perceived Benefits
A common rationale offered by proponents of democracy promotion, including
former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and current Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, is that democracies do not go to war with one another. This is
sometimes referred to as the democratic peace theory. Experts point to European
countries, the United States, Canada, and Mexico as present-day examples.
According to President Clinton’s National Security Strategy of Engagement and
Enlargement: “Democracies create free markets that offer economic opportunity,
make for more reliable trading partners, and are far less likely to wage war on one
Some have refined this democracy peace theory by distinguishing between
mature democracies and those in transition, suggesting that mature democracies do
not fight wars with each other, but that countries transitioning toward democracy are
more prone to being attacked (because of weak governmental institutions) or being
aggressive toward others. States that made transitions from an autocracy toward
early stages of democracy and were involved in hostilities soon after include France
in the mid-1800s under Napoleon III, Prussia/Germany under Bismarck (1870-1890),
Chile shortly before the War of the Pacific in 1879, Serbia’s multiparty constitutional
monarchy before the Balkan Wars of the late 20th Century, and Pakistan’s military-
guided pseudo-democracy before its wars with India in 1965 and 1971.23
The George W. Bush Administration asserts that democracy promotion is a
long-term antidote to terrorism. The Administration’s Strategy for Winning the War
on Terror asserts that inequality in political participation and access to wealth
resources in a country, lack of freedom of speech, and poor education all breed
volatility. By promoting basic human rights, freedoms of speech, religion, assembly,
association and press, and by maintaining order within their borders and providing
an independent justice system, effective democracies can defeat terrorism in the long
run, according to the Bush White House.24
Another reason given to encourage democracies (although debated by some
experts) is the belief that democracies promote economic prosperity. From this
20 Ibid., p. 267.
21 Ibid., p. 268.
22 President William J. Clinton, The National Security Strategy of Engagement and
Enlargement, 1996, p. 2.
23 Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies
Go To War (hereafter referred to as Electing to Fight), MIT Press, 2005, p. 70.
perspective, as the rule of law leads to a more stable society and as equal economic
opportunity for all helps to spur economic activity, economic growth, particularly of
per capita income, is likely to follow. In addition, a democracy under this scenario
may be more likely to be viewed by other countries as a good trading partner and by
outside investors as a more stable environment for investment, according to some
experts. Moreover, countries that have developed as stable democracies are viewed
as being more likely to honor treaties, according to some experts.25
According to some critics, pushing democracy promotion as a primary objective
of U.S. national security and foreign policy has reduced support, and generated a
skepticism around the world, for democracy promotion activities. According to one
“[T]he rhetorical conflation by the Bush Administration and its allies of the war
in Iraq and democracy promotion has muddied the meaning of the democracy
project, diminishing support for it at home and abroad.... Some of those opposed
to the invasion of Iraq, Americans and others, appear to have been alienated from26
democracy promotion more generally and this is to be regretted.”
While most U.S. democracy promotion does not involve the military, the high
military and opportunity cost of some activities currently associated with democracy
promotion is criticized by many observers, especially when democracy is imposed
by outsiders rather than initiated by local citizens.27 Democracy promotion
expenditures compete with domestic spending priorities. Critics note that using the
various tools to promote democracy abroad — foreign aid, military intervention,
diplomacy, and public diplomacy — can be very expensive and may provide little
assurance that real long-term gains will be made. They add that it involves a high
probability of sustaining costly long-term nation-building programs down the road.
At some point, Americans could view the opportunity cost of spending these funds
overseas rather than on domestic programs or other pressing global concerns, such
as infectious disease and extreme poverty, as being too great.
25 See, for example, Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 7; Adam Prseworski, Michael E.
Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub, and Fernando Limongi, Democracy and Development,
Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 270-271; Tony Smith, America Democracy
Promotion Abroad and the War in Iraq, presented at the Kyoto American Summer Seminar,
Kyoto, Japan, July 2003. Conversely, see Aparna Mathur, Foreign Investors Prefer
Predictability to Democracy, American Enterprise Institute, May 29, 2007, at
[http://american.com/archive/2007/may-0507/foreign-investor s-prefer-predictability-t o-
26 Thomas O. Melia, The Democracy Bureaucracy, The Infrastructure of American
Democracy Promotion, The Princeton Project on National Security, September 2005, p. 1.
27 President Clinton, in his National Security Strategy for Engagement and Enlargement,
said, “Democracy and economic prosperity can take root in a struggling society only through
local solutions carried out by the society itself.” 1996, p. ii.
Another concern about democracy promotion is that it can have a destabilizing
effect on an entire region. A 2005 Harvard Study concluded that “[Our] research
shows that incomplete democratic transitions — those that get stalled before reaching
the stage of full democracy — increase the chance of involvement in international
war in countries where governmental institutions are weak at the outset of the
transition.”28 At times, the region can become unstable because the transitioning
country initiates cross-border attacks, or may be the victim of these attacks,
particularly if it has weak democratic institutions or a weak military.29
While many democracy promotion proponents assert that democracies “don’t
war with each other,” a critic on the democracy peace theory, Joanne Gowa of
Princeton, contends that this theory has more to do with the alignment of interests
and the bipolar balance in the world after World War II than democracy/peace
characteristics that many today claim exist. She says that democratic peace is a Cold
War phenomenon; that is, the available data show that democratic peace is limited
to the years between 1946 and 1980.30 She additionally points out that there are
nondemocracies that do not war with each other and may be able to constrain their
leaders from embarking on military actions abroad about as effectively as
dem o craci es. 31
Some view democracy programs as inappropriately interfering in the domestic
politics of foreign countries, often producing a backlash (sometimes citing Russia)
against the organizations — both foreign and domestic — that carry them out. In
recent years, the United States has invested effort and money in democracy
promotion in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The recent backlash
against democratic reform in Russia, the elections of anti-American governments in
the Palestinian Territories, and the rise to elected office of Hezbollah in Lebanon
have caused some to question the value of U.S. democracy promotion investments.
While a recent USAID-commissioned study concluded that U.S. democracy and
governance assistance does have a positive effect on democracy growth worldwide,
the democracy gains were modest.32 At the same time, U.S. government and NGO
assistance for civil society strengthening can lead to human rights repercussions,
triggering some governments to react by clamping down on NGO activities and on
the local citizens.
28 Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, Electing to Fight, p. 4.
29 Ibid., pp. 33- 34.
30 Joanne Gowa, Ballots and Bullets, Princeton University Press, 1999, p. 113.
31 Ibid., p. 111.
32 USAID, Vanderbilt University and the Association Liaison Office, “Final Report: Effects
of U.S. Foreign Assistance on Democracy Building: Results of a Cross-National
Quantitative Study,” January 12, 2006, p. 83. The study determined that for every additional
$10 million dollars invested in democracy assistance, the country is predicted to gain one
quarter of a point on Freedom House democracy index.
Determinants of Success
A perfect democracy where all citizens have equal say in their government and
where the government is responsive equally to each of its citizens does not exist. Just
as democracies can evolve and grow more democratic, so too can they devolve and
become abusive, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable to their population.
Moreover, populations can become disinterested in working to maintain a
democracy. At what point can a country be declared a successful democracy?
Achieving Success: Means, Measures, and Challenges
A small number of successful transitions to democracy that began in the 1980s
and that have endured provide promise and hope for the success of ongoing and
future efforts. For example, four transitions — Chile, the Philippines, Poland, and
South Africa — are often cited as full successes,33 the first two of which were
transitions from authoritarian regimes, the third from a communist regime, and the
last from a racial apartheid. Other successful cases are sometimes characterized as
democracies still tainted by their state corporativist legacies, for instance Taiwan and
South Korea.34 These and other, perhaps less long-standing, examples — for
instance, Mozambique and Mali — illustrate the variety of circumstances from which
democracy can emerge. In addition, several transitions from conflict have been
recently viewed by some experts as demonstrating a fair degree of success (i.e.,
Algeria, Bosnia, El Salvador, Liberia, Serbia, and Sierra Leone), although
interpretations differ depending on the factors emphasized.
Despite the successes, democratization has proved to be a highly uncertain
venture. One recent study showed that only 23% of transitions from authoritarian
governments over the three decades from 1972 to 2003 resulted in democratic
governments, while the great majority (77%) resulted in another authoritarian
regime.35 Often, as in the cases listed above as demonstrating some success,
transitions are incomplete and subject to backsliding under adverse political and
economic strains. Indeed, there are several countries where backsliding has been
notable, including Russia and countries in Central Asia. December 2007 post-
election violence in Kenya also demonstrates backsliding. There is some evidence
that democratization across the globe has slowed or stagnated over the past decade,
33 Thomas Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve (hereafter referred
to as Aiding Democracy Abroad), Washington, D.C., Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, 1999, p. 104.
34 Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 250.
35 Axel Hadenius and Jan Teorell, “Pathways from Authoritarianism,” The Journal of
Democracy, vol. 18, no. 8, January 2007. The authors conclude that certain types of
authoritarian regimes — those with limited multi-party participation — are more likely to
democratize than others (i.e., monarchies, pure military regimes, pure one-party states, and
multi-party states with one dominant party).
and that many countries “in transition” are now resisting international
The United States provides democracy assistance to many countries in a variety
of circumstances and with mixed degrees of success. Analysts categorize country
circumstances and affects of assistance in different ways. Generally, analysts have
viewed U.S. democracy aid as facilitating transitions either from authoritarian or
communist rule, as in Latin America and Central Europe, or from conflict, as in
Bosnia and African nations such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.37 The range of U.S.
democracy promotion activities and programs also varies greatly, from assistance for
elections to aid in developing institutions and to funding of civil society groups.
(These types of assistance are discussed below.) Thus far, there is little agreement
among experts and practitioners on the circumstances in which democracy promotion
success may be achieved; the appropriate emphasis, sequencing, and mix of programs
to achieve it; and the time frame necessary for an enduring democracy to take hold.
Beyond the lack of consensus on what programs work best in certain
circumstances, the countries themselves have obstacles preventing their success in
attaining a democratic government. Many interests and emotions come into play
during such political transitions. Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace warns of some fundamental impediments: “The truth that politics
involves harshly competing interests, bitter power struggles, and fundamentally
conflicting values — not to mention greed, stupidity, and hatred — is downplayed
until it asserts itself, unwanted, at some later stage.”38 Generally, post-conflict
situations are considered more difficult and the success rate is considered lower,
although even where transitions have been seen as relatively smooth and successful,
as in Central Europe, recent events suggest that democratic change in post-
authoritarian circumstances can be difficult. Backsliding in some countries, such as
Kenya, increases the difficulty of determining not only when success has been
achieved, but consolidating lessons learned to refine the means of achieving success.
36 Arch Puddington, Freedom in the World 2007: Freedom Stagnation Amid Pushback
Against Democracy, p. 10, accessible through the Freedom House website:
article found a “pushback against democracy” to be a “major obstacle to the spread of
freedom in 2006.” It cites the number of electoral democracies in 2006 as 123, or 64% of
193 countries and the same number as in 2005. In contrast, an article by another author
cited the rapid rise, both in number and as a proportion of all independent states, of electoral
democracies during the 15 years from 1987-2002. Electoral democracies grew from 69 in
Making Democratization Work: Overcoming the Challenges of Political Transitions
(hereafter referred to as Making Democratization Work), Harvard International Review, vol.
37 Similarly, one expert perceives two types of democratic transitions: those that occur “in
the context of violent conflict and those that come about peacefully.” Karatnycky, Making
Democratization Work, p. 51. Another expert views categories transitions by status: (1)
countries moving forward in democratic transitions, (2) countries in which transitions are
stagnating or moving backwards, and (3) countries that have not achieved a significant
democratic opening or breakthrough. Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad, p. 304.
38 Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad, p. 102.
Means: Elections, Institutions, and Civil Society. The view that
democracy would be achieved if political leaders could be persuaded to govern
democratically, or when reasonably free and fair elections are held, has given way to
a range of other conditions that must be met for a country to be considered a
sustainable democracy. The idea that elections are a sufficient measure of success
was discarded as analysts realized that this measure “ignores the degree to which
multiparty elections (even if they are competitive and uncertain in outcome) may
exclude significant portions of the population from contesting for power or
advancing and defending their interests, or may leave significant arenas of decision
making beyond the control of elected officials.”39 Subsequently, two other means to
establish a democracy have become recognized as essential, although opinion is
divided as to which is the more important.
One is the promotion of strong democratic institutions. Diamond argues that the
political institutionalization — the establishment of “capable, complex, coherent and
responsive” formal institutions of democracy is the “single most important and urgent40
factor in the consolidation of democracy....” “If it is a liberal democracy that we
have in mind, then the political system must also provide for a rule of law, and
rigorously protect the right of individuals and groups to speak, publish, assemble,
demonstrate, lobby, and organize.” He lists a full range of institutions (i.e, “political
parties, legislatures, judicial systems, local government, and the bureaucratic
structures of the state more generally”).41 Carothers points to “troubled political
parties” as an “ubiquitous institutional deficiency” in “the global landscape of
attempted democratization,” examines their problems, and suggests new approaches42
to political party assistance.
Democracy assistance efforts may well face a wide range of impediments to the
establishment of viable institutions, however. According to Carothers, those
promoting transitions may often encounter “entrenched concentrations of political
power ... deeply rooted habits of patronage and corruption ... mutually hostile
socioeconomic or ethnic groups ...” (i.e., the underlying interests and power
relationships that are most often resistant to change).43 He suggests that democracy
assistance programs will be more effective by “building the underlying interests and
power relationships into [them],” but warns that effective programs “require much
deeper knowledge about the recipient society than most aid providers have or want
to take the trouble to acquire.”44
39 Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 9. For Diamond’s explanation of the 13 ways in
which a vibrant civil society promotes democratic development and consolidation, see pp.
40 Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 259.
42 Thomas Carothers, Confronting the Weakest Link: Aiding Political Parties in New
Democracies, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2006. p. vii.
43 Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad, pp. 106-107.
44 Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad, pp. 107-108.
The other means to promoting democracy is the creation of a vibrant civil
society, which many argue is the sine qua non for a functioning democracy.
Karatnycky views “an active and dynamic civil society” as “the crucial agent in
ensuring a durable, democratic outcome.... [T]he evidence from dozens of post-
conflict and post-authoritarian transitions shows that the best way for advanced
democracies to increase the chances for successful support of democratic openings
is by maximizing the resources devoted to the development of civic nonviolent
forces.”45 In a study published in 2002, he cited East Timor as a “case of
international intervention where it appears that things are going right” with major
credit because of the international community’s “major investment ... for independent
civil life, which bodes well for the future.” Reinforcing his judgment on the
importance of civil society is his view that “civic empowerment appears to be more
significant in determining democratic outcomes than whether or not a society
suffered wrenching violence.” Although some experts, such as Carothers and
Diamond, believe that political institutionalization is more critical, Diamond points
to civil society as promoting not only a transition to democracy, but also its
“deepening” and consolidation once democracy is established.46 While in Diamond’s
view, civil society does not play the central role initially, “the more active, pluralistic,
resourceful, institutionalized, and internally democratic civil society is ... the more
likely democracy will be to emerge and endure.”47
A lack of funding is often viewed as the most significant obstacle for the
creation of civil society non-governmental organizations in developing and even
middle-income countries. Many of these countries, including the upper-middle-
income countries such as Chile and Argentina where international donors are likely
to withdraw support, are “weak in the social capital and public-spiritedness which
enable civil society organizations to raise substantial funds from the private sectors
of their own countries,” according to Diamond.48 Without help from abroad, the only
recourse for such organizations is to turn to the state for funding, which creates its
The importance of any one of these three means to democracy is a subjective
judgment, as analysts’ opinions can differ and may well vary by type and even over
time. In a comparative study, Karatnycky views two countries torn by conflict in the
1980s (i.e., Nicaragua and El Salvador) as two success stories, which are “now
relatively stable democracies with competitive multiparty systems.”49 Although he
attributes success to strengthening of democratic civil society in Nicaragua and to
centrist and reform movements in El Salvador that helped build “vibrant civic
sectors,” Karatnycky also judges another factor as important (i.e., that both countries
45 Karatnycky, Making Democratization Work, p. 54.
46 Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 233.
47 Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 260.
48 Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 256.
49 Karatnycky, Making Democratization Work, p. 52.
had multiparty electoral structures during the periods of conflict that were conducive
to the use of elections as vehicles for eventual national reconciliation).50
Continuing Challenges. Democracy promotion is a highly uncertain art.
In an era of constrained resources, the policy and budgetary implications of
identifying the most appropriate modes and settings for democracy assistance, and
the means to success, can be profound. Even basic concepts are far from settled.
Many analysts, for instance, view transitions from conflict as a much greater
challenge than the transition from authoritarian regimes. While transitions from
authoritarian and communist regimes involve creating an entirely new political order,
and in communist regimes in particular a new economic order, post-conflict
transitions involve overcoming bitterly divided societies and economic devastation.
Many analysts suggest that post-conflict settings have special needs, especially
because ethnic loyalties and divisions may complicate the implementation of peace
settlements. For instance, “the danger of holding elections too early in a peace
process, the need to blend them with broader negotiations setting the political rules,
and the importance of avoiding winner-take-all scenarios” are important
considerations in post-conflict transitions, according to Carothers, who argues that
democracy promotion should be supplemented by other efforts. “Aid providers are
also focusing on reconciliation as an essential element of democratization in such
situations, an element that should be supported by aid efforts that consciously51
combine democracy and conflict resolution methodologies.” Some analysts suggest
that success and difficulties in democracy promotion in post-conflict settings can
vary by the nature of the conflict, however. “Success in such settings tends to be
found in situations where the conflict is based on politics rather than on ethnic or
religious differences,” according Karatnycky, who cites El Salvador and Nicaragua
as two successes of the former sort.52
In addition to the widespread view of ethnic differences as an impediment to
democracy building, most analysts believe that democracy is more likely to succeed
in areas with previous experience in and cultures adapted to democracy. “It is clear
that countries with no history of democracy, with desperate economic conditions and
powerful internal divisions are having a much harder time making democracy work
than countries with some pluralistic traditions, a growing economy, and a cohesive
social and cultural makeup,” according to Carothers. “Democracy promoters are just
beginning to relate democracy aid to the full range of factors bearing on democracy
beyond the political institutions and immediate problems of political life” including
economic conditions, educational levels, historical traditions, and social and cultural
divisions.53 Democracy promoters are gaining “an appreciation of the varied political54
paths, each requiring different approaches for democracy aid.”
50 Karatnycky, Making Democratization Work, p. 53.
51 Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad, p. 111.
52 Karatnycky, Making Democratization Work, p. 52.
53 Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad, p. 114.
54 Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad, p. 113.
Other analysts, however, discount ethnic differences and cultural factors as a
special impediment to democracy promotion. A 2003 RAND study on nation-
building concluded that “it is the level of effort the United States and the
international community put into the democratic transitions of Germany, Japan,
Bosnia, and Kosovo that led to relative success versus Somalia, Haiti, and
Afghanistan, not the latter’s levels of Western culture, economic development, or
cultural homogeneity.”55 “Nation-building ... is a time- and resource-consuming
effort,” the authors contend. “The United States and its allies have put 25 times more
money and 50 times more troops, on a per capita basis, into postconflict Kosovo than
into postconflict Afghanistan. This higher level of input accounts in significant
measure for the higher level of output measured in the development of democratic
institutions and economic growth.”56 The RAND analysts argue that democracy
promotion efforts may succeed in spite of specific difficulties: “The spread of
democracy in Latin America, Asia, and parts of Africa suggests that this form of
government is not unique to Western culture or to advanced industrial economies:
Democracy can, indeed, take root in circumstances where neither exists.”57
Differences in expectations and opinion regarding the circumstances and causes
of success may reflect the time frame, as well as factors examined. Bosnia-
Herzegovina is a prime example of the many lenses through which a transition can
be viewed and the factors that come into play in bringing about success. For
instance, in a study published in 2002, Karatnycky views democracy promotion in
Bosnia, an ethnically divided country, as unpromising, and faulted the 1995 Dayton
Accord that ended the civil conflict there as freezing the country “in an ethno-
political deadlock.”58 On the other hand, the RAND study, published a year later,
views Bosnia as achieving “a number of important successes,” including helping to
“ensure a united, multiethnic Bosnia.”59 It cites this outcome as evidence for its
conclusion that ethnic divisions and a lack of democratic antecedents and democratic
55 James Dobbins, John G. McGinn, Keith Crane, Seth G. Jones, Rollie Lal, Andrew
Tarhmell, Rachel Swanger, and Anga Timilsina, America’s Role in Nation-Building: From
Germany to Iraq (hereafter referred to as America’s Role), Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2003,
58 Karatnycky, Making Democratization Work, p. 53-54. The specific provisions he referred
to granted the “High Representative” (the top international official charged with carrying
out the Dayton Accord provisions) the right to remove Bosnian public officials “if they are
deemed to be obstructing the peace process — a right exercised frequently and often to the
detriment of democratic procedure and the sovereignty of citizens” and to “impose laws and
regulations on the country when local officials are unable to agree on important matters, a
frequent outcome given the unworkable system of ethnic checks and balances that emerged
from the Dayton Accords.” He judged that the “international community’s inability to
extract itself from Bosnia points to the deficiencies of overly intrusive international micro
management of post-conflict transitions.”
59 Dobbins, America’s Role, p. 95. This study also notes in the same paragraph, however,
that Bosnia “continues to be held together by the presence of a steadily decreasing number
of U.S. and international troops and civilians.”
culture are not necessarily impediments to a transition to democracy.60 In addition
to the level of international effort that the study pointed to, Bosnia’s geographic
“neighborhood” may contribute to its relative success. Some analysts have cited the
prospect and requirements of European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) membership as encouraging democratization in the Balkans
and Central Europe,61 and some believe that Bosnia’s proximity to, and the prospect
of membership in, the European Union is an important incentive to democratization
Difficulties of Defining and Measuring the Success of Democracy
Projects and Efforts. Actual measurement of the effect of democracy promotion
projects on democratization is, in the words of the National Endowment for62
Democracy (NED), “an overwhelming, if not impossible, task.” In a March 2006
report to Congress, the NED pointed out that success could have many definitions,
ranging from “whether the democratization of a country was the result of efforts
made by a particular action or set of actions to whether a single action moved63
forward one building block within a much larger democratization effort.” NED
notes that it does not believe “that democratic progress can be quantified in any64
meaningful way,” and even if it were possible to reliably assess outcomes
quantitatively, the cost would be prohibitive. Even qualitative measures can be
misleading, according to the NED report, if they do not take into account a wide
variety of criteria on a case-by-case basis. Among other factors, even qualitative
assessments must take into account whether a case is high-risk, whether sponsored
groups operate under limiting or deteriorating conditions, and whether projects are
sponsored as “long-term investments” in countries where democratization is not
expected to occur for many years.
Measuring the effects of democracy efforts as a whole, however necessary, can
be even more problematic. In an appendix to the 2006 NED report to Congress,
Stanford University’s Michael McFaul points to the need for a comprehensive
assessment of the global results of democracy promotion and suggests a detailed
project design for such a study. The lack of such an assessment, as well as a lack of
derivative materials for practitioners, is, in his judgment, an important policy
60 Dobbins, America’s Role, p. xix.
61 Marian L. Tupy, The Rise of Populist Parties in Central Europe: Big Government,
Corruption, and the Threat to Liberalism, CATO Institute Center for Global Liberty &
Prosperity, November 8, 2006, p. 7. Tupy believes, however, that the achievement of EU
membership has facilitated a relapse to populism in Central European countries.
62 National Endowment for Democracy, Evaluating Democracy Promotion Programs: A
Report to Congress from the National Endowment for Democracy (hereafter referred to as
Evaluating Democracy Promotion Programs), submitted to the House and Senate
Appropriations Committees in response to a reporting requirement contained in the
conference report (Conf. Rept. 109-272) accompanying H.R. 2862, the Science, State,
Justice, Commerce Appropriations Act for FY2006, March 2006, p. 5.
Currently, there is a scarcity of literature to inform and guide the decisions of
senior policymakers.... Every day, literally tens of thousands of people in the
democracy promotion business go to work without training manuals or blueprints
in hand. Even published case studies of previous successes are hard to find in
the public domain, which means that democracy assistance efforts are often
reinventing the wheel or making it up as they go along, as was on vivid display
in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Even basic educational materials for students65
seeking to specialize in democracy promotion do not exist.
U.S. Government Activities to Promote Democracy
For years, the U.S. government has supported numerous bilateral and
multilateral activities that promote democracy around the world. Both the executive
and congressional branches of government are involved.
Executive Branch Activities
The Bush Administration has been heavily invested in promoting democracy to
other countries. A theme in Secretary Rice’s Transformational Diplomacy,
announced in January 2006, is her plan to reform U.S. diplomacy and foreign
assistance activities with a key objective of promoting democracy in other
Bilateral Programs. Specific executive branch bilateral government
activities that support democracy reform include providing aid to support election
procedures and good governance practices, assisting in building the legal system,
assisting in military and police training, and teaching the importance of a free press.
Public diplomacy programs such as U.S. international broadcasting, exchanges, and
international information programs promote democracies overseas by showcasing
American democracy and culture. Some exchanges provide foreign participants with
training and experience in broadcast or print media techniques. The Millennium
Challenge Account (MCA), a foreign assistance program proposed by President Bush
in 2002 and authorized by Congress in 2004, was designed to provide foreign aid to
countries that make progress toward democratic and economic reform.
The Department of State is considered to be the lead agency for democracy
promotion activities; others involved with democracy promotion include the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID), the Departments of Defense and
Justice, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. In addition, numerous NGOs,
including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and The Asia Foundation,
65 National Endowment for Democracy, Evaluating Democracy Promotion Programs, p. 18.
Dr. McFaul is the Director of Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and
the Rule of Law.
66 For more detail on Transformational Diplomacy, see CRS Report RL34141, Diplomacy
for the 21st Century: Transformational Diplomacy, by Kennon H. Nakamura and Susan B.
are fully involved in democracy promotion abroad. They receive congressionally
appropriated funds that are passed to them through the Department of State’s budget.
U.S. government funding for democracy programs is primarily within the State
Department/Foreign Operations budget. Referred to as the Governing Justly and
Democratically strategic objective, this funding is allocated by account and by
region. (See Table 1 below.) Governing Justly and Democratically includes four
!Rule of Law and Human Rights. Funding under this heading
supports constitutions, laws and legal systems, justice systems,
judicial independence, and human rights.
!Good Governance. Funding under this supports legislative functions
and processes, public sector executive functions, security sector
governance, anti-corruption reforms, local governance, and
decent ral i z at i on.
!Political Competition and Consensus-Building. This category
supports elections and political processes, political parties, and
!Civil Society. Funding focuses on media freedom, freedom of
information, and civic participation.
In addition to funds for Governing Justly and Democratically, the Department
of State budget contains funds that are transferred to the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED) and The Asia Foundation. NED’s FY2008 total request is $80
million, of which about $70 million will go for democracy program support. The
Asia Foundation’s FY2008 total budget request is $10 million, of which about $8.8
million will support democracy promotion. Therefore, the total estimated funding
request for democracy promotion activities in FY2008 was over $1.5 billion out of
a total foreign affairs budget request of $36.2 billion.
Table 1. Governing Justly and Democratically Programs: FY2008 Funding Request, by Region
($ U.S. thousands)
DA ESF TI S EED F S A I NCLE ACI I O & P Tot a l
85,564131,983880 — — 1,850 — — 220,277
ional450575 — — — — — — 1,025
reau of — 35,000 — — — — — — 35,000
an Rights and
g/wmocracy,18,270 — 15,410 — — — — — 33,680
http5,80045,999 — — — 2,250 — — 54,049
ic2,000 — — — — — — — 2,000
— — — 90,087105,590 — — — 195,677
DA ESF TI S EED F S A I NCLE ACI I O & P Tot a l
— — — — — 9,815 — — 9,815
— — — — — — — 22,67522,675
— 335,520 — — — 71,820 — — 407,340
24,346173,000 — — 22,85071,600 — — 291,796
iki/CRS-RL3429671,56793,049 — — — 4,2655,750 — 174,631
leakT AL 207,997 815,126 16,290 90,087 128,440 161,600 5,750 22,675 1,447,965
://wikiDA=Development Assistance, ESF=Economic Support Fund, TI=Transition Initiatives, SEED=Support for Eastern European Democracy, FSA=Freedom Support Act,
httpE=International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, ACI=Andean Counterdrug Initiative, IO&P=International Organizations and Programs
The Department of State, Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance, August 24, 2007.
Multilateral Programs. The U.S. government also contributes to a number
of multilateral efforts to promote or monitor democratic reform around the world.
Included are the United Nations Development Program, the U.N. Democracy Fund,
the Community of Democracies, and Freedom House, as well as the World Bank and
the Organization of American States (OAS).
An indication of the level of importance Secretary Rice places on democracy
promotion is her announcement to establish the Advisory Commission on Democracy
Promotion to “help us think about the issues of democracy promotion, to from time
to time give us constructive criticism on what it is that we’re doing, as well as
constructive suggestions about what more we might do.” What the Commission will
not do, however, which many foreign policy observers say is needed, is coordinate
all the many facets of democracy promotion activities in which the U.S. government
is involved. A coordination mechanism, experts say, would contribute to improving
the effectiveness and efficiency of ongoing programs and would help to minimize the
possibility of democracy promotion programs and U.S. tax dollars working at cross
purposes. Furthermore, some observers note, there is a lack of global coordination
among developed countries supporting democracy promotion throughout the world.
From their perspective, improved communication among developed democracies and
letting each specialize in its area of comparative advantage, whether economic,
cultural, or geographical, could further democracy promotion effectiveness
worldwide while keeping costs down.
Congress also plays a role in democracy promotion. Setting funding levels and
providing oversight of Administration democracy promotion programs are typically
how Congress influences U.S. democracy promotion programs. The House of
Representatives also created the House Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC)
to help other governments’ legislative branches evolve. (See below and Appendix
B for a history of congressional democracy promotion activities.)
From the 101st Congress through the first session of the 110th Congress,
numerous pieces of legislation were introduced and passed to authorize and
appropriate funds for democracy promotion in specific countries and regions, and to
press governments of non-democratic countries to begin a process of
democratization. Significant sums were appropriated for democracy programs
through the annual State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations. In
FY2006, Congress created the Democracy Fund in the Foreign Operations
Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2006 (P.L. 109-102, Title III), which provided $94.1
million for various democracy promotion activities in FY2006 and the same amount
for FY2007.67 In addition, Congress passed the Implementation of the 9/11
Commission Act (P.L. 110-53/H.R. 1), which includes Title XXI, Advancing
Democratic Values, Subtitle A — Activities to Enhance the Promotion of
67 Money in this fund is spread across the numerous programs included in the Foreign
Operations budget and is included in Table 1 funds.
In the first session of the 110th Congress, several bills involving democracy
promotion were introduced. The ADVANCE Democracy Act of 2007 (H.R. 982),
introduced on February 12, 2007, by Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA) and others,
contains provisions to promote democracy in foreign countries, calls for specific
State Department actions and reports with regard to non-democracies, aims to
strengthen the “Community of Democracies,” and authorizes funding for democracy
assistance for FY2008 and FY2009. Other bills introduced in the 110th Congress
address democracy in individual countries, including the Ukraine, Venezuela,
Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Serbia.
Building on a long tradition of supporting the development of democracies and
democratic institutions around the world in many ways,68 Congress currently carries
out its own program to support legislatures in new democracies. The House
Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC) was created in March 2005, in effect
the successor effort to previous congressional legislative assistance programs in the
1990s. HDAC was established to enable Members, officers, and staff of the House
of Representatives and congressional support agencies to provide expert advice to
fledgling legislatures on subjects such as committee operations, oversight, constituent
relations, parliamentary procedures, and the establishment of support services. To
date, the HDAC has assisted legislatures of 12 countries throughout the world.69
Considerations for Congress
The democracy promotion rubric encompasses a wide range of policies and
activities. As noted in the previous section on measuring success, experts have yet
to carry out the type of comprehensive studies that can reliably establish a cause-and-
effect relationship between efforts and outcomes. Nevertheless, there is a general
sense that some types of situations are harder to influence than others and require
considerable debate over the appropriate balance of U.S. interests and risks to the
domestic populations in the high cost-high stakes cases. The following provides an
overview of perceptions of different types of cases and the debate about the
circumstances in which assistance is appropriate.
At the low cost-low risk end of the spectrum are programs whose distinctive
feature is that assistance is targeted to countries that have already embarked on
democratic transitions independently and with strong domestic popular support, as
in Central Europe, the Baltic countries, and some countries of Latin America, Asia,
and Africa. Such assistance has been requested and embraced by the receiving
countries. Most of these countries were committed to democratic reforms, with or
without foreign assistance, and might have succeeded without it. It is difficult to
document and quantify the value added of U.S. and other assistance programs.
However, the general belief in donor and recipient countries, alike, is that democracy
promotion activities, largely consisting of training and technical assistance, have had
a positive impact at a relatively modest cost. Even where governments have
68 See Appendix A for a syntheses of these activities since World War II.
69 For more detail on this program, see Appendix A.
seemingly retreated from their democratic course, as many would argue is the case
in Russia today, such programs are seen as worth the investment and possibly having
a longer-term positive impact.
Medium cost-medium risk efforts include programs to help bring stability and
democracy to postconflict societies in which an intrastate conflict has resulted in a
brokered peace agreement. The challenges are often greater and the prospects more
uncertain because the populations have only begun a process of reconciliation.
Often, new systems are being imposed from outside as part of a peace settlement,
without buy-in, necessarily, from all parties. These transitions frequently require
international enforcement and monitoring with civilian officials and military forces
on the ground, making such efforts much more costly but with the potential for a
substantial payoff if they can bring stability to a crisis region, bolster potential failed
states, and deny terrorist sanctuaries. The road to success may be significantly
longer, and the outcome much less certain, than where democracy was launched from
within under relatively stable circumstances. Such efforts have been seen as
achieving positive results in countries of the former Yugoslavia, East Timor, and
The debate among policy makers has centered on the high-cost, high-risk, high-
stakes cases (i.e., efforts to foster domestically driven transitions from authoritarian
regimes and the imposition of regime change through military intervention).
Experts and policy makers are still wrestling with the challenges of whether and
how to promote democracy in authoritarian states that are key allies and of strategic
importance to the United States. In these cases, applying a principled approach
consistent with our rhetoric by pressuring governments to ease repression and
instituting real democratic reform could unleash forces far worse than what now
exists in these countries, some believe. Often, authoritarian governments that the
United States needs and that need the United States, especially in the fight against
terrorism, are unwilling to liberalize and warn that to do so would risk bringing
extremist forces to the fore. On the other hand, some argue, the failure to oppose
regimes viewed as corrupt and ruthless by their own people has been pointed to as
one of the major factors impeding U.S. success in the larger battle for “hearts and
minds,” especially in the Islamic World from which terrorists seek to draw recruits
The imposition of democracy through military intervention, with the ultimate
goal of imposing a new democratic system, is, if possible, even more problematic.
Regime change through military force has worked in some cases, such as Grenada
in 1983 and Panama in 1989, where the goal was to restore a pre-existing
constitutional order. In more recent military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq
to oust existing despotic regimes, the goal of building democracy initially was
secondary, but later became primary. The difficulties of establishing democracy in
those cases is reminiscent of other cases of military intervention by the United States
and other countries, such as Somalia, Lebanon, and Vietnam, where questions were
raised as to whether the cultural or institutional basis for democracy exists, and
whether such conditions could be fostered through intervention.70 While some doubt
that even limited democracy is possible in such cases, others argue that U.S. interests
in promoting democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, as models for Middle Eastern
development, is so high that the United States would be making a serious error if it
did not try.
Even if democracy becomes clearly defined, can administrations investing in
democracy promotion ever rest assured that a country transitioning toward
democratic reform will not backslide? According to a leading democracy expert,
“Democracy can deteriorate at any point in its development; its quality and stability
can never be taken for granted.”71 Some question if — once the United States has
been involved in democracy promotion in a particular country — it can ever
withdraw. And others wonder how many countries can the U.S. government push
toward democracy before the American taxpayer says “enough.” By clearly
identifying, targeting, and coordinating assistance to countries that have the greatest
potential for succeeding to become democracies,72 the U.S. taxpayers stand the best
chance of benefitting from a foreign policy that includes funding democracy reform
70 See CRS Report RL30184, Military Interventions by U.S. Forces from Vietnam to Bosnia:
Background, Outcomes, and “Lessons Learned” for Kosovo, by Nina M. Serafino.
71 Larry Diamond, Developing Democracy, p. 273.
72 Countries that have a stable government, a competitive multiparty system, an active civil
society, sound financial and legal institutions, well-established infrastructure, and
independent media, among other criteria.
Appendix A. Requirements for the Community
While the Community of Democracies does not define what a democracy is, it
has established a list of requirements that countries must meet to become members.
To become a member of the Community of Democracies, governments must have the
!Free, fair and periodic elections, by universal and equal suffrage,
conducted by secret ballot.
!The freedom to form democratic political parties that can participate
!A guarantee that everyone can exercise his or her right to take part
in the government of his or her country, directly or through freely
!The rule of law.
!The obligation of an elected government to protect and defend the
constitution, refraining from extra-constitutional actions and to
relinquish power when its legal mandate ends.
!Ensuring equality before the law and equal protection under the law,
including equal access to the law.
!Separation of powers, separation of the judiciary, legislative and
executive independence of the judiciary from the political or any
other power and ensuring that the military remains accountable to
democratically elected civilian government.
!The respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the inherent
dignity of the human being, notably.
!Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, belief, peaceful assembly
and association, freedom of speech, of opinion and of expression,
including to exchange and receive ideas and information through any
media, regardless of frontiers: free, independent and pluralistic
!The right of every person to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention
from torture or any other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
!The right to a fair trial, including to be presumed innocent until
proven guilty and to be sentenced proportionally to the crime, free
from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.
!The right to full and non-discriminatory participation, regardless of
gender, race, colour, language, religion or belief, in the political,
economical and cultural life.
!The promotion of gender equality.
!The rights of children, elderly, and persons with disabilities.
!The rights of national, ethnic, and religious or linguistic minorities,
including the right to freely express, preserve, and develop their
!The right of individuals to shape their own destiny free from any
Governments are to defend and to protect all of these rights and to provide the
appropriate legislation for this purpose. The observance of international law, as well
as of internationally accepted democratic principles and values, and respect for
universally accepted labour standards, is required.
Appendix B. Background on Congressional
Democracy Promotion Activities
Congressional interest in U.S. policies aimed at protecting, strengthening, or
reestablishing democracy in other parts of the world has a long history. After World
War II, Congress was at first skeptical about further aid to Europe but eventually
supported Administration policies to help war-torn western Europe and Japan on a
bipartisan basis. The Marshall Plan and other economic aid programs were endorsed
in the belief that U.S. security and prosperity would be furthered by the emergence74
of stable and prosperous democracies in Western Europe and Japan. During the
Cold War, this approach was not always followed. Authoritarian regimes were
supported by both Congress and the executive branch, for example, during certain
periods in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey, as a perceived bulwark against the
expansion of communism.
At the same time, Congress took a strong interest in U.S. policies aimed at
fostering liberalization and advancing individual freedom and loosening Moscow’s
control in Soviet-dominated communist countries. Through the 1950s and 1960s,
much of this support was rhetorical, as containment of Soviet power within its75
existing sphere of influence remained the dominant U.S. strategy. However by the
“detente” period of the 1970s, Congress saw real opportunities for fostering
liberalization in Eastern Europe. Following the conclusion of the Conference on
Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and the signing of the CSCE Final Act
in 1975, Congress established a Commission (the Commission on Security and
Cooperation in Europe or “Helsinki” Commission) in 1976, as a joint congressional-
executive body to oversee U.S. efforts to implement provisions that would help to
ease government repression and enhance human rights in the Soviet sphere.76 Today,
the renamed Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has a core
mission to support democratic development in all 56 member states, including the
countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Members of Congress are directly
engaged in that effort through their participation in the OSCE Parliamentary
74 For information on the Marshall Plan, post-World War II U.S. assistance, and the
congressional role, see CRS Report 97-62, The Marshall Plan: Design, Accomplishments,
and Relevance to the Present, by Curt Tarnoff.
75 For a synopsis of the strategy of containment, the controversy surrounding it, and sources
for further reading, see [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/cwr/17601.htm].
76 P.L. 94-304, 90 Stat. 661 (22 U.S.C. 3001-3009), June 3, 1976, established the
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor compliance with or violation
of the articles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe,
with particular regard to human rights; see [http://www.csce.gov].
Assembly, established in 1991.77 The CSCE continues to function as a largely
congressional organization to support and monitor the activities of the OSCE.78
With the fall of communism in central and eastern Europe and the collapse of
the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991, Members of Congress took a strong
interest in the evolution of the region. They supported and promoted U.S.
government democracy assistance programs through the authorization,
appropriations, and oversight process, first in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia,
and then in the Baltic states and other countries of central and eastern Europe. Major
legislation supporting democratic assistance to the region included the Support for
East European Democracy (SEED) Act of 1989 (P.L.101-179) and the FREEDOM
Support Act (FSA) of 1991 (P.L. 102-511), the latter directed at the newly
independent countries of the former Soviet Union. A portion of the assistance
provided under these acts has gone to the strengthening of democratic institutions.
As the democratic tide spread to other parts of the world from the early 1990s
on, congressional interest in democracy promotion also became more universal.
In some instances, Congress has supported democracy-focused conditionality
in international agreements, measures granting trade benefits to foreign countries, and
admission to certain multilateral organizations. So called “democracy clauses” have
been included in a number of treaties and international agreements. The use of
democracy clauses, while not widespread, has generated growing interest in recent
years with the expansion of the number of democracies in the world. Some of the
most effective regional security and trade organizations include democracy criteria
among their explicit or implicit membership requirements. The most far-reaching
democracy clauses are contained in provisions of North Atlantic, European, and
Inter-American organizations. Enforcement mechanisms vary. Few explicitly
require expulsion of a country that abandons democracy. A “Community of
Democracies” Ministerial Conference of 107 nations in Warsaw, Poland, June 2000,
had on its discussion agenda the topic of incorporating democracy clauses in charter
documents for multinational organizations and assessing the value of enforcement
mechanisms against member states where democracy is overthrown.79
NATO was established in 1949 with strong congressional backing as a security
alliance of countries with “shared values.” Beyond this statement of principles, no
specific criteria for membership were spelled out, and not all members were
democracies throughout the history of the organization. However, in the NATO
enlargement process and the NATO Partnership for Peace established in the 1990s,
commitment to democracy became an explicit criterion for participation, with the
approval of Congress. When the first new countries were formally accepted as full
members in 1999 (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia), it was on the
77 For information on the activities of the Assembly, see the official website at
78 The Commission has always been primarily a congressional body with executive branch
members playing a secondary role.
basis that they were recognized as full-fledged democracies. The European Union
(EU) requires implicitly that member countries be democracies. Given the level of
political and economic integration, the EU probably could not function if member
countries did not have a real convergence of political systems. Democracy criteria
are more clearly spelled out in the requirements for accession of new members.80
The EU also has stressed principles of democracy in its agreements with other
countries and regions, thereby using its significant economic leverage to strengthen
democracy and human rights in other countries.81 One factor widely credited for the
relatively smooth and successful democratic transitions of the countries of central and
eastern Europe is that the associations they sought to ensure their future security and
prosperity, namely NATO and EU membership, were attainable only with the
consolidation of democratic institutions and processes. With this benefit in mind,
many Members of Congress are pressing for further NATO enlargement and urging
the EU to accept other new members. Similar bills introduced in the House and
Senate, H.R. 987 and S. 494, the “NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007,” seek
admittance of new NATO members.
Relations with Other Parliaments
Congress has a history of relations with other democratic parliaments. Members
of Congress have attached importance to maintaining a legislative dimension to U.S.
relations with key neighbors, allies, and organizations. The U.S. Congress has long
been involved in multilateral parliamentary groups that hold regular exchanges and
meetings. Current groups in which Congress participates include the NATO
Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Transatlantic Dialogue (the U.S.
Congress-European Assembly inter-parliamentary group). Formal and regular
bilateral parliamentary exchanges have long been held between the U.S. Congress
and the Parliaments of Canada, Mexico, and Britain. Other congressional groups
have been formed to focus on relations with other individual legislatures, including
Germany, Japan, South Korea, China, and the Baltic States. Inter-parliamentary
meetings have given Members an opportunity to establish contacts with their
counterparts, to compare best practices, and to address specific issues of concern to
the Congress and constituents, including human rights in particular. The United
80 At its 1993 meeting, the EU’s European Council set out very explicit conditions for new
states to become EU members. These became known as the “Copenhagen Criteria.” The
first condition is that the country has achieved “stability of institutions guaranteeing
democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities.”
Each year, the European Commission prepares a report on progress toward accession by
candidate countries, providing a strong incentive to eager candidates to stay on a democratic
81 A number of other bilateral and multilateral agreements make reference to democratic
principles, beginning with the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Senate approved U.S. mutual
defense agreements with countries such as Japan (1960), Spain (1988), Greece (1990), and
Turkey (1980) make democratic principles a foundation of their relations, as do a number
of bilateral economic and scientific agreements. The Charter of the Organization of
American States (OAS) affirms as a basis the effective exercise of representative
democracy; see [http://www.oas.org/juridico/English/charter.html].
States was a founding member of the worldwide organization of parliaments, the
Interparliamentary Union (IPU), although it withdrew from the organization in 1999,
after not having participated in meetings since 1994.82
Over the years, Congress has taken a particular interest and on occasion become
directly involved in democracy programs to strengthen legislatures in new
democracies. After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the democratic transitions
that began in Poland and Hungary, many Members of the House and Senate traveled
to Central Europe to see developments firsthand. Several Members came back with
a sense that the U.S. Congress should do something, as a body, to show solidarity
with and to help strengthen democratic parliaments in the region.83
In 1990, Congress took the unprecedented step of establishing its own program
to assist new democracies develop strong legislatures. The first congressional
initiative to help the new democratic parliaments of central and eastern Europe was
directed to Poland by the U.S. Senate. Senate Concurrent Resolution 74 (101st
Congress, 1989) established a congressional “Gift of Democracy” to Poland. The
program provided computers, library materials, and training from the U.S. Senate to
the Polish Senate, with the help of the Congressional Research Service (CRS),
Library of Congress, and other support agencies. The second such initiative was
launched by the House of Representatives. In April 1990, House Speaker Thomas
Foley appointed a bipartisan Task Force of Members of Congress to provide support
for the new democratic parliaments of central and eastern Europe on the initiative of
Representative Martin Frost (D-Texas). He appointed Representative Frost as
Chairperson; Representative Gerald B. Solomon (R-NY) became the ranking
minority member. The House Special Task Force on the Development of
Parliamentary Institutions in Eastern Europe initially focused its efforts on Poland,
Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. In 1991, the Task Force began a program of
82 The IPU was established in 1889 as an association of individual parliamentarians and the
world’s first permanent multilateral political forum. The United States was one of the
original participants in IPU activities begun in 1889 and formally joined in 1935 when the
House and Senate enacted statutory authority for U.S. participation in the IPU (49 Stat. 425).
Congressional participation in the IPU gradually diminished. In July 1997, Congress
(through the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate) notified the IPU that, given the
diminished congressional participation, the U.S. Congress could no longer justify the
annual U.S. contribution of almost $1 million or 15% of the IPU annual budget and had
decided to reduce its membership status and proposed to make an annual donation of
$500,000 to support the aims of the organization. The IPU Executive Committee did not
accept the offer so, in 1998, Congress passed legislation to end U.S. participation on
October 1, 1999 (ultimately attached to P.L. 105-277, Sec. 2503). It would presumably
require new legislation to restore U.S. membership.
83 In 1989, the world was surprised by the sudden collapse of the communist regimes
throughout central and eastern Europe and the equally sudden dissolution of the Soviet
empire, two years later. While the process of transition toward a multiparty system and
market economy had already started in Poland and Hungary, there had been no indication
of how fast or how far this process would go. While the pace and direction of change
varied, the overwhelming consensus in central and eastern Europe favored establishment
or restoration of parliamentary democracy and integration with the western countries of the
assistance to the Bulgarian National Assembly. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were
added to the program in 1992. Albania was included in 1993, as were the Czech
Republic and Slovakia, after the Czechoslovak split, and Romania. With the backing
of congressional leadership and the Joint Committee on the Library, the
Congressional Research Service undertook additional programs of cooperation with
the Russian and Ukrainian legislatures.
U.S. Foreign Assistance to Developing Legislatures
At the time of these congressional initiatives, there were few U.S. foreign aid
programs directed at developing legislative infrastructures. Congress initiated its
parliamentary development efforts in Eastern Europe without any preconceived
notion of what was needed. The intent was to offer practical assistance, without
trying to impose American or other models or suggesting specific solutions to given
problems. The objective was to provide comparative information on how the United
States and other countries have approached legislative tasks and solved particular
problems. It was understood that West European parliamentary models were more
relevant to many of the new democracies than was the American congressional
model, particularly with regard to structures and procedures. The Task Force
established a legislature-to-legislature program, on a non-partisan basis. The
programs provided technical assistance to strengthening parliamentary infrastructure,
especially the research and information services, streamlining work with modern
automation and office systems, and providing training to Members of Parliament and
staff. The programs aimed to help improve the efficiency of the legislatures, enhance
the professionalism of Members and staff, and increase transparency and
accountability. These programs, conceived from the start as short-term jump starts
for nascent democratic parliaments, were completed by the end of 1996. By that
time, legislative strengthening programs had become a major focus and priority of
other USAID-funded projects building on the Frost Task Force program.
The U.S. House of Representatives program was judged by outside observers,
including aid evaluators and recipients of the aid in the assisted parliaments, to have
played a unique and important role in helping to strengthen the legislatures of new
democracies. Perhaps most importantly, the program provided the direct
involvement of Members of Congress with MPs that was seen as giving recognition
and a boost to the new legislatures at a critical time. In the recipient parliaments and
among the public in those countries, there was awareness and appreciation that the
U.S. Congress was the first legislature to immediately reach out with a gesture of
support and practical help to the new parliaments. The programs were seen as
bringing considerable good will toward the United States.
The House Democracy Assistance Commission
After a hiatus of many years, Members of the 109th Congress launched a new
initiative to directly help strengthen legislative institutions in other new democracies.
The House Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC) was created by the House
of Representatives on March 14, 2005 (H.Res. 135, 109th Congress). Representative
David Dreier (R-CA) was named Chairman, and Representative David Price (D-NC)
was named the ranking Member. When House Speaker Dennis Hastert announced
the formation of the Commission, he stated, “For many of our global neighbors,
democracy is still a new concept.... It is my hope that this initiative will help the
United States generate constructive dialogue where communication is needed most.
With this commission, we’re sending them the expertise of the premier democratic
body in the world, the United States House of Representatives.” Accepting the
appointment, Chairman Dreier said that
the importance of promoting democracy worldwide is at an all-time high. But
we know that the real work of democracy begins only after the election. Central
to success of any democracy is a functional, strong, independent legislature
which can act as a check on the executive branch. Through this Commission, the
House will be able to advise its counterparts in subjects like committee
operations, oversight, constituent relations, parliamentary procedure, and the
establishment of services like the CRS and the Congressional Budget Office
(CBO). This effort will be good for America as well, spreading goodwill in
countries where it is sorely needed.
When the 2006 elections brought Democrats into the majority, legislation
(H.Res. 24) was introduced to reauthorize the Commission in January 2007, with
Representative David Price as Chairman and Representative David Dreier as ranking
Member. In all, 20 Members (11 Democrats and 9 Republicans) were appointed to
serve on the Commission in the 110th Congress.
The Commission’s stated mission is to strengthen democratic institutions by
assisting parliaments in emerging democracies. The focus of the Commission’s work
is to provide technical expertise to enhance accountability, transparency, legislative
independence, and government oversight in partner parliaments. Specifically, HDAC
aims to (1) work with the parliaments of selected countries that have established or
are developing democratic parliaments that would benefit from assistance; (2) enable
Members, officers, and staff of the House of Representatives and congressional
support agencies to provide expert advice to members and staff of the parliaments of
such countries, including visits to the House and support agencies to observe their
operations firsthand; and (3) make recommendations to the Administrator of the
USAID regarding the provision of needed material assistance to such parliaments to84
improve the efficiency and transparency of their work.
The Commission selects partner countries based on their democratic transitions,
their interest in a program of cooperation with the U.S. House of Representatives,
with attention to geographic diversity and, over time, including countries from
Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Western
Hemisphere. To date, the Commission has selected 12 countries in which to conduct
programs: Afghanistan, Colombia, East Timor, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya,
Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mongolia, and Ukraine. Iraq is also a candidate
84 See HDAC website: [http://hdac.house.gov/].