Effective Democracy Assistance

29 January 2008
Brussels, Belgium

Democracy assistance has grown enormously in the volume of expenditure since 1989, but until recently there has been little assessment of what works and what doesn’t. Partnership for democracy building is based on support for a process which is fundamentally political, and not just technical. I need only cite the recent events in Kenya, where questionable election results have sparked terrible violence, reminding us that free and fair elections are a key means for preventing conflict, while flawed elections can produce the opposite result.

While the international community has had considerable experience in supporting the conduct of elections in developing countries, free and fair elections do not, by themselves, provide an adequate foundation for democracy. All too often, the euphoria of elections that faithfully transmit the will of the people is followed by disappointment as newly elected governors fail to deliver on their promises. The concept of effective democratic assistance - and I emphasise the word "effective" – can and should be applied to a wide range of democracy support activities, if not all of them. I would like initially to discuss two key areas - electoral processes and political parties - which are, of course, intimately related.

About the Speaker

Former International IDEA Director for Asia and the Pacific
Andrew Ellis