Democratic Emerging Powers and Democracy Promotion

by Gerd Schönwälder

CIPS has just received the report on a conference it helped facilitate in October 2013 on the role of democratic emerging powers (DEPs)—such as India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, and Turkey—in supporting democracy beyond their own borders. Presented by CIPS in partnership with the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the conference convened an international group of experts including academics, researchers, development practitioners and other stakeholders.

With about half of the participants coming from the countries in question, there were spirited debates around these countries’ respective trajectories and the various drivers and motivations behind the policies they have adopted. The direction of these trajectories is not uniform: while some DEPs have become more assertive, some remain cautious and others seem to be retreating. That said, there was agreement that the role of the DEPs in international promotion efforts was growing, reflecting their increasing clout in international affairs.

The conference participants were also keen to draw comparisons and examine questions pointing beyond the experiences of individual countries. Several issues stood out, particularly the need to revisit standard definitions of democracy and democracy promotion and to make greater use of non-liberal approaches; to collect more and better empirical data on the democracy support of all the DEPs; and to get a clearer idea of the multilateral initiatives undertaken by the DEPs in this area.

Further activities resulting from the conference are in the works, notably a publication of select conference papers in the coming year. Stay tuned.

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