NDI’s staff in DC, Silicon Valley, and 50+ offices around the world represent a deep repository of expertise and practical experience in the areas of democracy and international affairs. We promise to keep bringing you their insights and analysis through this platform, and to increasingly include the voices expert guest bloggers from our partner organizations. Here’s the list of DemWorks’ most read blog posts from 2018.
As 2018 draws to a close, I want to express my gratitude for your support in my transition back to NDI as its president – a true homecoming. Democracy faces serious challenges with the rise of new technologies and the resurgence of authoritarianism. While some may fall into fatalism, that is not NDI's way, and it is unworthy of those who have fought for freedom and democracy over many decades. NDI will continue to meet this moment head-on with innovative approaches that maximize potential opportunities as well as mitigate challenges, just as we did throughout 2018.
As part of a series of events organized by NDI’s Jordan youth political participation program Ana Usharek and the Al-Hayat Center for Civil Society Development – NDI’s local partner – 60 Ana Usharek students participated in a networking and coalition-building event on December 5 with 43 local civil society organizations in Zarqa, Jordan. Photo Credit: NDI Jordan
It is important to remember the task of safeguarding democracy at home, and encouraging and supporting democracy abroad is an unending one. There is no such thing as a fully consolidated democracy. Various shocks and strains, whether internal or exogenous, will constantly test the resilience of democratic institutions. Likewise, there is no such thing as a “graduated” emerging democracy.
Volodymyr Kaplun and Chris Doten opening conversation on emerging cybersecurity threats in Ukraine
The internet has never felt like a scarier place. Whether from sophisticated nation-state actors or freelancing hackers, democracy and human rights organizations face dangerous threats online. Despite the risks, civic and political players must be active in the digital arena with their country’s citizens to have an impact. NDI is working to help these organizations engage online and stay safe. Ukraine is in a dangerous digital neighborhood so political parties, civil society organizations and elected officials have a heightened need for cybersecurity.
A man smiles as he uses the Braille ballot guide in Osun state, Nigeria.
In advocating for strong democratic institutions around the world, it is easy to overlook the rich diversity of democratic traditions across nations. In the United States, presidential hopefuls descend on Iowa every four years to grill steaks for eager caucus-goers. In London, commuters tune to BBC Radio to hear the prime minister and opposition leader spar on issues of the day. And in Nigeria, voters press their thumbs into ink pads, locate the name and party of their chosen candidate, and leave a thumbprint to mark their democratic choice.
Andi Parhamovich Fellow Alaa Hammouda giving her final presentation at NDI's headquarters in Washington, D.C., on "Strengthening Young Women's Civic Engagement in Gaza. Credit: Jesper Frant
An opportunity to travel from Palestine to the United States was almost an impossible dream for me. When I applied for the 2018 Andi Parhamovich Fellowship Award, I was not very optimistic that I would win. I said to myself, if NDI needs to choose one young woman leader from the whole world, they won’t pick someone from Gaza because they know that traveling out of the country is almost impossible for Gazans. So when I was selected as the recipient of the award, I felt that I was the luckiest woman this year. It was indeed a dream come true. I felt that I was finally breaking through the walls around me to see the world which I have always wished to see.
Please join me now – www.ndi.org/GivingTuesday – to support a groundbreaking new tool called “#think10,” which helps politically active women identify their personal and professional vulnerabilities so they can take informed steps to strengthen their safety. Your gift will help develop a text messaging (or SMS) version of the #think10 safety planning tool so that anyone with a cell phone can use the tool.
Liberal International's 70th Anniversary Congress, Andorra May 2017
A lot has been said and written about the #MeToo movement and how it continues to galvanize the voices of hundreds of women and men from around the world. Most strikingly, it is a strident call-to-arms for women to become the agents of their own conscience, bodies and destinies. The sweeping victory for female candidates from diverse backgrounds in the recent U.S. midterm elections is a clear signal that women are rightfully coming forward to claim their space and power in society.
“Who you gonna believe” – as the comics say – “me, or your lyin’ eyes?” When it comes to politics, cognitive bias has always given citizens a strong push to believe “their side,” whatever the evidence to the contrary suggests. As disinformation swamps the internet, the problem has become much worse with lyin’ evidence that’s all too easy to believe. Increasingly, information is forged or manipulated. Convincing but fake, this disinformation fuels hyper-partisan hatred, bolsters conspiracy theories and undermines critical democratic institutions. But identifying disinformation is only one piece of the puzzle. What we need is a way to stop forged information entirely; a way to prove that content is original and legitimate.
A woman participates in voter card reader test exercise in Nigeria. Credit: Sarah Cooper
In countries and communities around the world, defenders of democracy are working to understand and respond to the ways that technology is impacting political and electoral processes. With every election or political event, democracy’s defenders are capturing new lessons on how democracy can weather evolving threats and even thrive in the digital age. Despite this growing body of projects and the commitment of local actors in countries around the world, responses to evolving digital challenges to date often lack coordination. But both globally and regionally, key democracy stakeholders haven’t had a proper channel for information-sharing, research coordination, and advancing shared priorities at the intersection of tech and democracy. So we’re building one, as a community.