Introduction From A.I.D. Officials

Antonio Gayoso

Agency Director, Directorate for Human Resources, Bureau for Science and Technology

Gayoso welcomed the group and commented that, for him, the reasons for this workshop were as simple as they were complex. Simple, because we are not questioning whether democracy, as a form of government, is desirable; it is accepted that it is. Complex, because the concept of democracy is not monolithic; rather, it responds in many ways to the needs and desires of the people, if freely expressible. Political and economic freedom go hand in hand; political and economic development are inseparable. Both are essential for broad-based social and economic progress, for just as prosperity without democracy will almost certainly be inequitable, democracy without prosperity will almost never be sustained.

The last 5 years has brought an extraordinary series of events. In many countries, ranging from Latin America to Eastern Europe, from Africa to Asia, the will of the people, expressed in different ways, has resulted in many countries moving toward more open and participatory political and economic systems. These events reemphasize the fact that the birth of democracy can only be the result of decisions and actions taken by the people themselves.

There have been similar, although less dramatic swings in the past. We have learned the hard way, he argued, that democracy, particularly when young and new, can be very fragile and perishable as it emerges from dictatorship, tyranny, or chaos. Democracies are not only difficult to build, but also difficult to maintain. The long-term sustainability of the new experiments remains uncertain. Gayoso suggested that there is still much to learn about how transitions to democracy can best be facilitated: about how underlying social, political, and economic institutions should be nurtured; about how economic growth and political development are intertwined; about which outside interventions will be most effective; and about what approaches to democratization are most appropriate for which settings and in which order.

The workshop is concerned with the role A.I.D. can play in facilitating



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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop Introduction From A.I.D. Officials Antonio Gayoso Agency Director, Directorate for Human Resources, Bureau for Science and Technology Gayoso welcomed the group and commented that, for him, the reasons for this workshop were as simple as they were complex. Simple, because we are not questioning whether democracy, as a form of government, is desirable; it is accepted that it is. Complex, because the concept of democracy is not monolithic; rather, it responds in many ways to the needs and desires of the people, if freely expressible. Political and economic freedom go hand in hand; political and economic development are inseparable. Both are essential for broad-based social and economic progress, for just as prosperity without democracy will almost certainly be inequitable, democracy without prosperity will almost never be sustained. The last 5 years has brought an extraordinary series of events. In many countries, ranging from Latin America to Eastern Europe, from Africa to Asia, the will of the people, expressed in different ways, has resulted in many countries moving toward more open and participatory political and economic systems. These events reemphasize the fact that the birth of democracy can only be the result of decisions and actions taken by the people themselves. There have been similar, although less dramatic swings in the past. We have learned the hard way, he argued, that democracy, particularly when young and new, can be very fragile and perishable as it emerges from dictatorship, tyranny, or chaos. Democracies are not only difficult to build, but also difficult to maintain. The long-term sustainability of the new experiments remains uncertain. Gayoso suggested that there is still much to learn about how transitions to democracy can best be facilitated: about how underlying social, political, and economic institutions should be nurtured; about how economic growth and political development are intertwined; about which outside interventions will be most effective; and about what approaches to democratization are most appropriate for which settings and in which order. The workshop is concerned with the role A.I.D. can play in facilitating

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop democratization. Many believe that, as a foreign assistance agency, A.I.D. needs to operate within an agreed-upon basic conceptual framework of democracy that clearly identifies long term and systemic objectives for our efforts in democratization. Individual interventions in an appropriate sequence, consistent with that framework, can then be formulated. In every country and every region of the world A.I.D. faces unique and difficult challenges. In Latin America and the Caribbean, despite much progress, some countries remain intractably authoritarian. And, even in settings of almost unimagined success, the transition to democracy remains poorly linked to economic progress, as recent news stories on Nicaragua and Panama attest. In Asia--the scene of most rapid economic growth--promising beginnings are evident, even in such countries as Cambodia and Vietnam. But political progress also remains uneven, reverses remain common, and traditions of political freedom remain thin. In Africa, on the other hand, political freedoms remain largely nonexistent, but opportunities and the willingness to take political risks are growing. However, Africa also encompasses some of the world's most intractable problems of poverty, tribalism, warfare, and state-dominated economic collapse. The workshop will not--and cannot--try to solve all of the specific problems A.I.D. will encounter around the world. It will not define standard solutions. It will be helpful if the workshop is able to highlight the values, inherent in our society, that we are projecting; if it can identify those precepts that are simply not negotiable as A.I.D. deals with other countries, such as respect for human rights; if the workshop can define the broad objectives A.I.D.'s program seeks; and if it can build recognition that success and stability in this area are mostly a long-term proposition. Richard Bissell Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Science and Technology The Assistant Administrator began by commenting on the importance of remembering the immense diversity of the American experience with democracy, from New England town meetings to statewide referenda in California. This matters because it means we have more than a single American model to offer the world, and because we inevitably bring our own varied experiences and biases to this enterprise. Bissell noted the immense changes that have taken place in the world over the past ten years. When President Reagan spoke about the importance of encouraging democracy at Westminster in 1982, many wondered why the president was taking the time to mention such a hopeless cause. By the end of the decade, the spread of democracy had captured the world's imagination. He commented that “democracy” includes many

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop things--processes, people, institutions--and requires insights from many disciplines--economics, psychology, political science, and sociology. In trying to support democratic development, one must remember that many of our goals, such as effective governance, will only be created over the long term; getting elected is the easy part. Promoting democracy will be a central part of U.S. foreign policy for many years. Bissell commented that he could not imagine a foreign assistance act without programs to support democracy. The challenge now is to give meaning to “democracy,” to find a definition that is inclusive--certainly more inclusive than it has been in the past--yet discrete enough to build programs around. Bissell then introduced a video with greetings and introductory remarks from the A.I.D. Administrator. Ronald W. Roskens Administrator I can't think of anything more timely than the gathering of this distinguished group of scholars and practitioners to reflect on some of the most significant changes in and challenges for development since the avalanche of African independence in the 1960s. I regret not being with you. It is perhaps ironic that the reason I cannot join you is a trip to review our programs in Eastern Europe. The democratic torrent of the past 2 years--from the dramatic demolition of the Berlin Wall to the grass roots construction of constitutional government in Nicaragua--has produced changes that are startling and profound. What President Bush has called the “new wind” of democracy both feeds our hopes for the future and presents us with Herculean challenges. I know many of you have worked in depth on the issues that confront us. Your work, together with that of the U.S. government, has been an important part of the changes occurring around the globe. Now our search for understanding impels us to ask what America can do to further the process of democratization in the emerging democracies. Certain investments, we know, produce results. Tens of thousands of people from developing countries have been trained in this country--hundreds of thousands, if we count privately supported students. We have invested heavily and continue to invest in literacy programs and in education at all levels in developing countries--primary education and education for women and girls being a particular challenge today. We have worked assiduously with the volunteer sector to increase participation at the grass roots level in both rural and urban settings. We have strengthened legislative systems and local judiciary bodies. And, at last count, the Agency has sponsored 137 projects that have, in one way or

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop another, addressed the cause of justice, the rule of law, and the institutions of democracy. Beyond these programmatic accomplishments, we must explore the underlying precepts of democracy, to understand its fundamentals, to examine how it evolves. It is critical to grapple with the question of where to start in initiating or strengthening the democratic process. It is important to know the significance of working in countries at different stages of economic and political development. And we know that democracy is not without its threats. I am pleased to see that you are resolved to identify these threats and how to avoid or confront them. In closing, I congratulate the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and the National Research Council for assembling such a distinguished group of experts. I also want to offer an observation and a commitment. First, the observation: During the 1990s, the United States Agency for International Development will be involved in a broad array of democracy-building programs. I believe we have a responsibility to the democracy-seekers around the globe to base our efforts and programs on sound, rigorous research into the critical issues and questions with which you will grapple in this workshop. And, the commitment: I promise you that the findings of this workshop will be widely disseminated within A.I.D. and will be an important part of our effort to support democratic process--a process I intend to pursue with vigor. I wish you success in your important deliberations and thank you for your willingness to participate.