Issues in the Transition to Democracy: Reports of the Working Groups

The Rule of Law

John Norton Moore, Chair

Three major points emerged from the working session discussions. The first is the important new trend in the international arena toward acceptance of many obligations that go beyond basic human rights requirements to things that are very much part of democratic governance. These have been discussed internationally as “The Rule of Law,” which is very broadly conceived, and hence relevant to the workshop's discussion of democracy and assistance in democratic processes. For example, little noticed by the media, this summer the Copenhagen round of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) reached agreement on an extraordinary extension of human rights guarantees. These new guarantees, under the rubric of the rule of law, are really a series of fundamental principles of democratic governance. A logical next step in human rights engagement is now to look seriously at what governmental institutions are necessary to achieve those guarantees in the real world. At present there is a rather extraordinary consensus, with Western and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union all agreeing in essence to supplement the human rights guarantees with a basket of rule of law guarantees that may prove of great importance for transitions to democracy.

The second point is: “What is the core of this rule of law?” Moore acknowledged that every scholar will have a different list, but argued that most lists would include:

  1. The notion of constitutionalism--constitutions embody the fundamental compact with the people. They are the highest form of law, to which all other laws and governmental actions must conform, and they should be taken seriously.

  2. The general principle of accountability--governments should be democratically accountable to the people. Legislatures and chief executives should be popularly elected under a system that will ensure competing



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop Issues in the Transition to Democracy: Reports of the Working Groups The Rule of Law John Norton Moore, Chair Three major points emerged from the working session discussions. The first is the important new trend in the international arena toward acceptance of many obligations that go beyond basic human rights requirements to things that are very much part of democratic governance. These have been discussed internationally as “The Rule of Law,” which is very broadly conceived, and hence relevant to the workshop's discussion of democracy and assistance in democratic processes. For example, little noticed by the media, this summer the Copenhagen round of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) reached agreement on an extraordinary extension of human rights guarantees. These new guarantees, under the rubric of the rule of law, are really a series of fundamental principles of democratic governance. A logical next step in human rights engagement is now to look seriously at what governmental institutions are necessary to achieve those guarantees in the real world. At present there is a rather extraordinary consensus, with Western and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union all agreeing in essence to supplement the human rights guarantees with a basket of rule of law guarantees that may prove of great importance for transitions to democracy. The second point is: “What is the core of this rule of law?” Moore acknowledged that every scholar will have a different list, but argued that most lists would include: The notion of constitutionalism--constitutions embody the fundamental compact with the people. They are the highest form of law, to which all other laws and governmental actions must conform, and they should be taken seriously. The general principle of accountability--governments should be democratically accountable to the people. Legislatures and chief executives should be popularly elected under a system that will ensure competing

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop electoral tickets and frequent accountability on the part of government officials. Separation of powers and checks and balances--Americans take this for granted, yet there is great interest internationally in the concept of separation of powers and checks and balances, not solely among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, which is the core, but also through such notions as ombudsmen or bicameral legislatures. A series of human rights guarantees--minimum guarantees that cannot be altered even by a legislative majority. These would certainly include preserving a climate of free discussion and opinion, fairness in criminal process, protection of religious freedom, protection of civil rights, accountability of governmental officials, protection of the integrity of governmental processes, protection of the rights of workers, civilian control of the military, protection of the environment, and protection of economic freedom and entitlements. Finally, limited government and federalism--and as a separate point that takes different forms in different democratic societies, a strong judiciary. In the American experience, an independent judiciary is capable of acting as a check on the other branches with respect to fundamental constitutional concepts, the separation of powers, the rights of individuals, and the integrity of the overall electoral process. The third and final point is the core of the policy debate: To what extent should a government have an active program to share its experience in rule of law or democracy-building with other countries? Participants agreed that one should not simply crusade “to make the world safe for democracy,” and that there are a variety of naive programs that could be proposed in this area. One needs to be careful to avoid simple cultural imperialism and imposing dysfunctional structures in settings where they may not make sense. However, some also argued that there is a strong case for well thought out programs as a significant part of U.S. foreign policy to share on a voluntary basis the American experience in rule of law and constitutionalism. Criticisms that efforts at rule of law and democracy-building reflect peculiarly American values may in fact themselves be a form of disguised chauvinism. That is, in some cases they may not reflect accurately the extraordinary range of international support that exists for many of these principles. For example, the principle “of the people, by the people, and for the people” from the Gettysburg Address seems peculiarly American, but comparative constitutionalists know it is a fundamental principle, in exactly that language, of the French Constitution. The concept of property rights that Americans stress is a fundamental principle of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man. In short, there are fundamental principles of good governance that are internationally shared,

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop just as the international community has found a variety of broad common principles with respect to human rights. A second point in support of the same general conclusion is the extraordinary interest around the world in the American experience in rule of law and constitutionalism. Moore described his experiences in participating in the constitutional drafting process in Namibia, noting the strong interest in the American experience from virtually every faction involved. He concluded that if one regards this as technology transfer, it is striking that the United States should be willing to transfer agricultural or steel-making technology, yet at the same time be reluctant to share on a voluntary basis what it regards as the fundamentals that actually make its system function. Institutions and Processes for Debate, Consensus, and Conflict Management Michael Mezey, Chair The working group discussed national political institutions that in most countries symbolize commitment to democracy: legislatures and political parties. In discussing the functions of legislatures, the group addressed a traditional question in political science: how much power does a legislature need in order to be viewed as a true legislature? The particular question concerned budgetary power and whether it was necessary for legislatures to have the power to restrain the extractive power of the state and to restrain the capacity of the executive branch to tax and to spend money. Mezey argued that not all legislatures had such powers, and that such powers were not required to deem a legislature “real.” Other participants thought that legislatures needed to have exactly those sorts of powers. They agreed that U.S. strategies need to involve both strengthening legislatures, perhaps through activities such as support for training legislators and developing greater degrees of public policy expertise. The group discussed political parties and their particular role as a democratic institution in encouraging democracy. In particular, it discussed the functions of political parties, their role in representing the diverse interests in particular countries, in recruiting new elites to government power, in public education, and in legitimizing political decisions. Ideally, political parties embody the idea of collective responsibility for public policy, encourage processes of coalition-building, and reduce the incidence of political opportunism. The group observed that in many countries, strong political parties were the major institutional alternative to military domination. Such parties have the capacity to restrain military elites. This

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop raised a number of questions, such as weather it is appropriate for organizations such as A.I.D. to support political parties, and if so, what form such support should take. For example, programs might help parties develop basic skills--organizational development, candidate education, or issue research, or work more broadly to support the mechanisms that permit parties to develop. Some argued that supporting particular political parties raised a range of difficult, sensitive questions, whereas supporting a recognized governmental institution, such as a legislature, is an easier task. Participants also considered what types of political parties should be supported. Some political parties, narrowly based or highly ideological, reinforce internal divisions within the country and may make nation-building and democratization more, rather than less difficult. While it is reasonable to believe that supporting political parties can serve an integrative function by bringing people together and that broad-based parties may have a very positive influence, some argued that in many countries it is not clear that such party organizations exist, that they can exist, or how they can be supported. The group ended with the interesting question of supporting nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), such as interest groups. Some participants questioned whether this would be a wise strategy, suggesting that interest groups, to the extent that they encourage the articulation of narrow, parochial, specific interests, or make the aggregation of interest into public policy more difficult, may not be the best organizations to support. The group did not recommend that they be discouraged, but that resources might be better spent on creating institutions of what political scientists call “interest aggregation ” that can bring people together behind public policies. Mezey commented that he felt the current American political woes--rapacious interest groups, opportunist legislators, a Congress that seemed unable to make fundamental decisions about governing--influenced their discussion. He felt that this had a healthy impact on the group's discussions as it considered whether to recommend transplanting the American model or holding it up as a paradigm. The current state of American political problems encouraged greater openness to thinking about other nations' models.

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop Institutions and Processes of State Power: Police and Civil/Military Relations Louis Goodman, Chair Understanding how the military, police, and judicial systems function as institutions is critical for advancing democratic processes. This group consensus can be seen as a recommendation for A.I.D. or others to support research as well as direct program activities. The group endorsed Terry Karl's point about the need to have a civil/military pact to enable the process of democratization to continue. Goodman argued that there are numerous examples of explicit pacts forming the foundation for progress in democratic transitions, all of which had to do with relations between political society and the coercive element of the state, namely, the military. The group disagreed about mechanisms of how to continue this civil/military pact and keep the military in check. Some, including Goodman, thought that it would be useful to have training for civilians in oversight of the military, such as occurs in the American congressional system. Others argued strongly that this was inappropriate for many historical and cultural reasons, and that the United States should support development of a self-governing professional military, as now exists in Europe. Participants agreed, however, that the most appropriate role for the military in any country is to provide for external security. It is a serious mistake to look for nonexternal security roles into which the military can expand, such as the provision of education, building of roads, providing for public health, and public works. The group also concurred that it was important to reinforce the separate roles of other elements of state power, such as the police, which play a very different role than the military. The group discussed how to prevent the military from taking on inappropriate roles and from reassuming explicit or de facto control of government. Participants thought it was important to extend the basic pact to include discussion about how to reduce the size of military forces, and felt it was essential to consider how to move existing officers away from positions in which “they could think about inappropriate role expansion.” Participants agreed that it was important to encourage the military in its most appropriate role--preparing for future wars that one hopes will never be fought--and that it was useful to look for regional international security roles or other collective security arrangements that might duplicate Europe's success with NATO. Some participants suggested that an appropriate role for military officers would be to manage quasi-state organizations, since many officers have very impressive managerial skills. How to move officers into the

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop private sector, perhaps via a “golden parachute,” deserves more exploration. Goodman commented that there are many cases of military officers moving honestly and successfully and playing very important roles in the flowering of private sectors in developing nations. He argued that people tend to forget that some significant entrepreneurs once were military officers, and that their skills are often readily transferred. One way to convince the military to do this is to defeat them. Another is to buy them out, a time-honored process that has been used with many kinds of civil servants. The group also discussed the importance of the judicial system in its relationship to state power. Participants agreed that the judiciary cannot possibly operate effectively without a strong civil/military pact that permits the judiciary to exercise its functions. The group next discussed internal and external influences on civil/military relations and agreed that internal, domestic influences were generally more important. Goodman suggested that both internal and external influences might be necessary but may not be sufficient in particular circumstances. A very important point to remember for effective external influence is consistency. Some suggested this has been a problem with U.S. policy in the past. This means not just inconsistency over time, but instances in which the same host-country nationals received different, contradictory messages in the same year. While the group agreed that one should be very leery of the role of external influences, and be very humble about the potential impact that the United States might have, Goodman noted that external influences may, from time to time, play a critical role in tipping the balance. The policy dilemma for the United States is when it should and should not try to exercise that influence. The Relationship Between Approaches to Democracy and Economic Development Carol Lancaster, Chair; Taryn Rounds, Rapporteur The first issue addressed by the group was the definition of democracy. How should it be measured and operationalized? Among the measures suggested were an open and just society with a focus on rules and procedures, a culture of openness, and the elements of governance. The next question discussed was why A.I.D. should be concerned with democracy as opposed to continuing with its economic development programs. The group agreed that there were links between democracy and sustained economic development, and that although they are not necessary conditions for each other, they are reinforcing processes. Democracies tend to keep markets more honest, they are more fair and just, and there

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop are human rights reasons to support them. Moreover, as Jane Mansbridge has pointed out, democracies seem to be involved in less war, fighting, and aggression with each other. One important point was that although democracy and economic development might complement each other in the long run, during a transition there could be severe short-term conflicts between them. For example, economic stabilization and structural adjustment tend to be very painful. In a democracy, there is more likely to be resistance, and it may be more difficult for the government to cope with the opposition and carry out its policies. The group addressed how to support democracy, and whether there are trade-offs between economic development programs and ways to promote democracy. Participants generally agreed that there are not necessarily trade-offs between trying to do both. Participants also recognized that A.I.D. is an external influence, with real limits on what it can do to promote democracy. Moreover, democracy is not the only American objective, but one of many, and economic development will remain first and foremost in what A.I.D. is trying to do. The group discussed promoting democracy by supporting intermediary groups, particularly indigenous nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but was sensitive to the need to distinguish among such organizations as candidates for American assistance. Support for the growth of procedural rules, constitution-building, and specific democratic initiatives was another option. This can be difficult, because it requires host-country support, which those currently in power might be reluctant to give. The group also agreed that A.I.D. could promote democracy through its ongoing programs by focusing on specific democratic objectives. One participant cited education programs that empower people and have a positive impact on both promoting democracy and the economy. The group agreed that the United States could try to distribute funding based on formal criteria of a country's movement toward democracy. Again, however, participants questioned how A.I.D. would measure democracy, and how this objective squares with others. Another suggestion was to support policies and programs to improve equity--even though it may entail economic trade-offs--because it could promote a more stable democracy. Finally, the group agreed that any actions by A.I.D. must be situation-specific. For example, in Eastern Europe political reform is already underway and the urgent need is for help with economic development. Other countries, such as Chile or Korea, are going through economic reform, but political reform has been slow to follow. On a final note, the group agreed that it is not a question of whether there is a relationship between economic development and democracy, or if the United States should promote democracy, but how and how not to accomplish that goal.

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop Market-Oriented Economic Reforms and Democracy Joan Nelson, Chair The group began with the premise that although in the long-run there may be strong complementary relationships between political pluralism and market-oriented economies, the process of moving from statist to market-oriented economies, and from more authoritarian to more open political systems, creates the potential for significant conflict between these two processes if they are occurring simultaneously. Overall, the discussion covered two broad sets of ideas. The first concerned the potential and the limits of market-oriented reform for promoting democratic development. In many countries, the development community in general, including the United States and A.I.D., are pushing market-oriented reforms. The group discussed some of the mechanisms linking market-oriented reforms to the process of opening up political systems. Moving from a situation where governments monopolize or heavily dominate jobs, contracts, and production in a great many areas to a more diffuse pattern breaks the link between livelihood or economic security and support for the current political regime. This also opens up the possibility of financing both for autonomous interest groups and for opposition political parties. It may also shift the emphasis of interest group activities from trying to look for special favors from bureaucrats to engaging in a more open public dialogue directed at altering policy. This shift also changes the nature and the extent of corruption in societies. A great deal of corruption in many developing countries is linked to the pervasiveness of government controls over, and political/bureaucratic manipulation of, resource allocation. Nelson commented that it had occurred to her later that reducing the level and pervasiveness of corruption also has a great deal to do with increasing the legitimacy of government. This particular set of mechanisms that link market-oriented reforms to promoting democracy has some clear limits. Participants noted that the groups that are most likely to benefit from market-oriented reforms are those that are better-off--in general, the elites, semi-elites, and at best the middle class. Economic benefits are not equally shared and that clearly has political implications for democracy. The group explored whether the particular design and pattern of fiscal reforms have implications for democratic openings. That is, under the broad umbrella of market-oriented reforms and of measures needed to stabilize economies that have been suffering from inflation and from persistent and very severe budget and balance of payments gaps, the precise design may make a big difference in terms of repercussions for democratic development. One can start with the goal of economic reform

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop and economic stabilization, but still refine the means to try to take into account implications for democratic development. Charles Tilly, in an earlier discussion, put forward the proposition that means of raising revenue that are “transparent”--where citizens see very clearly what they are paying and to whom, such as income tax--are likely to create situations where governments must bargain with the people represented through parties, through interest groups, or in legislatures. This led the group to the proposition that the measures that are perhaps economically most effective or administratively easiest for solving particular economic problems may not be those that are most conducive to democratic development. That thought seemed particularly important in light of the fact that many transitional governments tend to be weak. Hence, in weighing these various objectives, one must often take into account the weakness of government, rather than its strength. The group's second set of issues dealt with the ways in which the simultaneous efforts to consolidate democratic transitions and move toward more market-oriented economies may conflict. Nelson made the personal observation that she sensed a real questioning of the notion that political opening almost always leads to economic opening. Rather, she felt the group discussed a number of ways in which democratization might pose obstacles to promoting market-oriented reforms. For example, the point was made in the summary of Carol Lancaster's session that market-oriented reforms, as well as macroeconomic austerity measures, create hardship for many groups that can be threatening to fragile governments. Another type of conflict arises from the fact that market-oriented reforms often have or appear to have the effect of undermining equity or equality. This is clear in Eastern Europe, where one of the major political obstacles to going ahead with some market-oriented reforms is the inequalities and insecurities that would be created. But the same kinds of concerns are also true in many other parts of the world where, for example, removing subsidies on basic commodities, or price controls more generally, are viewed by some parts of the population as threatening equality. A third kind of conflict concerns the process of consolidating democratic openings, particularly decentralizing power. Nelson offered one of the conclusions from research that she and a group of colleagues have been doing on the politics of adjustment: virtually all effective economic reorientation and adjustment programs in the 1980s entailed a high degree of executive centralization and a rather autocratic style of decision-making. That was true even in the several democracies that have carried out considerable market-oriented reforms. There may thus be a tension between the short-run political requirements for certain kinds of economic reform and pressures for decentralization as part of the democratization process.

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop The group's discussion underscored the need for not comfortably assuming that all good things go together, for looking closely at interactions, including potential conflicts between democratization and market-oriented reform. Such an examination could have implications for A.I.D. programs and also for broader U.S. policy with respect to issues such as debt, trade, and other aspects of foreign economic policy. Intermediary Institutions That Operate Between the Citizen and the State: Unions, Associations, Interest Groups, Business Organizations, Political Parties Michael Bratton, Chair The group discussed the range of institutions that operate between the state and its citizens, in the realm that has come to be known in this workshop as “civil society.” The first point to make is that civil society is a contested territory, with a number of competing visions of what civil society can be like. One is the corporatist vision, in which the state gives structure to the representation of interests. Another is a pluralist vision, in which a diverse body of citizens express their interests. And although never explicitly stated, the discussion revealed that there was also a communalist vision of civil society, in which basic social solidarities structure organization and affiliations. For example, the group discussed the influence of clans and patron-client networks in organizing the way that people come together and associate. Bratton suggested that a debate was emerging in the workshop between the ideas best represented by Philippe Schmitter and John Norton Moore. Schmitter offered a sort of culturally relative view of civil society and democratic processes, while John Norton Moore advocated a universalist perspective that cuts across different cultural conceptions. Participants were ambivalent about the two arguments. On the one hand, the group discussion reflected a belief that a plural civil society, one based on individual self-interest and cross-cutting ties, is most likely to contribute to a democratic transition. This included associations that display certain key characteristics: open, voluntary membership; a membership base that cuts across existing social cleavages; the election of leaders within associations; deliberation about group action; universalist, rather than self-serving goals, such as human rights as opposed to a particular economic interest; and a sustainable institutional structure, especially at the local level, but also possibly federated up to the national level. The group's general discussion was within the framework of the pluralist model. On the other hand, the group also discussed the paradox of pluralism:

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop that in fact pluralism, under certain social and economic conditions, can be a threat to democracy. Embedded in the promise of pluralism is also the threat of particularism. Pluralism promotes contestation; democratic processes thrive on contestation, but where states are weak, and where societies are divided, pluralism can be a force for political instability, rather than for political development. Particularly in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, the big question is “Can the center hold?” The working group members did not agree about whether intermediary associations should undertake political advocacy. One view was that there is a natural progression from the articulation of particular economic interests by a group through policy advocacy in that particular economic sector, to broader concerns with governance for the political unit as a whole. Another view stressed that horizontal linkages among organizations within civil society were more important than vertical linkages between local associations and national policy. These could be people-to-people linkages at the grass roots level, or linkages between citizens and intellectuals, for example through promoting independent policy analysis centers. Some participants expressed concern that if associations became active in policy advocacy, the middle classes would benefit first since the wealthiest are the most likely to organize. The mass of people would be excluded yet again. Some participants also argued that intermediary organizations should be considered primarily as alternative mechanisms for service delivery, rather than as agencies for political advocacy. There was agreement, however, that intermediary organizations are the building blocks of political parties. Some suggested that it may be better to encourage political parties to undertake the advocacy role, echoing Michael Mezey's earlier argument that it may be more conducive to democratic stability to have aggregate policy platforms, rather than a cacophony of special demands. Finally, the group discussed the appropriate role for A.I.D. in relating to intermediary associations. Participants considered both the policy level and the project level. At the policy level, the point was made that A.I.D.'s strength is really in government-to-government relations, rather that government-to-NGO relations and that there was room for A.I.D. to broaden the policy dialogue with recipient governments to include more explicitly the question of strengthening the environment for civil society. Issues that might be raised in government-to-government negotiations include: the enforcement of existing constitutional guarantees, particularly the freedom of association; the simplification of registration and reporting procedures for various types of association, whether they are cooperatives, welfare societies, or nonprofit companies; and the creation of tax incentives, for example to encourage corporate and individual giving to associations.

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop At the project level, participants put forward a number of suggestions. One participant suggested that public opinion polling was a relevant activity since polling gives an independent voice to an otherwise silent public and has the added advantage of strengthening local research institutions. Others argued that pre-election polling in the third world has turned out to be notoriously inaccurate, citing Chile and Nicaragua as recent examples. Moreover, intermittent polling cannot substitute for permanent associations that can speak for themselves over the long run and between elections. Participants also expressed interest in subnational political units, both governmental and nongovernmental. Some of the discussion revolved around whether support to improve the administrative capabilities of municipal councils might be appropriate. Participants agreed that A.I.D.'s best approach to intermediary organizations was to continue working with U.S. private voluntary organizations (PVOs). Some suggested more exchanges and grants made in the cultural area, for example in promoting sports and artistic endeavors. Associations need not be explicitly political to accomplish a contribution to the transition to democracy. The mere existence of associations populates and pluralizes the institutional environment. They provide citizens with a choice in selecting where to affiliate themselves, and choice, the participants felt, was at the essence of democracy. Special Problems of Divided Societies Eric Nordlinger, Chair; Jo Husbands, Rapporteur The group limited its discussion to a particular type of divided society: those countries in which political participation and political contests tend to take place along ethnic, religious, cultural, or racial lines. The group considered only those societies in which the different competing groups were actually participating, in contrast to societies in which some groups are completely outside the political process, such as the Indians in Guatemala. The distinction was important because it meant the group started out with bad news. If one looks at the approximately two dozen transitions to democracy that have been attempted or completed since the mid-1970s, at most only one quarter of those have been deeply divided societies. By and large, deeply divided societies have been left out of the recent wave of democratization. Trying to understand what it might take to foster democratization in divided societies led the group to discuss a number of issues and problems. One problem was a genuine dispute about the importance of cross-cutting cleavages. A participant offered the widely accepted idea that it is better if people have a variety of identities, so that no single identification

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop dominates. Someone countered, based on research by Donald Horowitz and others, that there is strong evidence that it is extraordinarily difficult to break ethnic identification as the primary and most powerful identi and others, that there is strong evidence that it is extraordinarily difficult to break ethnic identification as the primary and most powerful identification. Promoting cross-cutting cleavages as the basis for eventual democratization may be thus much easier in theory than in practice. What would it take to create other kinds of identities that could mediate or mitigate the primary identification of tribe, race, religion, or language group? The group spent considerable time talking about divided societies that have been relatively successful in moving toward democracy. All of these transitions have involved ways of sharing power among the major social groups. This emphasizes the importance of creating structures to provide “rules of the game” for divisions of power. These arrangements have taken a variety of forms; in Nigeria after the civil war, for example, the new federal structure deliberately tried to create balances of power among the groups. Whatever the formal arrangements, some cautioned that what may matter most is various groups' perceptions of their power relative to one another. The group's final set of arguments concerned whether it is possible to create these power-sharing arrangements in anything but a “top-down” manner. That is, was one necessarily talking about elite bargains? Some participants argued that one could see negative roles for individuals--communal strife, violence--but that without effective organization, it was difficult to envision individuals playing a positive role in moving toward political arrangements or bargains at the social or political level that would allow representation and ease ethnic strife. The idea that the only hope might be to strike bargains at the elite level was not a comfortable notion for some people in the group. Participants agreed about the need to explore what, if any, kinds of bottom-up mechanisms and inclusive policies would best serve the interests of fostering democratic processes in these kinds of societies. Where to Start in Promoting Democracy: The Relationship Between “Top-Down” and “Bottom-Up” Development Strategies and the Role of Traditional Cultures Pearl Robinson, Chair The group began by offering a new analogy to add to the “skyscraper” and “weather” models proposed by Charles Tilly--creating a green belt in the desert. This process would begin by stabilizing the sand dunes, planting scrub brush as a first step in creating an environment that can

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop sustain larger species of plants. Next would come bushes and small trees, then larger trees, and eventually forests could be created. In the process, climate changes increase the humidity and truly begin to create a forest environment where there once was a desert. Robinson suggested that one ought to look at the process of democratization as one that requires the creation of an environment that can sustain different kinds of institutional behavior. A major question for the group was whether A.I.D. has a comparative advantage in trying to involve itself in bottom-up approaches to democratization. Some people suggested that A.I.D. was not very good at “retailing” its services, and that the agency has been in the process of shifting from project aid to program assistance. If that is the case, bottom-up approaches would be better left to other agencies. That led to another question: Since democratization is a new initiative, is A.I.D. compelled to do business as usual? If not, serious consideration should be given to the management implications of bottom-up approaches. The group decided that successful democratization would require a mix of bottom-up and top-down approaches. Participants agreed that it was more useful to think about multiple points of entry for the initiative. Work might be needed to support grass roots organizations, but at the same time, one should address basic policy issues such as the administration of justice, access to the market, and what could be done to create an appropriate legal framework that enables grass roots groups like water-users associations to survive and function more effectively. Participants agreed on the need to broaden the understanding of the roles and functions of NGOs in societies with which A.I.D. is concerned. Historically, A.I.D. has tended to see PVOs as a service delivery system to meet economic needs, but in the context of civil society NGOs have a crucial role in democratization. Here the group drew a distinction between U.S. NGOs, which are usually called PVOs and indigenous nongovernmental organizations that are involved in development work, as well as other areas such as human rights and “know-your-rights ” legal work that are relevant to democratization initiatives. Participants agreed on the importance of not assuming all NGOs are equally worthy of support and on the need to examine internal decision-making structures and what these organizations are doing that may be relevant to democratization. The group talked specifically about the crucial role that religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church in Latin America, can play in the process of democratization. Islam, on the other hand, tends to have a bad or antidemocratic name in the American press, since people tend to focus on Islamic fundamentalism. Robinson argued that in many societies Islam is playing or can potentially play an important role in fostering democracy. She cited the example of Elma Gali from northern Nigeria,

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop a Muslim scholar and teacher who settled in Kano in 1492. He wrote a treatise on how a good Muslim ruler should govern, titled “The Crown of Religion and the Obligations of Princes,” that includes discussions of the leader's obligation not to separate himself from the people. In northern Nigeria, this treatise became very important in the creation of political parties, in efforts to get the right to vote for women, and even in convincing the government that it should encourage education for young women. In Niger, when the military government decided to start promoting Islam, it had scholars translate this document from Arabic and encouraged discussions in universities and in Islamic associations. It became a basis for evaluating the performance of the military government in a language that the military government itself had sanctioned. Islamic organizations thus can also be a vehicle for promoting values that support democratization. The group briefly discussed education in terms of bottom-up strategies. Certain types of educational programs are more likely than others to support democracy, for example, creating elites who will be able to function in the new institutions. Literacy programs, frequently in indigenous languages, give people at the bottom level skills and tools that allow them to communicate politically and in such ways that may contribute to supporting democracy. This discussion led to the issue of ownership: “Whose democratization is it?” If A.I.D. adopts a democratization agenda, what are the incentives it can offer to persuade the leaders of a country to support it? As with economic reform, democratization may mean that the leaders lose their jobs. Again, the group agreed that one needs to think in terms of points of entry, of where to build some sense of ownership of the initiative within the country. Without that, its life span will be that of A.I.D.'s initiative. Some participants commented that opting for a bottom-up approach to develop a sense of ownership might restrict A.I.D.'s points of intervention. In the NGO community, a series of north/south dialogues is currently under-way between American and European NGOs on the one hand and southern countries ' PVOs on the other. In these dialogues, pacts are being negotiated about the nature of the relationship between northern and southern NGOs. Some pacts include stipulations that aid to southern PVOs should not come with political strings attached. For example, in Latin America many NGOs want nothing to do with political parties. The results of these negotiations may put significant constraints on a bottom-up approach to democratization. Participants favored linking aid to certain political conditions, so that if the country violates those conditions, aid is cut off. There was concern that political conditionality might undermine any potential for the success of a democratization initiative. If the United States is defining the

OCR for page 41
THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop conditions, then it becomes very difficult for the country to feel ownership of the democratization. The United States also becomes open up to accusations of cultural imperialism. Moreover, if a country fails to meet the stipulated conditions, and aid is cut off, it is not clear that democratic outcomes can be anticipated. Participants finally agreed that the goal of criteria that must be met is important, but U.S. policy makers must address the question, “How do you create the desired effect with different mechanisms?” Several other suggestions emerged, such as relying on U.S. citizen lobbies to push for aid cut-offs to countries that have been involved in especially egregious abuses. Another suggestion was the importance of supporting a proliferation of human rights monitoring groups within countries so that one has internal groups working in tandem with external groups such as Amnesty International. Overall, some suggested the best goal would be an external/internal “pincer” movement for dealing with political conditionality, rather than an Agency check list. The group debated the advisability of capitalizing on traditional institutions as a way of promoting democratization. There were very strong objections or at least reservations raised that these institutions may be operating with values that are antithetical to the ones that the United States would like to promote. Others cautioned that, as Americans and Westerners, outsiders sometimes look at traditional institutions and miss the implications of what is occurring for social transformations. Robinson endorsed Jane Mansbridge's call for comparative field research on deliberative democracy to attempt to document, in a number of societies, how people resolve conflict. What institutions do they have, what are they doing? A better understanding of these sorts of institutions and mechanisms could provide a sense of how bottom-up, indigenous institutions can link up with this initiative and begin to lay the scrub brush for democratization.