Professor Ethan Kapstein spoke candidly on the topic of "Young Democracies in Southeast Asia" on January 17 2008.
He stressed that the recent backlash against democracy in such countries as Thailand, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Georgia poses renewed concerns about the viability of this regime type in the developing world. This talk explored the underlying reasons for backsliding and reversal in the world’s fledgling democracies, and offered some proposals with respect to what the international community might do to help these states stay on track toward political stability.
In particular, public officials in both the industrial and developing worlds would wish to adopt the policy mix (including foreign aid policies) that is best suited to democratic consolidation, with a focus on ensuring that government leaders, who might otherwise abuse their power, are constrained by effective checks and balances. Understanding the underlying reasons for democratic failure is essential if we are to offer policy recommendations that have any hope of making a difference on the ground.
Ethan B. Kapstein is Paul Dubrule Professor of Sustainable Development at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France; Research Fellow at the French Institute for International Relations; a Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States; and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. He has also served as Vice President and Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Principal Administrator at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, and Executive Director of the Economics and National Security Program at Harvard University.
A specialist in international economic relations, he is the author or editor of nine books and has published widely in professional and policy journals.