Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

CFR Backgrounders

by Isobel Coleman Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Civilian children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 10, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer). Civilian children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 10, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer).

The Council on Foreign Relations recently revamped its backgrounder portal, which offers useful insights on today’s most pressing international issues, including unrest in Iraqtensions in the South China Seacrisis in Ukraine, and Islamic fundamentalism in Nigeria. Given what is going on in the world today, here are three I find particularly relevant: Read more »

Democracy Can Still Deliver

by Isobel Coleman Friday, June 6, 2014
A voter waits to cast his ballot in Bekkersdal, near Johannesburg, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) A voter waits to cast his ballot in Bekkersdal, near Johannesburg, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Democracy is going through a rough patch. Freedom House reports that the number of democracies around the world has retreated in recent years. The frightening turbulence in countries struggling to transition to democracy such as Egypt and Thailand makes clear how difficult that process is. And with economic malaise persisting in many democracies while growth still surges in autocratic China, more than a few people wonder whether it’s even worth bothering with democracy and all its political dysfunctions. Can democracies effectively meet the aspirations of citizens in today’s complex world? Read more »