Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

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

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Guest Post: Daniel Markey on Reorienting U.S.-Pakistan Strategy

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 5, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee). Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 5, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee).

Since 9/11, U.S. policymakers have tended to consider Pakistan in the context of the war in Afghanistan and the counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaeda. This year, however, U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan will end. In addition, the security threat posed by international terrorism is increasingly diffuse, with al-Qaeda and its affiliates seemingly less dependent on safe havens along the Af-Pak border than they were in the past. In this context, an “Af-Pak” framework for U.S. strategy is no longer wise. Read more »

Is Kuwait Ready for a Female Judge?

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
A policewoman guides a female voter at a polling center during the 2012 parliamentary elections in Jahra, Kuwait, February 2, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Stephanie McGehee). A policewoman guides a female voter at a polling center during the 2012 parliamentary elections in Jahra, Kuwait, February 2, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Stephanie McGehee).

This guest post is by Alessandra L. González, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Politics at Princeton University and author of Islamic Feminism in Kuwait: The Politics and Paradoxes. Here she discusses the likelihood of women becoming judges in Kuwait. Read more »

Guest Post: Daniel Markey on No Exit from Pakistan

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
An internally displaced girl at a UN refugee camp outside of Islamabad, Pakistan, May 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Faisal Mahmood). An internally displaced girl at a UN refugee camp outside of Islamabad, Pakistan, May 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Faisal Mahmood).

This guest post is from my colleague, Daniel Markey, a Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. Here he discusses his latest book: No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad. Read more »

Guest Post: Ed Husain on How to Counter Islamic Extremism

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
The "Tribute in Lights" illuminates the sky over lower Manhattan on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Jim Young). The "Tribute in Lights" illuminates the sky over lower Manhattan on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Jim Young).

This guest post is written by my colleague, Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR. Here he discusses his latest Policy Innovation Memorandum, which lays out a plan for countering violent extremism.  Read more »

Guest Post: Women in the Workforce in the Arab World

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
Students study in the laboratory at the Faculty of Science at the University of Misrata December 19, 2011 (Esam al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters). Students study in the laboratory at the Faculty of Science at the University of Misrata December 19, 2011 (Esam al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters).

Women in the Middle East stand to play a vital role in the region’s economic and political future, if given the opportunity. This week at the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank’s senior adviser to the chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa, Nadereh Chamlou, spoke about women’s economic empowerment in the Arab world. Today, my colleague Reza Aslan–author of books including No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations—writes about Chamlou’s remarks and the challenges to women’s participation in the workforce. Read more »

Guest Post: Entrepreneurs Innovating for Peace in Afghanistan

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
A general view of Kabul, Afghanistan, is seen during sunset, November 7, 2012 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters). A general view of Kabul, Afghanistan, is seen during sunset, November 7, 2012 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

This guest post is written by my colleague Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a fellow at CFR and deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program. She tells the story of several technology entrepreneurs who are defying the odds to build successful businesses in Afghanistan. As she writes, these entrepreneurs are not only seeking profits; they are also aiming to build a more peaceful and prosperous future for their country. A post by Tae Yoo of Cisco last week on CFR’s Development Channel also highlighted technology’s role in driving development in Afghanistan. Read more »

Meeting Salafists in Tunisia

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
Tunisian Salafists put on a martial arts display at the start of a rally in the central town of Kairouan, May 20, 2012 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters). Tunisian Salafists put on a martial arts display at the start of a rally in the central town of Kairouan, May 20, 2012 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters).

In this guest post, my colleague Ed Husain, senior fellow for Middle East Studies at CFR, writes about our discussion with Salafists in Tunisia during our visit there this week.
Read more »

Guest Post: Putin and Russia’s Electoral Hoops

by Isobel Coleman
Workers attach a pre-election poster featuring Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the southern city of Krasnodar, November 24, 2011 (Eduard Korniyenko/Courtesy Reuters). Workers attach a pre-election poster featuring Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the southern city of Krasnodar, November 24, 2011 (Eduard Korniyenko/Courtesy Reuters).

International election observation can be an effective way to expose electoral manipulation and encourage democratic reform. But observers’ reports can be used for good as well as ill, and determined governments can also simply ignore them. Judith Kelley, an associate professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, writes here about Vladimir Putin’s handling of election monitors in advance of Russia’s presidential election on Sunday. Kelley is the author of Monitoring Democracy: When International Election Observation Works, and Why it Often Fails, forthcoming this month from Princeton University Press, and she is also featured in this week’s Economist. Read more »

Guest Post: Liberia’s Emerging Entrepreneurs

by Isobel Coleman
A view of Benson Street in Monrovia, Liberia, October 13, 2011 (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters). A view of Benson Street in Monrovia, Liberia, October 13, 2011 (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters).

Liberia, once a byword for conflict and misery, has become an admired young democracy. Its development challenges, however, remain dire. Liberia ranks 182 out of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index; its index value is lower today than it was in 1980. The IMF puts GDP per capita at less than $300. According to a World Bank paper, 400,000 of Liberia’s 650,000 households live in poverty. Read more »

Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity

by Isobel Coleman

Last week, I sat down with Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, to discuss how her organization is focusing on closing the mobile phone gender gap. Cherie was later joined by Maura O’Neill, senior counselor to the administrator and chief innovation officer for USAID; and Trina DasGupta, director of the GSMA mWomen Programme in a meeting that we hosted as part of the CFR-ExxonMobil Women and Technology Roundtable Series. I’ve invited Cherie, Trina, and Maura to explain in a guest blog post how they are working together to implement the mWomen Programme to increase women’s access to cell phones. Read more »