In recent years, as leading authoritarian countries such as China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela have become emboldened within the global arena, challenging the liberal international political order, the advanced democracies have retreated rather than responding to this threat.
Although the leading authoritarian regimes are today integrated in many ways into the global system, they have not become more like the democracies; instead, they have been devising policies and practices aimed at blocking democracy’s advance.
Iran’s authoritarianism is more flexible and more durable than its detractors would hope, yet more fragile and endangered than its defenders claim.
The Iranian regime has sought to recast conventional principles of human rights and political participation by forging alliances with like-minded regimes and by broadcasting its narrative to an international audience.
- Excerpts from Ayman Nour's video message to the National Endowment for Democracy's November 18 conference, "Middle Eastern Democrats and Their Vision of the Future."
- Selections from Wang Lixiong's speech accepting the International Campaign for Tibet's Light of Truth Award. Wang Lixiong, a Chinese writer, coauthored a 12 March 2008 open letter to the Chinese authorities entitled "Twelve Suggestions for Handling the Tibetan Situation."
- Portions of Ladan Boroumand's speech accepting the Lech Walesa Prize, awarded by the Lech Walesa Insitute Foundation in Gdansk to three Iranian human-rights activists—Ladan and Roya Boroumand, the founders of the Abdorarahman Boroumand Foundation, and Shadi Sadr of the End Stoning Forever campaign.
- Selections from the "EU Agenda for Action"—the annex to the "Conclusions on Democracy Support in the EU's External Relations" adopted by the Council of the European Union on November 17.
When students and other rights activists decided to seize a tactical opening that the regime cynically offered them during the 2009 campaign, they were making a choice that was even more fateful than they knew.
The Islamic Republic is struggling, with the Revolutionary Guard Corps more and more the only thing propping it up.
Iran’s massive protest movement against June’s electoral coup is now moving into a new phase. What are its prospects?
Observers who focus too much on elections have failed to grasp the maturation of Iranian civil society, even as hard-liners have come to dominate the government.
They are good signs for the future of democracy in Iran, but it will take time and energy to organize these promising pieces into a greater democracy movement.