Programs such as LEND help fledgling democracies in the midst of transition.
Founded in 2000 by the United States and Poland, the Community of Democracies is a group of countries dedicated to supporting nations that are in the midst of democratic transitions. Over the years, the organization has expanded both in terms of its membership and its outreach to every region of the globe.
The Community has worked to build task forces staffed with experts to help transitioning democracies with task such as constitution writing. The LEND Network, which stands for Leaders Engaged in New Democracies Network, is such a resource.
LEND was started by reaching out to about 25 countries that had come through successful democratic transitions and identifying key leaders within these societies. These individuals included a former chief justice of South Africa’s Supreme Court who wrote that country’s constitution and the former head of the Chilean army who led the transition to civilian rule. About 35 former presidents and prime ministers joined this effort through a group known as Club de Madrid.
LEND then teamed up with Google and OpenText and other technology partners to build a platform that allows for real-time voice, video, and text communication with translation between leaders who had been through successful transitions in the past and key leaders in countries that were in the midst of transitions today.
This made it possible for leaders in Tunisia who were rewriting their constitution to be able to share their draft with experts all over the world who had experience in the topic under discussion. Immediate translation was available, which allowed for feedback in realtime about had and hadn’t worked in the course of prior democratic transitions. In effect, the Tunisians had access to world-class information and were able to develop a first-rate constitution.
Looking ahead, the Community of Democracies has already taken an active role in responding to the crisis in Ukraine by sending two assessment missions and is preparing further plans to support the development of strong institutions and the rule of law in Ukraine.
The United States is strongly committed to helping democratic transitions around the globe succeed. The Community of Democracies remains an important part of that effort.