International authors conference:Promoting and Protecting Democracy in Times of De-Democratization

Logo: Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation


Ort / Datum
Bonn, 16.11.2023 bis 17.11.2023


University of Würzburg, IDOS, Open University

Since the 1990s, external democracy promotion and protection has become a prominent tool of bi- and multilateral donors, as well as international and civil society organizations to promote and protect democracy in aid-recipient countries. However, democracy itself as well as promoters and supporters of democracy are challenged by a reversal of global trends: After decades of democratization, de-democratization is underway worldwide. While the primary role of democracy promotion has so far been to facilitate democratization processes that were already ongoing, democracy promoters are now faced with the challenge of counteracting the opposite trend and protecting and defending democracy. Despite a rich literature on democracy promotion, we know very little about how recent trends affect democracy promotion.

The international conference advanced the academic debate on the policy of external democracy promotion and protection in times of de-democratization. It analysed how donors adapt their practices in the light of democratic backsliding, a process that currently takes place in donor and beneficiary countries alike, and what drives the adaption (or the lack thereof). The conference brought together a highly distinguished group of scholars with diverse academic backgrounds from universities and research institutions located in four different continents, including perspectives from the global south. 

Conference funding by the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung, the Research Network External Democracy Promotion and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is gratefully acknowledged. Conference results are planned to be published in a journal special issue in 2024.

The conference was organized by Sonja Grimm (Universität Würzburg), Karina Mross, IDOS Bonn, und Brigitte Weiffen, Open University, UK.

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