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Recent attempted transitions to democracy in the Arab world, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere have met severe headwinds. Can today’s leaders draw on lessons from successful experiences of democratization in previous decades to overcome transitional traps and other other failures of democracy? Drawing on a new book edited by Abraham Lowenthal, founding director of the Inter-American Dialogue, and Dialogue Senior Fellow Sergio Bitar, Democratic Transitions: Conversations with World Leaders (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015), this symposium will probe the findings of a set of in-depth interviews with leaders of successful democratic transitions. Special focus will be given to two current cases of pressing importance: Myanmar and Venezuela.

The event is co-sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Inter-American Dialogue. A reception, including sales of the featured book, will follow the event.


Sergio Bitar

Non-Resident Senior Fellow
Inter-American Dialogue

Priscilla Clapp

Senior Adviser
US Institute of Peace and the Asia Society Policy Institute

Carl Gershman

National Endowment for Democracy

Yves Leterme

Secretary General, IDEA
Former Prime Minister of Belgium

Abraham Lowenthal

Professor Emeritus of International Relations
University of Southern California

Moisés Naím

Distinguished Fellow
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Thomas Carothers

Vice President for Studies
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace