Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law

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The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law bridges the worlds of scholarship, policy and practice to understand and advance the conditions for just, democratic, and sustainable development around the world.

Overwriting History: Future Of Global Governance & Net States

Overwriting History: Future Of Global Governance & Net States

CDDRL Mosbacher Director Francis Fukuyama addressing The World Governance Summit, Dubai 2018

Who We Are

The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University is an interdisciplinary center for research on development in all of its dimensions:  political, economic, social, and legal, and the ways in which these different dimensions interact with one another. We seek to understand how countries can overcome poverty, instability, and abusive rule to become prosperous, just, democratic, and well-governed societies.  We also want to analyze the ways in which democracy and development can be threatened by the authoritarian resurgence, technology, populism, and the broader process of globalization. 



Featured Past Events

Flyer for event January 6th and the Crisis of American Democracy

January 6th and the Crisis of American Democracy

Flyer for the Historic 2020 Elections event featuring Bruce Cain, Hakeem Jefferson, Didi Kuo, and Nathaniel Persily.

The Historic 2020 Elections

CDDRL Winter 2021 Research Seminar Schedule

CDDRL Weekly Seminar Series

Dr. Carson photo

Welcoming Dr. Clayborne Carson

CDDRL is excited to welcome Dr. Clayborne Carson to the Center

Colonade at the entrance to Encina Hall, Stanford University.

Statement from CDDRL Leadership on the Events of Jan. 6

The leadership of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law would like to express its horror and dismay at the violent attack on Congress that occurred on January 6, as well as the effort by certain members of Congress to overturn the free and fair election that took place on Nov. 3.
Encina Hall

CDDRL Statement on Building Racially Inclusive Democracies

The Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law joins other university centers at Stanford in condemning the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee, and expressing our outrage at police violence towards demonstrators around the country. Such statements of solidarity, however, are not enough. It is incumbent on institutions here at Stanford and around the United States to reflect on the force of racism in American life and to ask hard questions about their role...

    Research in CDDRL
  • Research in CDDRL
  • American Democracy in Comparative Perspective
  • Arab Reform and Democracy
  • Global Infrastructure Policy Research Initiative
  • Global Populisms
  • Governance
  • Poverty, Violence and Governance Lab
  • Turkey
  • The World House Project

Research in CDDRL

CDDRL is home to a dynamic interdisciplinary research community of innovative and distinguished faculty members and scholars from around the world. The Center's research agenda is comprised of five core programs that explore some of the most intractable problems and most exciting innovations in the study of development and democracy. Their work spans the globe and bridges the divide between academic research and policy analysis, forging partnerships not only with other research centers but also with international development agencies, governments and civil society organizations in numerous countries.

American Democracy in Comparative Perspective

The Program on American Democracy seeks to understand problems such as ineffective governance, gridlock and polarization, and declining trust in institutions in the United States in comparative perspective, with particular attention to the structure and functioning of other established democracies.

Arab Reform and Democracy

The Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University examines the different social and political dynamics within Arab countries and the evolution of their political systems, focusing on the prospects, conditions and possible pathways for democratic reform in the region.

Global Infrastructure Policy Research Initiative

The Global Infrastructure Policy Research Initiative is a new research program at CDDRL headed by Michael Bennon. The Program will conduct research on policies to promote infrastructure development around the world, and how they interact with global democracy and politics, paying special attention to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as both an engine of development and an instrument for the projection of Chinese influence globally.

Global Populisms

Global Populisms project examines the global surge in populist movements and what it means for established democratic rules and institutions.


The Governance Project seeks to better conceptualize and measure governance. Initially, we are trying to understand how it functions in two societies ­­— the Peoples Republic of China and the United States but also expanding to additional countries. Led by FSI senior fellow and Mosbacher Director of CDDRL Francis Fukuyama, the project begins with the premise that governance is a characteristic of modern polities concerning the delivery of public services that is different from either democratic institutions or the rule of law.

Poverty, Violence and Governance Lab

Established in 2010 and led by Professor Beatriz Magaloni, the Poverty, Violence and Governance Lab is dedicated to the study of the causes and consequences of criminal violence in the developing world and to the design and evaluation of interventions that reduce crime and improve security in areas of weak governance. With a focus on Latin America, where more than 30% of the world's homicides occur, our Lab uses the most advanced analytical tools in the social sciences to understand what works and what doesn’t to control violence, improve the performance and accountability of security institutions and the police, reduce human rights violations, and provide opportunities for at-risk youth.


The Program on Turkey is a platform for critical analysis and research on politics and society in Turkey. Through research projects, speaker events, and conferences, the Program seeks to provide and facilitate an understanding of the changing internal dynamics and external relations of the country in connection with global and regional developments and highlight potential agents and viable pathways for a democratic and sustainable future.

The World House Project

The World House Project curates audiovisual resources, produces educational materials, and fosters collaboration between social justice organizations to realize Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of a just and nonviolent future.

Leadership Programs

CDDRL's practitioner-based training programs engage emerging civic leaders and social entrepreneurs who are working to achieve or deepen democracy and social justice in some of the most challenging environments around the world.

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Draper Hills Summer Fellowship Program

A three-week executive education program.
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Leadership Academy for Development (LAD)

Training government officials and business leaders from developing countries
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Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program

A 10-month academic training fellowship for mid-career practitioners from Ukraine.

Teaching and Fellowships

CDDRL welcomes undergrad and graduate students, as well as post-docs in two major programs: CDDRL Honors Program and Pre and Post Doctoral Fellowship Program

Fisher Family CDDRL Honors Program

CDDRL Interdisciplinary Honors Program for upper-level undergraduate students.

CDDRL Pre-doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships

Graduate students program focusing on democracy, development, evaluating the efficacy of democracy promotion, and rule of law.

Learn More about our 2020-21 Postdoctoral Scholars

Nathan Grubman

Nathan Grubman

Salma Mousa

Salma Mousa

Leah Rosenzweig

Leah Rosenzweig

Democracy World

Explore the CDDRL podcast, on iTunes and SoundCloud

Follow our Center and our faculty and researchers on social media!