California Considers: Discussing Big, Bold Ideas for the State’s Future

A sample of Californians were asked to react to transformative policy reforms for the future. Hear what they had to say and what it could mean for you and our state.

California 100, in partnership with Stanford University’s Deliberative Democracy Lab (Stanford DDL) and the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, embarked on an effort to ask Californians directly to react to big, bold policy proposals that could dramatically transform the state’s trajectory in the years and decades ahead.

Using previous deliberative polls conducted by Stanford DDL as inspiration, “California Considers: Policy Deliberations for Our Long Term Success” was designed to center the experiences and perspectives of real Californians from every walk of life to test how significant changes in policy might improve the quality of life for all residents. Participants were given a pre-survey, participated in deliberations with one another, then asked for their final opinions about various policy ideas. These results will be released in tandem with this discussion.

Please join us for an important discussion on California's future.

NOTES: This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

This event is hosted by California 100. For questions, please reach out to them directly at

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105

Panel Discussions
Security Assistance in the Middle East: Challenges ... and the Need for Change event details

Hicham Alaoui, Robert Springborg, Zeinab Abul-Magd, Lindsay Benstead, and Sean Yom join ARD to discuss their recently released book, Security Assistance in the Middle East: Challenges ... and the Need for Change (Lynne Rienner, 2023). To order, click here.

Why, given the enormous resources spent by the US and Europe on security assistance to Arab countries, has it led to so little success? Can anything be done to change the disheartening status quo? Addressing these thorny questions, the authors of this state-of-the-art assessment evaluate the costs and benefits to the main providers and recipients of security assistance in the MENA region and explore alternative strategies to improve outcomes for both.


Hicham Alaoui

Hicham Alaoui is the founder and director of the Hicham Alaoui Foundation, which undertakes innovative social scientific research in the Middle East and North Africa. He is a scholar on the comparative politics of democratization and religion, with a focus on the MENA region. In the past, he served as a visiting scholar and Consulting Professor at the Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law at Stanford University.  He more recently served as postdoctoral fellow and research associate at Harvard University. He was also Regents Lecturer at several campuses of the University of California system. Outside of academia, he has worked with the United Nations in various capacities, such as the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. He has also worked with the Carter Center in its overseas missions on conflict resolution and democracy advancement. He has served on the MENA Advisory Committee for Human Rights Watch and the Advisory Board of the Carnegie Middle East Center. He served on the board of the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University and has recently joined the Advisory Board of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard. He holds an A.B. from Princeton University, M.A. from Stanford University, and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. His latest book is Pacted Democracy in the Middle East: Tunisia and Egypt in Comparative Perspective (Palgrave, 2022). His memoirs, Journal d'un Prince Banni, were published in 2014 by Éditions Grasset, and have since been translated into several languages. He is also co-author with Robert Springborg of The Political Economy of Arab Education (Lynne Rienner, 2021), and co-author with the same colleague on the forthcoming volume Security Assistance in the Middle East: Challenges and the Need for Change (Lynne Rienner, 2023). His academic research has been widely published in various French and English journals, magazines, and newspapers of record.

Robert Springborg

Robert Springborg is a Scientific Advisor of the Istituto Affari Internazionali and Adjunct Professor at SFU School for International Studies (Vancouver). Formerly he was Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, and Program Manager for the Middle East for the Center for Civil-Military Relations; the holder of the MBI Al Jaber Chair in Middle East Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he also served as Director of the London Middle East Institute; the Director of the American Research Center in Egypt; University Professor of Middle East Politics at Macquarie University in Sydney Australia; and assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley; the College of Europe; the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po; the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London; and the University of Sydney. In 2016 he was Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar, Middle East Initiative, Kennedy School, Harvard University. His publications include Mubarak’s Egypt. Fragmentation of the Political Order (1989); Family Power and Politics in Egypt (1982); Legislative Politics in the Arab World (1999, co-authored with Abdo Baaklini and Guilain Denoeux); Globalization and the Politics of Development in the Middle East first and second editions, (2001 and 2010, co-authored with Clement M. Henry); Oil and Democracy in Iraq (2007); Development Models in Muslim Contexts: Chinese, ‘Islamic’ and Neo-Liberal Alternatives(2009) and several editions of Politics in the Middle East (co-authored with James A. Bill). He co-edited a volume on popular culture and political identity in the Gulf that appeared in 2008. He has published in the leading Middle East journals and was the founder and regular editorialist for The Middle East in London, a monthly journal that commenced publication in 2003.

Zeinab Abul-Magd

Zeinab Abul-Magd is a professor of Middle Eastern history. She received a PhD in history and political economy in 2008 at Georgetown University, and an MA in Arab studies and Islamic law in 2003, also at Georgetown University. She received a BS in political science in 1996 at Cairo University, Egypt. She specializes in the socioeconomic history, army, war and society, and Islamic law and society in the Middle East. Her first book, Imagined Empires: A History of Revolt in Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013) won the Roger Owen Book Award in economic history from the Middle Eastern Studies Association in North America (MESA). This book has been translated into Arabic and published in Cairo by the Egyptian National Center of Translation in 2018. Her recent publications include a monograph titled Militarizing the Nation: The Army, Business, and Revolution in Egypt (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), and an edited volume titled Businessmen in Arms: How the Military and Other Armed Groups Profit in the MENA Region, coeditor with Elke Grawert (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016). As an internationally recognized expert in the field, Abul-Magd was invited to publish countless reports with influential think tanks in Washington, D.C. and Europe. In addition, she published articles at Foreign Policy magazine, Jadaliyya, and several Arabic newspapers. In the United States, she published essays with renowned think tanks such as Carnegie Endowment, the Atlantic Council, and Middle East Institute. In Europe, she wrote reports for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London; SOAS’s Middle East in London Magazine, University of London; Transparency International (TI), London; the German Orient-Institute (Deutsches Orient-Institut), Berlin; Christian Michelson Institute (CMI), Norway; and Istituto Per Gli studi Di Politica Internazionale (ISPI), Italy. In Egypt, she published Arabic journalistic articles at al-Manassa, and Mada Masr. She was interviewed or quoted by local and international newspapers and networks such as the Washington Post, the New York TimesReutersal-MonitorFrance 24DW (Deutsche Welle), El MundoVox, ONTV, and al-Masry al-Youm TV.

Lindsay Benstead

Lindsay J. Benstead is Associate Professor of Political Science in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and Director of the Middle East Studies Center (MESC) at Portland State University. Her research on women and politics, public opinion, and survey methodology has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Governance, and Foreign Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Political Science from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and served as a doctoral fellow at Yale University and a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University. For more on her research, see

Sean Yom

Sean Yom is Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University, Senior Fellow in the Middle East Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy in Washington, DC.  He is a specialist on regimes and governance in the Middle East, especially in Arab monarchies like Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco. His research engages topics of authoritarian politics, democratic reforms, institutional stability, and economic development in these countries, as well as their implications for US foreign policy. His publications include the books From Resilience to Revolution: How Foreign Interventions Destabilize the Middle East (Columbia University Press, 2016); the co-edited volume The Political Science of the Middle East: Theory and Research since the Arab Uprisings (Oxford University Press, 2022); and articles in print journals like Comparative Political Studies, European Journal of International Relations, Studies in Comparative International Development, and Journal of Democracy.

Hesham Sallam

Online via Zoom

Hicham Alaoui
Robert Springborg
Zeinab Abul-Magd
Lindsay Benstead
Sean Yom
Marisa Kellam
News Type

In a workshop hosted jointly by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law and the Southeast Asia Program of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center on March 9, 2023, scholars discussed the setbacks and prospects for democracy in Southeast Asia. The workshop included Stanford affiliates, visiting scholars at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and political scientists from several universities and research institutions in Japan, whose visit to Stanford was funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.

Democracies in Southeast Asia face challenges found among other democracies around the globe, including pervasive corruption, political polarization, and the spread of disinformation on social media.

These issues were prominent in the workshop presentations and discussions. At one point, APARC visiting scholar Gita Wirwajan used the opportunity to urge Stanford, being in Silicon Valley, to speak louder against the information-degrading effects of social media.

Scholars also discussed the other distinctive and challenging conditions in which democracy, development, and the rule of law must take root in Southeast Asia, including monarchial traditions, religious diversity, and proximity to China. Such topics ranged widely, from Islamic Law in the Indonesian province of Aceh through China-funded infrastructure in Myanmar to the Mindanao conflict in the Philippines.

Waseda University Associate Professor and CDDRL Visiting Scholar Marisa Kellam co-chaired the workshop’s panels and roundtables with APARC’s Southeast Asia Program Director and CDDRL Affiliated Faculty Donald Emmerson. On the panels, Kana Inata (Tokyo Metropolitan University) and Ruosui Zhang (Waseda University) presented papers for discussion by Michael Bennon and Francis Fukuyama (both Stanford). The roundtables featured papers or remarks by Lisandro Claudio (UC Berkeley), Reza Idria (Ar-Raniry State Islamic University), Yuko Kasuya (Keio University), Aya Watanabe (Institute of Developing Economies), and Gita Wirwajan (Ancora Group). Several Stanford students in the Masters of International Policy program attended the workshop and took part in the discussion, and we were pleased to welcome representatives from the Consulate General of both Indonesia and the Philippines as well.

Perspectives from Indonesia and the Philippines

The morning roundtable offered the two Indonesian scholars’ perspectives on democracy, development, and the rule of law in Indonesia. Idria, while acknowledging that Aceh in democratic Indonesia is almost a state inside a state, situated the province within larger socioeconomic and religious contexts. Wirjawan argued that Indonesia’s democracy needs to become meritocratic, which he linked to the need for improved education.

The afternoon roundtable on the Philippines focused on Bongbong Marcos’s victory in the 2022 Philippine presidential election. According to Claudio, Bongbong’s opponent had run on a good governance platform that failed to persuade voters accustomed to the dynastic personalism of Philippine politics. Kasuya augmented Claudio’s account with reference to the disinformation circulating through social media and the disintegration of political parties and other accountability institutions during Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency. Watanabe’s scope included previous Philippine presidents, specifically their efforts to obtain legislative approval of the settlements negotiated to end the Mindanao insurgency.

Understanding Global Trends

In addition to the roundtable discussions on Indonesia and the Philippines, panel presentations at the workshop used Southeast Asian cases to understand global trends. Zhang’s research on the changing fate of the China-invested Myitsone dam project in Myanmar demonstrated that a developing country undergoing semi-democratic political change would not necessarily kowtow to Beijing. Inata compared the power of monarchs and described how monarchies have contributed to autocratization in Southeast Asia.

For Prof. Emmerson, the workshop’s value reflected the crucial and generous role played by Prof. Kellam in organizing the event; the scope and quality of its findings and interpretations; its coverage of an important region that lacks the attention Northeast Asia receives; and the all too rare collaboration that the workshop achieved between differently specialized components of Stanford University.

All News button

Scholars from Asia joined faculty and researchers from Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) to present research and reflections on various topics and cases from the Southeast Asia region, including the monarchy in politics, peace-making in the Philippines, Chinese infrastructure investments in Myanmar, illiberalism in the Philippines, and Islamic law in Indonesia.

Student Session on Careers in Government

Attention all students interested in careers in government and public diplomacy!

Join CDDRL for a unique opportunity to meet with representatives from the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy on Thursday, April 13.

During this event, you'll have the chance to learn about the Commission's work to promote the understanding of U.S. policies and culture overseas, ask questions, and network with professionals with decades of experience in government and public service.

This event is perfect for students interested in pursuing careers in government, international relations, public diplomacy, and related fields. Don't miss out on this chance to connect with professionals and gain valuable insights into the world of public diplomacy.

This event is only open to students.

About the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

Since 1948, the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) has been charged with appraising U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics and to increase the understanding of, and support for, these same activities. The ACPD conducts research and symposiums that provide honest assessments and informed discourse on public diplomacy efforts across government. Supported by the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, the Commission reports to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress.

CDDRL and State Department Logos
Panel Discussions
Alex Kekauoha
News Type

This article originally appeared in the Stanford Report

Last week, as the world marked one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk shared a message with Americans:

“It’s not a war for territories or resources. It’s not a regional conflict. It’s a war for freedom and democracy,” he said during a panel discussion Friday at the Bechtel Conference Center at Stanford University.

The public event was hosted by the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) and the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) to mark one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It took place before live and virtual audiences, including many wearing blue and yellow in support of the Ukrainian effort.

Honcharuk served as Ukraine’s 17th prime minister from 2019-2020, and in 2021, was the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at FSI. He was joined by Serhiy Leshchenko, a former journalist, member of Ukraine’s parliament (2014-2019), adviser to President Zelenksyy’s chief of staff, and a 2013 alumnus of the Draper Hills Summer Fellows program at the CDDRL; Oleksandra Matviichuk, founder of the Center for Civil Liberties and former visiting scholar with the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at the CDDRL (2017-2018); and Oleksandra Ustinova, the People’s Deputy of Ukraine, a current member of Ukraine’s Parliament, and a former visiting scholar with the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at the CDDRL (2018-2019).

Honcharuk, Leshchenko, and Ustinova attended virtually from Kyiv, while Matviichuk joined virtually from Paris, France. During the event, they discussed the impact of the war on daily life, the global democratic order, and Ukraine’s future. The discussion was moderated by Michael McFaul, director of FSI and a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, and ended with a brief Q&A session with audience members.

An edited recording of the panel is available below.

A New Reality

In his opening remarks, McFaul asked the panelists to share their mood as they enter the second year of the war. Ustinova said that just prior to the panel event, they’d been informed of an impending Russian attack.

“There is a very high probability that today, Kyiv and other cities will be shelled pretty heavily,” she said, adding that despite the threat, they weren’t going anywhere and that the parliament was still in session.

“That’s the mood of Ukrainians,” she said. “We know we can be hit any day, we can die any day, but this is the reality we have to live in.”

We all have to realize, this is not a Ukrainian war. If the West loses in Ukraine, it will be a total collapse for the rest of the world.
Oleksandra Ustinova
People's Deputy of Ukraine

Honcharuk said he’d heard the opinion that authoritarian regimes are better suited for war because they are more mobile and less distracted by politics, thus creating the impression that democracies are indecisive. But, he said, Ukraine’s war effort demonstrates the opposite.

“I feel proud that Ukraine now denied this and showed the power of democracy,” he said.

When an audience member asked how the war has impacted political life in Ukraine, Honcharuk said there are challenges. For example, there are some conflicts between the central and local governments, but they don’t appear to be systemic problems. He said the parliament is still working and all Ukrainian political parties are “more or less united.” He also noted that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has “huge support” from the Ukrainian people.

Aid and Allies

Since the start of the war, the United States has spent tens of billions of dollars on aid to Ukraine, including artillery, tanks, and rocket launchers. The support has not only helped Ukraine stave off defeat, but enabled their success in many battles against Putin’s army.

In a recent interview with Stanford News, Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and an affiliate at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), said that Ukraine’s military had considerable success in the last four months of 2022, pushing Russian forces out of the Kharkiv region and back across the Dnipro River in Kherson.

On Friday, the panelists expressed gratitude for the support of the United States and other western allies in aiding their victories on the battlefield.

Ukraine and Ukrainians will always remember how American people support us in [these] dramatic times.
Oleksandra Matviichuk
Founder of the Center for Civil Liberties

“Thank you,” Matviichuk said. “Ukraine and Ukrainians will always remember how American people support us in [these] dramatic times.”

Honcharuk agreed and said he viewed the U.S. as a partner in the war. “I want American people to understand that now we are together – Ukraine on the frontline, you on the back,” he said.

The panelists also urged for continued cooperation from Western allies.

“The prescription for war is three [items],” Leshchenko said. “First is weapons, second is sanctions [on Russia], third is financial support.”

Looking Ahead

The group expressed hope that this year Ukraine will see a victorious end to the war. Leshchenko added that he would like to someday see Ukraine join the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) because it could make significant contributions to the alliance.

“I think the Ukrainian army [is] going to be the best army in Europe,” he said. “It would be a privilege for NATO to have the Ukrainian army’s support because it will defend Europe much better than Europe has [been] able to do with its own army.”

Ustinova said a common misunderstanding about the war is that it started last year with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the conflict, she said, dates back to 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, and she explained how Ukrainians define success.

“Our victory is the total liberalization of each kilometer of the captured territories since 2014. Not since 2022,” she said.

She added that what’s most important to understand about the war is that it has broad implications, including for the West.

“We all have to realize, this is not a Ukrainian war,” she said. “If the West loses in Ukraine, it will be a total collapse for the rest of the world.”

Read More

Some of the original Ukrainian alumni from the Draper Hills Summer Fellowship gather in Kyiv in 2013.

A History of Unity: A Look at FSI’s Special Relationship with Ukraine

Since 2005, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies has cultivated rich academic ties and friendships with Ukrainian scholars and civic leaders as part of our mission to support democracy and development domestically and abroad.
A History of Unity: A Look at FSI’s Special Relationship with Ukraine
All News button

To commemorate the first year of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian leaders joined a panel hosted by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies to express their hopes for victory and their gratitude for Western support.

The Role of Public Diplomacy in Democracy Promotion

In partnership with the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy is pleased to host a moderated panel discussion on the role of public diplomacy in democracy promotion at Stanford University.

A distinguished panel of experts, including Larry Diamond, Michael McFaul, and Kathryn Stoner, will discuss how USG public diplomacy programs can most effectively promote and defend democratic values in an increasingly authoritarian and illiberal global context.  The panel will also consider whether the U.S. is still a credible force in championing democracy around the globe. Finally, we hope this panel will yield insights into how public diplomacy programs can better shape the way foreign publics perceive and act upon their citizen rights and responsibilities.

Intended for an audience of public diplomacy practitioners, policymakers, scholars, and Stanford professors and students, this panel will also be of interest to think tanks, NGOs, and academic institutions and centers devoted to the study of the diplomacy/democracy nexus. Participants can join in person or online.

CDDRL and State Department Logos

Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Online: Via Zoom

Panel Discussions
Rebuild, Reimagine, and Accelerate: Ukraine

Rebuilding Ukraine will not be easy. Rebuilding Ukraine into a modern market economy, an effective state, and a thriving democracy that can fulfill the requirements of EU membership will be a challenge. Rebuilding Ukraine into a model for sustainable development and sustainable societies in the 21st century for the world to follow will be an uphill battle.

It is a necessary battle.

Guided by past experiences of successes and failures in post-war reconstruction, our goal is to generate innovative, practical ideas for the rebuilding effort. We aim to provide a framework for reconstruction that empowers government policymakers, private sector actors, and non-government leaders to be ambitious and accountable.

This workshop brings together a broad set of experts to define the problem, outline the cornerstones of an effective framework, and lay the foundations for future action. We hope that the conversations we start together at Stanford will serve as a springboard for productive collaborations in the months and years ahead.

Organized by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, and Economists for Ukraine.

7:30 - 8:10 am — Arrival and breakfast

8:10 - 8:15 am — Welcoming remarks

Kathryn Stoner (Stanford)
Dmytro Kushneruk (Consulate of Ukraine in San Francisco)

8:15 - 8:30 am — Opening remarks

Anastassia Fedyk (UC Berkeley)
Michael McFaul (Stanford)

8:30 - 9:00 am — Keynote Address

Mustafa Nayyem (State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine), via Zoom

9:00 - 9:45 am — Taking stock: The Scale of Destruction and Scope of Reconstruction so far

Tymofiy Mylovanov (Kyiv School of Economics), via Zoom  
Nataliia Shapoval (Kyiv School of Economics), via Zoom

9:45 - 10:00 am — Coffee break

10:00 - 11:30 am — Getting the Economics Right. The Policies and Sequence of Reform and Reconstruction

Chair: Anastassia Fedyk (UC Berkeley)

Torbjorn Becker (Stockholm School of Economics)  
Barry Eichengreen (UC Berkeley)  
James Hodson (AI for Good Foundation)  
Marianna Kudlyak (Federal Reserve Bank San Francisco)  
Denis Gutenko (former Head of State Fiscal Service)

11:30 - 11:45 am — Coffee break

11:45 am -1:15 pm — Getting Governance Right. Strengthening Democratic Accountability and Expanding Civic Engagement

Chair: Anna Grzymala-Busse (Stanford)

Francis Fukuyama (Stanford)  
Luis Garicano (University of Chicago), via Zoom  
Ilona Sologoub (Vox Ukraine; Economists for Ukraine)  
Eva Busza (National Democratic Institute)  
Olexandr Starodubtsev (National Agency on Corruption Prevention), via Zoom

1:15 - 2:00 pm — Lunch

2:00 - 4:00 pm — Getting International Financing Right. The Structure, Sources, and Types of International Assistance

Chair: Erik Jensen (Stanford)

General Principles and Problems 
Panelists: Yuriy Gorodnichenko (UC Berkeley); Roger Myerson (University of Chicago)

The View from the U.S. Administration  
Panelists: Erin McKee (Bureau for Europe and Eurasia (E&E), USAID), via Zoom
Dafna Rand (Office of Foreign Assistance (F), Department of State), via Zoom

The View from International Financial Institutions 
Panelists: Vladyslav Rashkovan (IMF), via Zoom; Michael Strauss (EBRD)

4:00 - 4:15 pm — Coffee Break

4:15 - 6:00 pm — Sectoral and Regional Rebuilding. Ukrainian Reconstruction as a New Model for Sustainable Development

Chair: Kathryn Stoner (Stanford)

Tatyana Deryugina (UIUC; Economists for Ukraine)  
Yulia Bezvershenko (Stanford)  
Andrii Parkhomenko (USC)  
Iryna Dronova (UC Berkeley)  
Eric Hontz (Center for International Private Enterprise) 
Roman Zinchenko (Greencubator), via Zoom

6:00 - 6:30 pm — Takeaways and Next Steps

Moderators: Anastassia Fedyk and Michael McFaul

6:30 - 7:00 pm — Reception

7:00 pm — Working Dinner: Takeaways and Next Steps

By invitation only. Not open to the public.

Workshop on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law in Southeast Asia

This workshop brings together scholars from Asia and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University to discuss the state of democracy, development, and the rule of law in Southeast Asia. Through these broad lenses, the participants will present research and reflections on various topics and cases from the region, including the monarchy in politics, peace-making in the Philippines, Chinese infrastructure investments in Myanmar, illiberalism in the Philippines, and Islamic law in Indonesia.

Event Co-Chairs:

Marisa Kellam
Associate Professor, Waseda University and Visiting Scholar at CDDRL

Donald K. Emmerson
Director, Southeast Asia Program of Shorenstein APARC

9:30 – 10:00 AM — Coffee and Introductions

10:00 – 10:45 AM — Political and Social Risks of the BRI: China’s overseas infrastructure investment projects in Myanmar
Presenter: Ruosui Zhang, Ph.D. Candidate, Waseda University
Discussant: Mike Bennon, Research Scholar, Global Infrastructure Policy Research Initiative at CDDRL, Stanford University

Developing countries are not passive takers of China’s loans and investments, an oft-overlooked aspect in the political economy of China’s foreign investment. Tracing the changing fate of the Myitsone dam in Myanmar, this presentation will argue that an increase in accountability from military dictatorship to semi-democracy explains the suspension of the project by the Myanmar government in 2011. It will also argue that the change in the leadership’s ideology from the quasi-civilian to a civilian government explains why the project did not encounter further setbacks even though the accountability level increases in Myanmar in 2016. 

10:45 – 11:30 AM — Roundtable discussion on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law in Indonesia
Reza Idria, Assistant Professor, Ar-Raniry State Islamic University
Gita Wirjawan, Chairman, Ancora Group

This roundtable discussion will offer the perspectives of renowned Indonesia scholars on democracy, development and the rule of law in their country. In particular, Reza Idria will discuss the social and political responses to Sharia in Aech, and its broader implications for the rule of law in Indonesia. Gita Wira will speak about prospects and challenges for Indonesian democracy and development, including his expectations for the outcome and impact of elections next year.

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM — Lunch and Informal Discussion 

12:30 – 1:15 PM — Monarchy and Autocratization: Cases in Southeast Asia
Presenter: Kana Inata, Associate Professor, Tokyo Metropolitan University
Discussant: Francis Fukuyama, Professor and Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at CDDRL, Stanford University

Focusing on Southeast Asian monarchies, this presentation will highlight monarchs’ involvement in processes of autocratization in the region. The talk will contend that the monarchy intervenes directly as an autocratizer in Malaysia and Brunei, whereas the monarchy is used indirectly to justify autocratization by government actors in Thailand and Cambodia. In making these claims, the talk will clarify the boundaries between monarch’s de jure and de facto interventions in politics and will consider monarchical accountability. 

1:15 – 2:30 PM — Roundtable discussion on Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Philippines
Aya Watanabe (Researcher, Institute of Developing Economies-JETRO)
Lisandro Claudio (Associate Professor, UC Berkeley)
Yuko Kasuya (Professor, Keio University)

This discussion will consider the nature of democracy and its impact on the rule of law in the Philippines. Aya Watanabe will argue that the electoral prospects of politicians have complicated peace-making in the Mindanao conflict given that the negotiated settlements must be approved and implemented within the democratic political system. Both Lisandro Claudio and Yuko Kasuya will offer reflections on the May 2022 Philippine presidential election, and the pervasiveness of illiberalism, corruption, and violence in Philippine democracy more generally.

2:30 – 3:00 PM — Reflections 
Co-chairs and participants

Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

This event is open to Stanford affiliates and invited guests only.

Nora Sulots
News Type

The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University is proud to join Freedom House and a coalition of nearly 500 experts, organizations, dignitaries, and heads of state calling on the international community to strengthen its support for Iranian pro-democracy protesters.

A joint statement on the Freedom House website reads as follows:

Iranians have taken to the streets in rebellion.  The vanguard are young women, but they have been joined by men and people of all ages.  With breathtaking courage and unarmed, they have kept coming, even as the regime has shot, hanged, tortured, blinded, raped, beaten, and arrested many thousands. 

The spark was mandatory hijab, but the target of the uprising is the whole theocratic system.  Their slogan is Woman, Life, Freedom.  The goal they chant is “Azadi, Azadi, A-za-di,” meaning “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.” 

Their victory would mean deliverance from a regime that denies free elections, free speech, due process of law, and personal autonomy in matters as simple as the choice of clothing. 

Victory would mean even more than that.  The end of the Islamic Republic’s system of misogyny would constitute a global landmark in the long march toward a world in which women are treated equally. 

The triumph of freedom in Iran could renew the global tide of democratization that was so strong in the latter twentieth century but has ebbed in the face of authoritarian counterattack. 

The Azadi movement addresses no demands to the regime, which it regards as fundamentally illegitimate and beyond reform.  The protestors chant “down with” it.  They want theocracy and dictatorship replaced by freedom and democracy.  They proclaim a “revolution.” 

They deserve unstinting support from freedom-loving people around the world: 

  • Governments, civic associations, and individuals should speak loudly and often in support of the protestors and in condemnation of the regime’s repressive actions.  Legislators and others should “adopt” individual arrestees, especially those facing execution, and spotlight their plight. 
  • Governments should take diplomatic, economic, and symbolic measures to punish the regime and bolster the protestors. All officials involved in the repressions, from Supreme Leader Khamenei down to local Basij commanders, should be sanctioned. The Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) should be added to terrorism lists. 
  • High level officials of democratic governments should receive leaders of the opposition, in publicly-announced meetings. 
  • Accurate, reliable, fact-based reporting via international radio, television, and social media reaching Iran should be enhanced, as should assistance to private Iranian exile broadcasting. 
  • Technical assistance, including equipment, should be given to help the demonstrators counteract censorship and surveillance and to communicate despite the regime’s disruption of Internet service and blocking of websites. 
  •  Labor unions, governments, and others in the international community should express solidarity with Iranian workers, should share the experiences of other labor struggles for worker rights and democracy, and should also seek ways to provide practical assistance, such as VPNs, other means of communication, and contributions to strike funds if safe and effective channels can be found.

We pledge to do all in our power to support the Iranian struggle for Azadi and call upon all people of good will everywhere to join us.

Additional signatories as of publishing this article include CDDRL faculty (Kathryn Stoner, Abbas Milani, Michael McFaul, Francis Fukuyama, and Larry Diamond), visitors (Sheri Berman), and practitioner program alumni (Laura Alonso, Nino Evgenidze, Nino Zambakhidze, Agon Maliqi, Andrea Ngombet, Oleksandra Medviichuk, and Saeid Golkar), among the hundreds of others.

We encourage you to read the full statement and sign the petition for yourself.

Hero Image
All News button

The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University is proud to join a coalition of nearly 500 experts, organizations, dignitaries, and heads of state calling on the international community to strengthen its support for Iranian pro-democracy protesters.

News Type

Despite their many differences, Taiwan and Ukraine have been portrayed as two fronts in a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. The interrelations between the two geopolitical flashpoints took center stage at the recent Yomiuri International Conference, Taiwan and Ukraine: Challenging Authoritarianism. Cohosted by APARC’s Japan Program, the Yomiuri Shimbun, and the Asia Pacific Initiative, the conference was held on January 16, 2023 at the International House of Japan (IHJ) in Tokyo. It examined paths to addressing autocratic challenges to democracy and offered recommendations for coordinated deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region by the United States and its allies.

The forum included two sessions with Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) experts. The first session, moderated by Ken Jimbo, IHJ managing director and API president, featured panelists Oriana Skylar Mastro, FSI center fellow at APARC, and Michael McFaul, the director of FSI. They examined the fallout of the war in Ukraine, the risks of a Taiwan crisis, and their implications for security in East Asia, including Japan. The second session, moderated by Kiyoteru Tsutsui, the deputy director of APARC and director of the Japan Program, featured panelists Larry Diamond, Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at FSI, and Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at FSI. They considered the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan against the struggle to bolster the liberal international order.

Sign up for APARC newsletters to receive our experts' updates

Military Miscalculations, Economic Dislocations

McFaul opened the first session by reviewing some of the lessons from the war in Ukraine. The international community underestimated the Ukrainian military, he said. Putin, however, miscalculated the response of the United States and NATO, on the military side, and the scope of the sanctions the global community of democratic states, including Japan, would be willing to impose on Russia, on the economic side. 

It turned out, noted McFaul, that it was possible to reduce drastically Russian oil and gas coming into Europe, and Russia today has significantly fewer resources to fight Ukraine than it had anticipated. “I think it is very important to look at just how much economic dislocation happened with Russia, a country that was not integrated into the global economic world in the same way that China is,” McFaul said. He pointed out that the international community might also be underestimating the political pressure and dislocation that will erupt if, unprovoked, China invades Taiwan. “It will have very deep economic consequences for the Chinese economy,” said McFaul.

It is important to remember that the international community did not make credible commitments to deterring Russia before 2022, McFaul noted. In the case of China, he emphasized the imperative of considering concrete ways to enhance deterrence against a Chinese invasion of Taiwan before military action begins. 

Rethinking Defense and Deterrence

China, however, is not easily deterrable, as Mastro explained in her following remarks. President Xi has been clear from early on that enhancing China’s role on the international stage would be a key part of the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda. Taiwan is a top priority issue in the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term thinking, said Mastro. She reminded the audience that at the recent CCP Congress, President Xi reaffirmed that China will not rule out using force to bring Taiwan under its control. He also elevated Party members with extensive expertise in the joint operational domain and with Taiwan contingencies to the Central Military Commission, the Chinese top decision-making body for military affairs.

I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.
Oriana Skylar Mastro

How, then should the United States and its allies approach the question of deterring China? Mastro emphasized three conditions that U.S and Japanese defense policy must meet.

First, whatever the United States and Japan do in the defense realm must have an operational impact. For example, U.S. carriers will do nothing to prevent China from taking Taiwan in a wartime scenario, Mastro argued. “And along those lines, from the Japanese point of view, enhancing defense of the Senkaku Islands does nothing to deter China from taking Taiwan unless Japanese operations are going to be involved directly in stopping a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.”

The second condition is that China has to know about any defense changes the U.S. and its allies are making. For instance, if, in peacetime, there is no indication that the Japanese military is engaging in Taiwan Strait transits with the United States and the Chinese do not know about such activities, then they do not enhance deterrence.

Third, deterrence must happen before a war starts. It may seem an obvious point, but if the prevalent view is that, for example, the Japanese public will support the United States once a conflict over Taiwan erupts, then this approach does not deter China. “We have to let the Chinese know now that there is such support,” Mastro stated.

One issue China is concerned about, Mastro noted, is widening a Taiwan contingency. “China only wins Taiwan if the war is short, geographically limited to Taiwan, and only involves the United States, potentially in Taiwan,” she explained. “So I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.”

Ultimately, the question before the United States and its allies is: “Do we want a happy China that is undeterred or an unhappy China that's deterred,” Mastro concluded. “Those are our only two options.” Deterrence is expensive and requires tradeoffs, but one thing that is costlier than deterrence is a major war, she emphasized.

“Let’s start thinking about how to actually change the environment with the sense of urgency that we need, because my biggest fear is that we're going to find ourselves in a major war with massive cost,” she urged the audience. There will be sacrifices to make, but the alternative, in Mastro's view, is worse.

Opportunities and Perils for Democracy

In the second session of the conference, panelists Larry Diamond and Francis Fukuyama examined the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan from the lens of democratic decline and its implications for the liberal international order.

Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last two decades, yet the picture is not as bleak for democracies as it was just two or three years ago, said Diamond. In the United States, reforms at the state level have occurred, election deniers took control of Congress seats by a much smaller margin than predicted before the 2022 midterms, and extreme election deniers in crucial swing states were virtually defeated. Meanwhile, on the international stage, 2022 spotlighted autocrats’ inevitable shortcomings. In Russia, Putin has catastrophically miscalculated the war in Ukraine. In China, Xi has massively mismanaged the COVID pandemic, and the country’s economic growth is severely impaired.

It's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.
Larry Diamond

Fukuyama said he was encouraged by the democratic solidarity shown in response to the war in Ukraine, especially in Europe, within NATO, and in Japan. Germany’s and Japan’s decisions to increase their defense budgets have been remarkably reassuring signals of strength among democracies, he noted.

But we sometimes forget that many countries in the Global South and elsewhere do not buy into this narrative, cautioned Fukuyama. Among the big disappointments in this regard is India, he stated, which raises the question of whether the issue at stake is indeed a battle between democracy and authoritarianism.

Indeed, democracies still face intractable challenges, Diamond explained. These include the corrupting influence of dirty money around the world, the trends of de-industrialization and hollowing out of the working class in advanced democracies, and social media, which Diamond sees as the single biggest driver of democratic decline. “I cannot tell you how much damage social media has done to destroy the social fabric of Truth and credibility and polarize society into tribal camps who don't have the same facts,” he said. “We have not found a way to temper that impact and win the battle For Truth.”

Taiwan and Deterrence

When it comes to the question of Taiwan, Diamond says he is worried. “There is going to be a PRC military invasion of Taiwan, probably in this decade, unless it is deterred,” he said. The three most crucial actors in deterring China are Taiwan, the United States, and Japan, he explained. Successful deterrence must involve coordination among all three in multiple arenas — from military cooperation to increased defense capacity and preparedness to impose such heavy costs in response to a Chinese invading force that will change Xi’s calculus.

Diamond observed that democracy is about uncertainty, of which there is now plenty in Taiwan as it looks ahead to a January 2024 contentious presidential election. Diamond’s prediction is that "China will intervene however it thinks it can” in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election, as Xi would certainly prefer to pick up the island peacefully than by force, he said. “I think it's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.”

Read More

Gi-Wook Shin and Francis Fukuyama at Encina Hall, Stanford, in conversation.

A Resurgence of Democracy?

A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama on the Challenges of a Changing Global Order
A Resurgence of Democracy?
All News button

At the Yomiuri International Conference, Freeman Spogli Institute scholars Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, Oriana Skylar Mastro, Michael McFaul, and Kiyoteru Tsutsui examined lessons from the war in Ukraine, the risks of a crisis over Taiwan, and the impacts of both geopolitical flashpoints for defending democracy and for a coordinated approach to deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.

Subscribe to Democracy