Enhancing Transparency in Ecuador’s Municipalities

Ecuador Conference
IRI convened over 40 local officials from across Ecuador to discuss transparency priorities and create action plans.

After a decade in which corruption in Ecuador reached new heights, the local elections of 2019 brought a new opportunity for genuine reform. However, most of these new government officials lacked the skills and experience to implement much-needed steps toward accountability and transparency.

To support Ecuador on its path to democracy, IRI helps local officials identify transparency challenges and create action plans while empowering citizens to advocate for their transparency demands. In the autumn of 2019, the Institute hosted the “Local Transparent Governments Conference: Strengthening Democracy and Good Governance” in Quito, where national and local level representatives convened to exchange best practices and use lessons learned to create action plans.

Learn more here.

Elections as Actions of Reform: Panama


Presidental Palace Panama
El Palacio de Las Garzas, the residence of the President of Panama, stands to gain a new resident after Panama’s 2019 elections on May 5. 


The electoral process in Panama not only means the exercising of a right and civic duty, but also represents reform. It was through elections that the Panamanian people dismissed a dictatorship and paved the way for the democratic era in which they currently live. After 30 years of living in a democracy, the 2019 elections require the same — if not a higher — level of responsibility and commitment on the part of the Panamanian people to achieve the many reforms that the state demands of institutions following the multiple corruption scandals that the country has faced in recent years.

Read more here.

American Exceptionalism and United Nations Institutional Challenges in Realizing the Responsibility to Protect

United Nations Member Country Flags at the UN Headquarters in New York. Flickr.

Abstract: The fall of the Soviet Union has created complex intra-national security conflicts previously unforeseen to the United Nations (UN), challenging the institution’s efficacy and complicating the United States’ (US) role within the body. As the US continues to oscillate between a leader in international interventions and a removed state that prioritizes its own national security interests, its selectivity has formed a policy of exceptionalism within the United Nations. Throughout the most recent humanitarian conflicts, the US has selectively chosen the UN missions in which it involves itself, otherwise circumventing the Security Council (UNSC) to unilaterally interfere and/or aligning itself with alternative coalitions of the willing to retain the option rather than obligation to intervene. Most importantly, it has directly blocked multilateral negotiations over the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) (a norm that would codify shared standards under which international intervention is permissible) further complicating the potential for cooperation in crisis. Yet the UN is similarly unequipped to enforce RtoP, as certain institutional barriers such as weak mandates, insufficient communication, and the UNSC unanimity rule impede its ability to enforce and administer peacekeeping operations. Thus, this article argues that both American exceptionalism and institutional UN obstacles hinder the implementation of RtoP, while also reaffirming the norm’s benefits.

Read the Preliminary Article Here

No MÁS: The Time Has Come for Evo Morales to Step Down

Quito, Ceremonia de entrega de las "Llaves de la Ciudad"President Evo Morales has made his legacy in Bolivia by presenting himself as a man of the people. Under his socialist administration, he decreased poverty by more than 60 percent through public spending and social programs, successfully re-nationalized natural resources, and, as the country’s first indigenous president, implemented a new constitution that strengthens Bolivia’s indigenous rights. However, recent events indicate Morales is transitioning from a moderate populist towards an undemocratic autocrat. In addition to corruption scandals, desperate attempts to control free speech, and a falling approval rating, Morales is now attempting to out the constitution to remain in power longer than its term limits allow. Despite a failed referendum that would have allowed him to run for a fourth term, Morales defied the voters and accepted his Movement To Socialism (MAS) party’s nomination for president. But in order to avoid moving Bolivia towards autocracy, Mr. Morales must instead step down and name a successor.

Read the Full Article Here

Turkey’s Education Crackdown Exemplifies Post-Coup Censorship

istanbul University
Istanbul University. Wikimedia Commons. 

The failed coup in Turkey last July has resulted in the purges of thousands of public officials. Government representatives are rumored to be investigating suspects’ links to Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Muslim cleric who is said to have sparked the uprising. The crackdown has proven excessive in many sectors of society, leading to the suspension of due process and repression of political opposition in the military, legal system, and police force. Yet the worst-off victim of the crackdown by far has been education.

Since the purge began, the government has closed fifteen universities and 1,000 secondary schools, dismissed 27,000 Ministry of Education staff , suspended 4,255 academics and nearly 10,000 teachers, and asked 1,577 University Deans to resign. The government claims these are security measures designed to safeguard against enemies of the state. Yet the extent of the suspensions and the liberal beliefs of the targeted academics instead demonstrate an attempt by President Erdogan to reform Turkey’s secular education system based on his religious vision. Such actions only confirm Western fears that the purge is an effort to repress political opposition rather than ensure national security.

Read the Full Article Here

Brexit Highlights Growth Obstacles in the Eurozone

Representatives Discuss Brexit’s Economic Effect on July 21. Atlantic Council. 

The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union will have a negative impact on the European economy due to its resulting uncertainty and decreased business confidence for the foreseeable future, according to the International Monetary Fund’s recently updated World Economic Outlook. Beyond uncertainty, experts contend that the outcome of the June 23 vote on a so-called Brexit highlights structural issues within the Eurozone that have prevented significant growth following the 2008 financial crisis.

“There’s no doubt about the fact that this is a negative shock to growth,” Paul Sheard, executive vice president and chief economist at S&P Global, said of the British referendum. “In many ways, it’s worse for the Eurozone than it is for the United Kingdom,” he added.

Read the Full Article Here

From Scandal to Silver Lining: Petrobras’ Offering Opportunity for Brazil’s Energy Sector

silver lining
Experts debate the effects of Lavo Jato on the Brazilian Energy Sector. Atlantic Council.

The Lavo Jato corruption investigations, also known as Operation Car Wash, into Petrobras, Brazil’s oil giant, shocked the energy sector and helped fuel one of the country’s worst recessions. Nonetheless, some analysts are optimistic that the industry can open itself up to foreign investors and domestic competition to once again generate prosperity.

“The energy industry in Brazil is on the verge of its biggest transformation in decades,” wrote Décio Oddone, former CEO of Petrobras, in his latest report for the Atlantic Council—Oil & Gas in Brazil: A New Silver Lining?

“Petrobras has never experienced such a profound transformation. In fact, this is the first time the energy landscape has significantly changed since Brazil became an industrial economy,” he noted in the briefing.

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Post-Ceasefire, Entrepreneurship Enables Social Inclusion in Colombia

Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Discusses the Colombian Ceasefire. Atlantic Council. 

With the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on June 23, many have asked how the deal will help the country recover from decades of violence. However, the solution may depend on not just the agreement, but also the stable economic development of civil society at large, according to development economists.

“We need peace, not just from the FARC, but for all Colombians, which begins from the bottom up,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Read the Full Article Here