15th Anniversary | Democracy International

Democracy International 15th Anniversary


Strengthening Democracy in Demanding Times: Building on 15 Years

Over the past 15 years, Democracy International has worked on nearly 200 projects in more than 70 countries to strengthen political competition, advance effective governance, and support peace and resilience in conflict and transitioning environments. In these complex times, we recognize the fundamentals that have made our success possible, including our strong partnerships and commitment to evidence-based programming, and we are ready to meet new challenges with rigor and dedication.

Words from Our Founders

Projects like ours remain critically important, particularly when democracy is under threat globally. We need to reinforce the idea that democracy is the best way to organize society. In the next 15 years, we will continue to innovate and evolve as we design and implement evidence-based programs that advance global freedoms and enhance international development.

Glenn Cowan, Chief Executive Officer

We founded DI to make democracy assistance more effective. We built a firm that is innovative, agile, and smart, and that develops programs based on evidence. Over the years, we have helped the field evolve to deal with new challenges, including fragile states, violent conflict and extremism, authoritarian learning, and manipulation through social media.

Eric Bjornlund, President

Highlights from Fifteen Years of Global Development


Democracy International at 15 Years

As we reflect on this important milestone, we remain inspired by the leadership, commitment, and talent of our local staff and consultants. Countering damaging rhetoric and shrinking political space requires us to learn from those who navigate these challenges with grace and courage abroad. In 2018, we will recommit not only to improving international development assistance but to standing with our colleagues around the world who remain dedicated to our work and to the idea that democracy is the best way to organize society.


Analyzing Peace and Reconciliation Efforts in Colombia

In 2017, Democracy International started enhancing local peacebuilding efforts in Colombia through complexity-aware monitoring and evaluation. DI’s main objective is to promote awareness and support reconciliation efforts that boost economic and social opportunities through transformative alliances. This program reflects DI’s learning experience in Latin America, including our evaluation of USAID/Colombia’s human rights program and our analytical services to better understand youth crime and violence prevention across the region.


Countering Violent Extremism in Bangladesh

Starting in 2016, Democracy International began working with civil society organizations and researchers to create and test data-driven approaches to counter violent extremism in Bangladesh. The work enhances our projects in Bangladesh designed to advance political party capacity, reduce political violence, and promote internal democratic structures within parties. DI also continues to promote and foster a more inclusive and representative leadership, including among women and youth.


Opening Pathways for Civil Society in South Sudan

After the outbreak of conflict in 2013, Democracy International has promoted an inclusive peace process, accountability, and national cohesion in South Sudan by supporting the country’s civil society leaders and activists, similar to our current programs in Tunisia and Bangladesh. We are amplifying civil society advocacy efforts and supporting partner organizations who are addressing the economic crisis, strengthening local government communication, empowering women, and creating broad civil society networks to drive critical reforms.


Promoting Innovation and Inclusivity in Tunisia

Building on our election monitoring experience in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, Democracy International developed, tested, and deployed innovative new approaches to domestic election monitoring in Tunisia in 2012. We partnered with election observation groups, civil society activists, technology firms, and entrepreneurs to eliminate barriers to political participation, safeguard elections through cross-sector approaches, and better utilize open data to promote electoral transparency and reform. Through get-out-the-vote campaigns that utilize art, creativity, open data, and open-source mapping, DI continues to support Tunisia’s democratic transition by fostering greater civic engagement among the Tunisian electorate and working with civil society to ensure a more inclusive political climate.


Supporting Reforms and Civic Education in Afghanistan

Democracy International facilitated Afghan-led reform efforts to strengthen Afghanistan’s nascent democracy and foster innovations in governance. After a successful election observation mission in Pakistan in 2008, DI monitored elections in 2009, 2010, and 2014 and conducted some of the most comprehensive public and parliamentary survey research in Afghanistan. Alongside our local partners, we also spearheaded an effort to educate female voters, encourage women’s participation in the electoral process, and improve the atmosphere for gender-sensitive election administration.


Observing Pakistan’s Parliamentary Election

Following on our election work in Indonesia, Democracy International organized the U.S. bipartisan delegation to observe the 2008 parliamentary election in Pakistan and supported a domestic election monitoring coalition of civil society groups. Based on our in-country election experience, we also evaluated USAID’s political party assistance in Pakistan.


Enhancing Elections, Government, and Research in Indonesia

Democracy International has a long history of advancing electoral reforms and supporting local government and civil society in Indonesia. In 2004, building on work by our founders in Indonesia since 1995, we worked with the Carter Center on a comprehensive Democracy International launched a comprehensive election-monitoring to observe Indonesia’s first direct presidential election. From 2005 to 2009, as part of two separate projects, we advised national, provincial, and district election commissions, along with civil society organizations, on efforts to improve the quality of local elections. Among others elections, in 2006, we supported post-conflict democratic elections in the province of Aceh.As part of these efforts we advised on training election officials, organizing voter information campaigns, and creating a code of conduct for parties and candidates. In addition, from 2006 to 2009, we developed and conducted annual public opinion research to assess the political environment and public support for reforms and conducted four other assessments and evaluations. These diverse projects in Indonesia proved foundational to our firm’s growth and learning.


Glenn Cowan and Eric Bjornlund found Democracy International