Global Challenges to Democracy Framing Meeting

June 07 - 09, 2023


More and more reports are documenting an accelerating rate of democratic backsliding coupled with the rise of autocracy and hyperpolarization around the globe. At the same time, a recent Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report identifies 32 countries that have witnessed “democratic bright spots” in the last decade and analyzes, where and why 14 of those shifts towards democracy have been sustained.

With this global context in mind, the aim of the Toda Peace Institute’s Global Challenges to Democracy research area is to deepen collective understanding of internal and external threats and challenges to democracy around the world and to identify ways in which democratic institutions can be strengthened and made more resilient.

As global threats such as climate change, migrations, pandemics, misinformation, growing inequality, and increased polarization expand, the need for well-functioning democracies with engaged citizenry is arguably more critical than ever, both to address national level challenges and those that affect global well-being.

From June 7-9, 2023, Toda, in partnership with the Fletcher School of Global Affairs, will host a Framing Retreat at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Democracy and peacebuilding experts will share research on the various factors that are eroding democratic institutions around the world and develop plans for research and future convenings on how to make democracies more resilient as they struggle to meet 21st century challenges.


Suggested reading for participants:

V-Dem Democracy report 2023: Defiance in the Face of Autocratization

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report, "Understanding and Supporting Democratic Bright Spots” by Thomas Carothers and Benjamin Feldman. Match 2023


Suggested writings by participants:

Haggard, Stephan; Kaufman, Robert, "The Anatomy of Democratic Backsliding," Journal of Democracy 32, 4 (October 2021): 27-41.

Merkel, Wolfgang & Luhrmann, Anna; “Resilience of Democracies: Responses to Illiberal and Authoritarian Challenges,” Democratization 28(5): 869-884 July 2021.

Burgess, Guy; Burgess, Heidi, Applying conflict resolution insights to the hyper-polarized, society-wide conflicts threatening liberal democracies , Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Vol 39, Issue 4 (May 2022); The Key to Revitalizing Liberal Democracy: Think of It As a Conflict Handling System, June 8, 2022, www.Moving Beyond Intractability.

Chowdhury, Debasish Roy, Modi’s India Is Where Global Democracy Dies, New York Times, August 24, 2022; How Long Will Joe Biden Pretend Narendra Modi's India Is a Democratic Ally? TIME, February 15, 2021.

Keane, John, The Shortest History of DemocracyNew York: The Experiment, 2022


Toda Peace Institute Public Conversations on YouTube

Toda Peace Institute has recorded a number of conversations with experts on the challenges to democracy. See the full listing on YouTube here.


Image: Philip Yabut/