Reveal the underbelly

 

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Strengthening democratic governance around the world requires shaking up the social norms of international diplomacy. That was our conclusion from work with the U.S. State Department, which enlisted us to develop a new model for international organizations.

For example, democracy governance is messy. But diplomats, the polished representatives of their various countries, are polite, measured and disinclined to reveal the underbelly of how their countries’ democratic institutions actually work.

Another example: the most mature democracies, like the United States, are always cast as the teachers and the younger democracies – no matter how effective – are always cast as the students. That must change, we concluded in our report: “All participants must be given the opportunity to act as teachers and as learners. Sometimes the United States should report to Estonia.”

The project was part of our portfolio of work critically assessing norms of international relations, which includes our work with the U.S. State Department on the concept of venture democracy and with New America on supporting social stability.