As South Africa prepares for elections next year, a group of civil society and religious leaders in Cape Town have accused some of the country's political forces - including elements of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) - of launching "a growing assault on democracy".

November 18, 2013

Over the last week or so, there have been more than a few stinging indictments of U.S.-Middle East policy. Whether it is Iran’s nuclear program, the civil war in Syria, or Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to push Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Obama administration is near universally derided as both timorous and out-classed in the face of formidable adversaries. It’s been an impressive pile-on even if some of this commentary is actually more about politics than analysis.

In a surprise visit to Myanmar Thursday, former US President Bill Clinton urged national leaders to defuse the ethnic and religious divisions that have roiled the country, two years into a transition away from military rule. “The whole world has been pulling for Myanmar, even since you opened up,” Mr. Clinton told a group of political, social, and religious leaders in Yangon, the country’s commercial capital. “The whole world cheers every piece of good news and is sick every time they read about sectarian violence.”

A little caviar and a lot of oil goes a long way. In recent years, Baku has spent millions of dollars to persuade politicians in Europe and the United States that the oil-rich Caucasus country is a reliable partner -- and to distract them from criticism that the country is authoritarian and fails to respect fundamental human rights.

Colombia`s Santos administration and FARC guerrillas have unveiled an “historic agreement” on “political participation”. Today`s announcement hopes to breathe life back into a year long peace process that faces growing skepticism. The FARC have promised finally after 50 years of conflict to trade the bullet for the ballot box. We`re now a third of way through the talks, with two of the six points on the agenda being signed off. Excellent, you might think.

“Get out! Get out!” shouted dozens of standing lawmakers at a woman ahead of a swearing-in ceremony in a newly elected Turkish Parliament on May 2, 1999. “This is not the place to challenge the state. Show this woman of her limits!” Bülent Ecevit, then prime minister of Turkey, told the assembly, encouraging deputies of his ruling party to increase the pressure on the woman to leave the assembly.

The four ex heads of state and other politicians received the Ulyses Guimarares medal the highest decoration of the Brazilian Congress for their contributions to the current constitution. The constitution, the seventh in the country's history, was promulgated on 5 October 1988, after a year and eight months of discussions by a constituent assembly elected in 1986.

October 22, 2013

Pakistan’s military continues to cast a long and often dominant shadow over the state. So when President Obama meets with Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Wednesday, he should use the occasion to bolster the civilian government’s role relative to the military. Pakistan, ruled by the military for half of its 66-year life, has taken steps toward democracy, but the process is far from complete.