In remarks at the 10th Anniversary of Georgetown University's Masters Program in Democracy and Governance, NDI President Kenneth Wollack reflected on the state of democracy around the world.
"I confess to be an incurable optimist who for 32 years has worked in the optimism business," Wollack said. "Given negative trends over the past decade... I, like my chairman Madeleine Albright, remain optimistic but, I concede, we are optimists who now worry a lot."
While acknowledging negative developments, Wollack urged Georgetown students to view the past decade with a degree of perspective. "When I joined NDI in 1986, it was four years after President Reagan's landmark democracy speech before the British parliament (and I would encourage all of you to read it) and less than three years after Congress established the National Endowment for Democracy. Freedom House scored only 52 countries as "free" as compared to 88 in 2018...On the African continent, only four leaders since 1960 had retired voluntarily or left office after losing an election -- that figure stands at nearly 50 since then. Democracy, freedom and dignity were not even part of the lexicon of the Middle East."
Wollack concludes by celebrating the importance of academic training in diplomacy and democratic development as a career path, and the pioneering work of Georgetown University in this field.