Past eventMembersChatham House Forum

Chatham House Forum: Is The West Damaging Democracy?

14 September 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Chatham House, London


Dr Brian Klaas, Fellow in Comparative Politics, LSE; Author, The Despot's Accomplice: How the West is Aiding & Abetting the Decline of Democracy



According to the 2017 Freedom in the World Report, 2016 marked the 11th consecutive year of a decline in global freedom, with populist and nationalist forces making significant gains in democratic states. But when analysing the causes of this decline, is it possible that Western foreign policy is accelerating the deterioration of democracy around the world?

Brian Klaas will present the case that there is currently a perfect storm raging against democracy, which the West is directly facilitating. Arguing that Western governments have historically set low standards for what constitutes ‘democracy’, along with misguided Western foreign policy - backing friendly dictators, turning a blind eye to abuses of democracy or actively toppling democratic regimes – Klaas will contend that Western governments are aiding and abetting the decline of democracy. He will end by making the case that Western democracies themselves are vulnerable to populist strongmen with authoritarian tendencies and, when such leaders come to power, these regimes dampen the examples of strong democracy to which other countries might aspire.

About Chatham House Forums

Each Chatham House Forum considers a question around an important contemporary debate in international affairs.

An expert speaker will offer a polemic in response - providing their answer to this question and outlining the key arguments that have convinced them of their position. The audience then have the chance to query and challenge the speaker’s views in a Q&A session during the second half of the event.

Each event will be followed by a reception with the speaker, allowing attendees to continue the conversation.