Oil and Autocratic Regime Survival

New draft paper by Joseph Wright, Erica Frantz, and Barbara Geddes examines how oil revenues promote autocratic survival: Oil and Autocratic Regime Survival [PDF] Here is the abstract: Does oil income stabilize autocratic regimes? While the conventional wisdom claims that oil wealth prolongs autocratic rule by hindering democratization, recent challenges to this claim suggest that…

Typology of Religious Arguments in Public Reason

Andrew March (Yale) has posted Rethinking Religious Reasons in Public Justification on SSRN. Here is the abstract: This paper intervenes in the debate on the place of religious arguments in public reason. I advance the debate not by asking whether something called “religious reasons” ought to be invoked in the justification of coercive laws, but

Report on Internet Censorship in Iran: ‘After the Green Movement’

A new report produced by the Citizen Lab as part of the OpenNet Initiative, details the Iranian regime’s increasing Internet Surveillance and censorship and its extensive filtering system since the 2009 post election green wave of protests. The report was authored by Matthew Carrieri and Saad Omar Khan. Excerpt from the conclusion: The next twelve

Panel Discussion: ‘Civil Rights in Muslim Democracies’

On January 28, 2013, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs held a panel discussion entitled “Civil Rights in Muslim Democracies” with Jocelyne Cesari, Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center, Daniel Brumberg, Associate Professor of Government and Co-Director of Democracy and Governance Studies at Georgetown University, José Casanova, Professor of Sociology

Why Wait for Democracy?

In an article in current issue of The Wilson Quarterly (Winter 2013), Larry Diamond challenges the culturalist and structuralist arguments that non-Western and developing countries are not yet “ready” for democracy: Why Wait for Democracy? Here are two excerpts: The cultural arguments against the prospects for democracy in developing nations were the most tenacious,

Freedom House Report: ‘Freedom in the World 2013′

Freedom House released today its annual report on the state of global freedom: Freedom in the World 2013. The Freedom House report evaluates the civil liberties and political rights of 195 countries during 2012. According to the report, as the year 2012 drew to a close, events in the Middle East dramatized two competing trends

Arab Democracy or Islamist Revolution?

New issue of Journal of Democracy (January 2013, Volume 24, Number 1) features an interesting discussion between Hillel Fradkin and Olivier Roy, debating Roy’s claim in his essay in July 2012 issue of Journal of Democracy (see my post here) that democracy is really becoming “rooted in Arab societies,” so that even the Islamists will

New Book: ‘Middle East Authoritarianisms’

Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran Edited by Steven Heydemann and Reinoud Leenders. Published by Stanford University Press (Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures), January 1st, 2013 Description: The developments of early 2011 have left the political landscape of the Middle East changed but recognizable

Arab Spring and Our Expectations

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Arab Spring, Wilson Center’s Middle East Program asked 39 experts the following question in 12th edition of  its Viewpoints series: “Has the Arab Spring Lived Up to Expectations?”. Here are commentaries by Nathan Brown and Vali Nasr: Nathan Brown: The uprisings in the Arab world in

Democratization, SAGE Four-Volume Set

Democratization – Four Volume Set Edited by Jean Grugel (University of Sheffield) Published by SAGE Publication, November 30, 2012. 1632 pages Description: Since the 1970s, the number of formally democratic states has grown exponentially while coherent alternatives to democracy have steadily diminished in terms of their global relevance. Yet, democracy remains an extremely problematic, conflictual




The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran announces the publication of Sketches of Iran: A Glimpse from the Front Lines of Human Rights, available now at In this unprecedented collection of drawings, editorial cartoons, and portraits of human rights defenders, internationally acclaimed Iranian artists depict the pain and the resiliency of those in Iran who refuse to relinquish their rights, despite the Iranian government’s attempts to silence them.


After the “Arab springs” and other protest movements that prompted many rises and falls in last year’s index, the 2013 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index marks a return to a more usual configuration.


  • Iran: Prosecute Officials in Detained Blogger’s Death | Human Rights Watch →Iran’s judiciary should conclude a speedy, independent, and transparent criminal investigation followed by prosecution of those believed responsible for the death of the blogger Sattar Behesht. Beheshti died in the custody of Tehran’s cyber police in November 2012. Iranian officials should stop harassing his family and hampering their efforts to seek justice and ensure that those responsible for the blogger’s death are held to account. Although Beheshti died almost four months ago, there is no indication that the judiciary has concluded the criminal investigation into the officers accused of responsibility for his death, despite promises by officials that the case would be sent to the courts for prosecution before mid-February.
  • New report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran →”The Special Rapporteur assesses in this report that there continues to be widespread systemic and systematic violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Reports communicated by nongovernmental organisations, human rights defenders, and individuals concerning violations of their human rights or the rights of others continue to present a situation in which civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are undermined and violated in law and practice. Moreover, a lack of Government investigation and redress generally fosters a culture of impunity, further weakening the impact of the human rights instruments Iran has ratified.”
  • Resetdoc Videos: Andrew Arato on ‘The Arab Spring and Democratic Constituent Power’ →In order to create a new democratic political order the initial transformation process needs even more participation and a democratic constituent power, argues political scientist Andrew Arato at Reset-Dialogues’ Istanbul Seminars. Democracy making is a consensual process with an active input from civil society groups, and not just from elites. In Egypt this constituent democratic form never really emerged yet, also because the Brotherhood allowed the military to impose its own rules, asking for quick elections in return.
  • Wege zu einem authentischen Säkularismus, von Nader Hashemi – →”Zwei Jahre nach Beginn des Arabischen Frühlings bestätigt eine Reihe politischer Entwicklungen eine Behauptung aus meinem Buch “Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy” (2012). Darin argumentierte ich, dass in muslimischen Gesellschaften der Weg zur Demokratie, welche Biegungen und Wendungen er auch nevhmen wird, “nicht umhin kann, die Tore der religiösen Politik zu durchqueren”.”
  • Call for Iran to end house arrest of opposition leaders | →Six leading human rights organisations have called on Iran to end the “arbitrary” house arrest of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been cut off from the outside world for nearly two years without being put on trial.
  • Photo Essays: 50 Years of Women’s Right to Vote in Iran – →In 1963 – 50 years ago, women in Iran got the right to vote. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi allowed women to vote as one part of a broader reform program to modernize the country. Women’s voting rights in particular were granted in late January by way of a national referendum. Initially, the majority of Iranians stood behind the reform agenda known as the White Revolution. id-1963 brought heavy opposition to implementing the reform, and Iran’s spiritual elites were bitterly against the White Revolution. It was this context that propelled the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, who would go on to lead his own revolution.