Over the past few decades, countries throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America have experienced successful transitions to democracy. The experiences of leaders who have participated in these transitions, and who have worked to sustain democratic stability, are a valuable asset for actors in current democratic transitions. In order to better utilize this expertise, the Community of Democracies (CD), a multilateral organization focused on democracy support around the world, has built a network of advisors who have played a critical role in their own democracies. The LEND Network offers a secure virtual space for sharing this expertise and lessons from past transitions with senior officials and activists working to consolidate democratic gains in today’s newest democracies.
The LEND Network was launched in July 2012 by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet. The United States and Estonia co-chair a working group within the Community of Democracies dedicated to managing the LEND Network.
The LEND Network fills a crucial need by providing a mechanism to facilitate information exchanges on transitions between leaders and former leaders with relevant experience. The array of technological and social networking tools utilized by the online platform helps the LEND Network address the cost and logistical barriers that have limited such information sharing in the past.
Exchanges that occur on LEND’s online platform are demand driven, focused on issues that participants have indicated are the most salient in their countries’ transitions. The online platform also serves as a clearinghouse for information on democratic transitions and hosts biographies and contact information for those that have agreed to volunteer as advisors and those that have self-identified as advice seekers.
The LEND Network is implemented by the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies (PSCD). Their LEND Network Officer curates information relevant to the 13 communities on the platform including: Constitutional Reform, Development Policy, Civil Society, Accountability and Governance, Education, Entrepreneurship, Human Rights, Justice Sector Reform, Diplomacy, Local Governance, Media Sector Development, Political Party Development, Security Sector Reform, and Strengthening the Legislature. Outreach includes newsletters and webinars on topics of interest.