National Democratic Institute

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National Democratic Institute
TypeNon-profit non-governmental organization
Headquarters455 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Derek Mitchell

The National Democratic Institute (NDI)[a], is a non-profit American NGO whose stated mission is to "support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability".[1] It is funded primarily by the United States and other Western governments, by major corporations and by nonprofits like the Open Society Foundations.

The NDI was founded in 1983, shortly after the United States Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).[2] The NED's creation was followed by the establishment of three related institutes: the Center for International Private Enterprise, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the National Republican Institute for International Affairs, later renamed the International Republican Institute (IRI). NED provides funds to these three institutes and an expanding number of private sector groups so that they are able to carry out their programs abroad.[3]

While headquartered in Washington, D.C., NDI operates exclusively outside of the United States, promoting democratic civil participation, elections, debates, democratic governance, democracy and technology, political inclusion of marginalized groups, and gender, women and democracy, peace and security, political parties, and youth political participation worldwide.[4][5] Officially non-partisan, NDI takes no position on U.S. elections, though maintains a loose affiliation with the Democratic Party and is a "cooperating organization" with Liberal International.[6][7]


In January 2018, NDI announced the appointment of Derek Mitchell as its president, succeeding Kenneth Wollack.[8] In January 2024, NDI announced the appointment of Tamara Cofman Wittes (who served on NDI's board from 2014 to 2022) as its new president, effective March 15, 2024, succedding Mitchell.[9]

As of December 2023, NDI's board of directors includes: Thomas A. Daschle (chair), Harriet C. Babbitt (vice chair), Robert G. Liberatore (treasurer), Frank M. "Rusty" Conner (secretary), Stacey Abrams, Bernard W. Aronson, J. Brian Atwood, Donald A. Baer, Rye Barcott, Donna Brazile, Johnnie Carson, Dean Falk, Sam Gejdenson, Bonnie S. Glaser, Caryn Halifax, Kathryn Hall, Karl F. Inderfurth, Lionel C. Johnson, Shanthi Kalathil, Eric Kessler, Peter Kohler, David C. Leavy, Michael McFaul, Nancy H. Rubin, Dana Shell Smith, Michael R. Steed, Maurice Templesman, Clyde C. Tuggle, Toni G. Verstandig, and Maureen White.[10] Madeleine K. Albright served as board chair until her death in 2022.[11]


The National Democratic Institute has worked in 156 countries and territories around the world and supported the efforts of 16,000 civic organizations, 925 political parties and organizations, 10,000 legislators, and 1,300 women's organizations. Furthermore, NDI has organized over 200 international election observer delegations in over 67 countries. Through its local partners, NDI has helped train and deploy 4 million election observers in 350 elections and referendums in 85 countries and has trained 600,000 party poll-watchers in more than 50 countries. It has helped partner groups organize 400 candidate debates in over 35 countries.[12][failed verification]


NDI started its activities in Chile in 1985. Its programs promoted free elections, working together with opposition leaders. In 1988, it participated in the United States campaign for the No at the Chilean national plebiscite. The United States Congress budgeted this campaign with US$1 million that the National Endowment for Democracy distributed through the NDI, the International Republican Institute, Free Trade Union Institute, and the Center for International Private Enterprise. NDI participated in organizing seminars, sending political consultants, and an election observation mission.[13][14][15]


In the 1980s, NDI participated in the broader National Endowment for Democracy programs against the Nicaraguan Revolution.[16]

Northern Ireland[edit]

In the 1980s, NDI provided support to the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland to strengthen its democratic principles.[17]

Taiwan and Hong Kong[edit]

In April 2020, NDI released the documentary “Canary in the Digital Coalmine” exploring Taiwan's civil society response to counter disinformation and misinformation amid national elections.[18][19] NDI announced the decision to open its first field office in Taiwan in October 2020 and hired former Taiwan diplomat Alfred Wu as its inaugural field director in March 2021.[20][21] Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen spoke at NDI's Celebration of Democracy gala in December 2020.[22]

NDI states it has worked with civil society partners in Hong Kong since 1997 and that it has been supporting Hong Kong's democratic development since then.[23] It published The Promise of Democratization in Hong Kong Reports 1997 - 2016 in September 2016 and Fright & Flight: Hong Kongers Face the Demise of Democracy in September 2021.[24][25]

NDI former president Derek Mitchell testified at the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Asia Subcommittee's hearing titled “Stemming a Receding Tide: Human Rights and Democratic Values in Asia” in September 2020.[26]

North Korea[edit]

NDI began collaborating with South Korean civil society organizations in 2011 to advance democratic governance in North Korea.[27]


In the 2000s, NDI worked with election monitoring organizations such as the Committee of Ukrainian Voters to provide financial and technical assistance to develop election monitoring capabilities. This monitoring played a salient role in popular uprising against electoral fraud during the Orange Revolution.[28]

United States[edit]

They are partnered with Gov2U[29] an organization acquired by Scytl.[30]


According to an article in the American socialist magazine Jacobin, after the death of Hugo Chávez, the NDI provided funding and training to the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition of opposition parties in Venezuela. The MUD used the NDI's assistance to create a voter database and target swinging voters through Facebook. In 2015, the opposition won a majority in the Venezuelan National Assembly for the first time since 1999 and the magazine states that the NDI said a "determining factor in the success of the coalition in the parliamentary elections of 2015 was a two-year effort prior to the elections to raise awareness, train and align national and regional structures of communication of all the parties that conform the MUD".[31][better source needed]


NDI receives financial support from the National Endowment for Democracy,[32] the US Agency for International Development,[33] the US Department of State,[34] and the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening.[35] The NDI also receives contributions from governments, foundations, multilateral institutions, corporations, organizations, and individuals. Some of these institutions include the Government of Australia,[36] Government of Denmark,[37] Government of Belgium[38] and the Open Society Foundations.[39]

Awards, events, and honors[edit]

  • Andi Parhamovich Fellowship: In 2007 NDI announced the establishment of the Andi Parhamovich Fellowship, named in honor of NDI staff member Andi Parhamovich, who was killed on January 17, 2007, when her convoy was attacked while returning from a political party training session in Baghdad. Each year, the fellowship brings to Washington, DC, a young woman selected from NDI local staff or partner organizations who is deeply involved in building and consolidating democracy in her own country by advancing the participation of women.[40]
  • W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award: Each year NDI hosts a dinner to recognize innovators and activists in the field of democracy. At the dinner, NDI presents the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award, which honors individuals and organizations that have exhibited a sustained commitment to democracy and human rights, and have demonstrated leadership, integrity and courage in their dedication to democratic values and practices.[41]


The socialist magazine Monthly Review stated that the terms democracy assistance, democracy building, and democracy promotion are rhetorically employed to overpower nationalist and socialist resistance to US economic and cultural domination, particularly in Russia and nearby states.[50]

The NDI provided funding to the Cambodian opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and was expelled from Cambodia in August 2017.[51][52]

In August 2020, Beijing announced sanctions over NDI and NDI president Derek Mitchell.[53] In December 2020 the Chinese government announced additional sanctions over three members of the institute, including Asia-Pacific regional director Manpreet Singh Anand.[54] NDI responded by stating that "While it remains unclear what this announcement means in practice, NDI will not waver in its commitment to support fundamental democratic principles transparently and legally across Asia and elsewhere."[55]

Richard Falk, former United Nations special rapporteur, says that NDI and IRI, although stating they are non-partisan, "are explicitly affiliated with each of the two political parties dominant in the United States" and that they are "overtly ideological in their makeup, funding base and orientation."[56]



  • Cart Without A Horse: North Korea, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development, August 25, 2021[57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ About NDI, 23 January 2017
  2. ^ Idea to Reality: NED at 25
  3. ^ NED: History
  4. ^ NDI: What We Do
  5. ^ Martin, Michael (August 31, 2023). "Why have we seen so many recent coups across West and Central Africa?". NPR. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  6. ^ FAQs Archived 2015-08-01 at the Wayback Machine at
  7. ^ "Cooperating Organisations". Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  8. ^ erodriguez (2018-06-14). "Former Ambassador Derek Mitchell Chosen as New President of NDI". Retrieved 2023-12-13.
  9. ^ wmickail (2024-01-22). "Tamara Cofman Wittes Appointed President of the National Democratic Institute". Retrieved 2024-01-23.
  10. ^ "Board of Directors | National Democratic Institute". Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved 2023-12-13.
  11. ^ "MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT (1937-2022)". 2016-09-02. Retrieved 2023-12-14.
  12. ^ "NDI". Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  13. ^ Lowenthal, Abraham F. (October 13, 1988). "Chile and the No Vote--a Bravo for U.S. Role". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Gamarekian, Barbara (November 18, 1988). "Washington Talk: Foreign Affairs; How U.S. Political Pros Get Out the Vote in Chile". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  15. ^ National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (1989). "Capítulo 1: Actividades del NDI en Chile" [Chapter 1: NDI activities in Chile]. La transición chilena hacia la democracia. El Plebiscito Presidencial de 1988 [The chilean transition to democracy. The Presidential Plebiscite of 1988] (PDF) (in Spanish). pp. 5–12.
  16. ^ Pear, Robert (April 25, 1989). "U.S. Allots $2 Million to Aid Anti-Sandinistas". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  17. ^ Clarity, James F.; Weaver, Warren (October 14, 1985). "BRIEFING; Irish Are Looking In". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  18. ^ "Canary in a digital coal mine". 2020-04-15. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  19. ^ AIT (2020-10-28). "Fact Sheet: 2020 U.S.-Taiwan Consultations on Democratic Governance in the Indo-Pacific Region and Beyond". American Institute in Taiwan. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  20. ^ "NDI Announces Plans to Open a New Office in Taiwan". 2020-10-28. Retrieved 2023-09-28.
  21. ^ cmccleskey (2021-03-08). "NDI Announces Hiring of First Resident Director in Taiwan". Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  22. ^ "President Tsai delivers address at 2020 NDI Celebration of Democracy Gala". Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  23. ^ "Hong Kong". 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  24. ^ "The Promise of Democratization in Hong Kong Reports 1997 - 2016". 2016-09-29. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  25. ^ Broderick, Sabrina (2021-09-28). "Fright & Flight: Hong Kongers Face the Demise of Democracy". Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  26. ^ "Written Testimony by Derek Mitchell, President, National Democratic Institute, U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation "Stemming a Receding Tide: Human Rights and Democratic Values in Asia"" (PDF).
  27. ^ jfrant (2016-09-30). "North Korea". Archived from the original on November 30, 2023. Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  28. ^ McFaul, Michael (May 2006). "Importing Revolution: Internal and External Factors in Ukraine's 2004 Democratic Breakthrough" (PDF). Stanford University Center on Democracy, Development, and The Rule of Law.
  29. ^ "Government To You | Gov2U | - Our Network". Archived from the original on 2011-09-20.
  30. ^ "Scytl acquires Gov2U's software division expanding its eDemocracy solutions portfolio - MarketWatch". Archived from the original on 2013-06-09.
  31. ^ Gill, Tim; Lewelling, Christian (30 October 2021). "Documents Show How the US Government Used Social Media to Intervene in Venezuela". Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  32. ^ "NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  33. ^ "U.S. Agency for International Development". Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  34. ^ "U.S. Department of State". Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  35. ^ "Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening | NDI". Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  36. ^ "". Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  37. ^ "Government and Politics-The official website of Denmark". Archived from the original on 2012-05-27. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  38. ^ "The federal government". 2014-11-24. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  39. ^ "Partners".
  40. ^ Andi Parhamovich Fellowship, 11 January 2017
  41. ^ Harriman Democracy Award, 11 January 2017
  42. ^ "NDI To Honor Archbishop Tutu, Women's League of Burma | NDI". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  43. ^ "Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf | NDI". 18 June 2008. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  44. ^ "Jimmy Carter | NDI". Archived from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  45. ^ "Václav Havel | NDI". Archived from the original on 2015-08-01. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  46. ^ "Bill Clinton | NDI". Archived from the original on 2016-03-15. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  47. ^ "Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas | NDI". Archived from the original on 2016-03-15. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  48. ^ "Aung San Suu Kyi | NDI". Archived from the original on 2016-03-15. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  49. ^ "Madeleine K. Albright, Chairman | NDI". 2 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  50. ^ The Myths of 'Democracy Assistance': U.S. Political Intervention in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe, Gerald Sussman, Monthly Review, December 2006.
  51. ^ "Cambodia's government asks the courts to abolish the opposition". The Economist. 12 October 2017.
  52. ^ "Statement on Cambodian Government's Decision to Shut Down NDI's Office in Cambodia". National Democratic Institute. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  54. ^ "China sanctions four with U.S. democracy promotion ties over Hong Kong". Reuters. 2020-11-30. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  55. ^ cmccleskey (2020-11-30). "Statement on People's Republic of China's Announcement of Sanctions Targeting NDI". Retrieved 2023-09-13.
  56. ^ "When an 'NGO' is not an NGO: Twists and turns under Egyptian skies". Al Jazeera.
  57. ^ Broderick, Sabrina (2021-08-24). "Cart Without A Horse: North Korea, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development". Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  1. ^ Officially known as the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]