Keynote roundtable: Can foreign policy of democratic states arrest the global decline of democracy?

The Assembly room at The Exchange - 3 Centenary Square
Tuesday 4 June 2024 (18:15-20:30)

Manoel Gehrke

We are pleased to be hosting a keynote roundtable as part of the BISA (British International Studies Association) 2024 Conference.

In the 1990s the foreign policy of many democratic states included an explicit commitment towards democracy promotion. This commitment is far less clear today, and critical analysis questions the extent to which Western “donors” ever truly prioritised democracy over other goals such as trade relations, security alliances and geo-strategic concerns. Recent research has also identified a number of ways – some intentional, some inadvertent – in which the “everyday engagement” of democratic states actively entrenches authoritarian regimes (Cheeseman and Desrosiers 2023). This panel asks what the connection is between foreign policy and global democratic decline, what considerations – both domestic and international – shape that foreign policy, and what needs to change for foreign policy to more effectively arrest the global decline of democracy.


  • Anthony Smith (CEO, Westminster Foundation for Democracy)
  • Dame Melinda Simmons (former British Ambassador to Ukraine, FCDO)
  • Kate Whyte (Head of Governance Profession at FCDO); Professor Catherine O’Regan (University of Oxford)

All speakers TBC.

Chair: Nic Cheeseman (CEDAR and International Development Department, University of Birmingham).

This is a free event, all are welcome. There will be a reception before the lecture begins: 6.15-7pm.
Places are limited so early online registration is advisable and necessary.

Sponsors: CEDAR and University of Birmingham