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International Republican Institute

International Republican Institute
Abbreviation IRI
Motto Advancing Democracy Worldwide
Formation 1983
Headquarters Washington, DC,
United States
Mark Green
$78m (2008)[1]
400 (2008)[1]

Founded in 1983, the International Republican Institute (IRI) "is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide by helping political parties to become more issue-based and responsive, assisting citizens to participate in government planning, and working to increase the role of marginalized groups in the political process – including women and youth." [2]

Initially known as the National Republican Institute for International Affairs, the IRI's stated mission is to "expand freedom throughout the world". Its activities include teaching and assisting center-right political party and candidate development in their values, good governance practices, civil society development, civic education, women’s and youth leadership development, electoral reform and election monitoring, and political expression in closed societies. It has been chaired by Arizona Senator John McCain since January 1993.[1][3]

IRI has dramatically increased its efforts to bring institutional structure to Arab countries whose social and political fabric was frayed by the Arab Spring.[4] IRI controversially was helping organize Haitian workers and farmers in Haiti prior to the Egypt during and after the Arab Spring.[7]


  • Background 1
  • Partner organisations 2
  • Activities 3
    • Latin America and Caribbean 3.1
      • 2004 Haitian coup 3.1.1
      • Cuba 3.1.2
      • 2009 Honduran coup d'état 3.1.3
    • Europe 3.2
      • Poland 3.2.1
    • Middle East 3.3
  • IRI personnel 4
    • Board of Directors 4.1
    • Officers 4.2
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


The IRI is a non-partisan organization founded in 1983 after U.S. President Ronald Reagan's 1982 speech before the British Parliament in Westminster in which he proposed a broad objective of helping countries build the infrastructure of democracy. Quoting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he stated: "we must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings."[8]

The Westminster speech led to the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy by Congress in 1983. The endowment is a mechanism to channel congressional funds to the IRI and three other institutes: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, and the Center for International Private Enterprise. These organizations provide technical assistance to political bodies worldwide.

The majority of the IRI's funding comes from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. State Department, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

At first, IRI focused on democratic institutions and processes in Latin America but has expanded its focus worldwide since the end of the Cold War. IRI has conducted programs in more than 100 countries and is currently active in 70 countries.

The IRI operates as a political organization abroad, providing training and assistance to favoured political parties. As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, it plays no part in domestic U.S. politics. However, the majority of its board, staff and consultants are drawn from the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, draws mainly from the Democratic Party.

In 1995 IRI established the Freedom Award "to honor individuals who have worked to advance freedom and democracy in their countries and around the world"[10]

Partner organisations

IRI works with the following organizations:

In Europe, IRI has established a partnership with the European People's Party (EPP).


Latin America and Caribbean

It has pursued a nominally neutral agenda, which puts emphasis on promoting the involvement of Indigenous people in the electoral process.

2004 Haitian coup

The IRI is accused of training some of the leaders of the 2004 Haitian coup d'état, as well as funding Farmer's groups in the country in an opposition campaign in the months leading up the removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide by a coalition of Canada, the US and France.

The IRI received funding for the Haiti project from USAID for two years (late 2002-2004).[12][13] IRI ended all programming in Haiti in summer 2007.[14]

The now defunct website was displaying the IRI logo together with the title "Haiti Get Involved!"[15] from about 2003 until mid-2005, and to be offering news, analysis, reports, documents and training manuals as well as information on the upcoming election and a list of political parties.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television premiered a documentary film about the IRI's role in the coup, Haiti: Democracy Undone, on 29 January 2006.[5]

Freedom of Information Act documents show that the IRI was involved in training and supporting pro-coup opposition parties[16]

IRI was accused by former US Ambassador Brian Dean Curran of undermining his efforts to hold peaceful negotiations between Aristide and his opposition after contested senatorial elections in 2000. According to Curran, Stanley Lucas, then IRI's representative in Haiti, advised opposition leaders not to compromise with Aristide, who would soon be driven from power. Curran also alleged that Lucas represented himself to the opposition as the true envoy of Washington, and his advice—which was contrary to that of the State Department—as advice from the American government.[17] IRI responded to Ambassador Curran's allegations in a letter to the New York Times, stating:

"'Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos' (front page, Jan. 29) found support for some of former Ambassador Brian Dean Curran's charges among only a few Haitians, most of them former associates of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. All have obvious motivation to impugn the International Republican Institute's work, and none presented any evidence to back their accusations." [18]

  • International Republican Institute official site

External links

  • Bollen, Kenneth; Paxton, Pamela; Morishima, Rumi (June 2005). "Assessing international evaluations: An example from USAID’s Democracy and Governance Programs" (pdf). American Journal of Evaluation 26 (2): 189–203.  

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c New York Times, 28 July 2008, Democracy Group Gives Donors Access to McCain
  2. ^ [2], loaded on October 10, 2015.
  3. ^ CounterPunch, 9 July 2009, Otto Reich and the International Republican Institute: Honduran Destablization, Inc.
  4. ^ ,9 July 2009
  5. ^ a b "CBC News: Correspondent - Haiti: Democracy Undone".  
  6. ^ a b c "IRI in Poland". Archived from the original on 2005-10-15. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  7. ^ a b,-Mubaraks,-not-April--.aspx|Ahramonline Report shows that Salafists, Mubaraks, not April 6 Youth Movement, receive millions in foreign funding
  8. ^ "United States Support of Human Rights and Democracy". Hearing before the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights, of the Committee on International Relations House of Representatives, One hundred eighth congress, Second session July 7, 2004, Serial No. 108–133. 2004-07-07. p. 105. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  9. ^ International Relations Center, loaded 14 April 2007
  10. ^ "Freedom Award". International Republican Institute. 
  11. ^ . Government of Canada Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "IRI Haiti Program Frequently Asked Questions". IRI. Archived from the original on 2006-08-09. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  13. ^ "IRI in Haiti". IRI. Archived from the original on 2006-08-09. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  14. ^ IRI FAQs - July 2008
  15. ^, 28 Jan 2005, December 2005
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Walt Bogdanich and Jenny Nordberg, "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos", New York Times, 29 Jan. 2006 retrieved 28 July 2007.
  18. ^ Letter The New York Times Refused to Print Responding to "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos" February 2006
  19. ^  
  20. ^  
  21. ^ National Endowment for Democracy - Latin America Regional Annual Report
  22. ^  
  23. ^ Official list of members of IRI's Board of Directors
  24. ^ IRI Leadership


See also


IRI's current president, Mark Green, assumed leadership in February 2014. Its former president, Lorne Craner, assumed leadership on August 2, 2004. From 2001 to 2004, Craner served as Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the US State Department.

IRI personnel

A ministry of justice's report on foreign funding of NGOs in Egypt has revealed that IRI in Egypt has received funding of about 7 million dollars by USAID for the upcoming Egyptian 2011-12 elections. The military rulers who gained control of the country following the January 2011 revolution consider this foreign funding interference in internal affairs.[7]

"The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.

"A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.” [22]

According to an April 2011 New York Times article, the IRI, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and other groups were credited for training activists in the Middle East, specifically Egypt and Tunisia, who were advocating for reform in authoritarian regimes.

Middle East

IRI initiated a post-election program that emphasized media and communications training for Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek's chancellory and cabinet.

The IRI claims credit for having united and organised a diverse range of "center and center right-wing" political parties together to create the advertising campaign for the Polish government in order to stop the AWS splitting up over internal tensions:[6]



The IRI has been accused of supporting the 2009 Honduran coup d'état. The IRI refuses to term the event as such and rather euphemistically calls it a "constitutional crisis". The IRI received $550,000 from the National Endowment for Democracy in 2009 in order to "promote and enhance the participation of think tanks in Mexico and Honduras as 'pressure groups' to impel political parties to develop concrete positions on key issues", and to "support initiatives to implement political positions during the campaigns in 2009" following the coup.[21]

2009 Honduran coup d'état

The Cuban government accuses former Congressional staffer Caleb McCarry of orchestrating the 2004 Haitian coup and attempting to provoke a coup d'état in Cuba.[19] An anonymous State Department source told a journalist that the funds McCarry allegedly used in Haiti came from the IRI.[20]



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