Georges Fauriol, vice president of programs at the National Endowment for Democracy, discussed the importance of establishing a democratic government in Haiti and other countries during a public forum at UCF.

Fauriol spoke to nearly 75 people at his presentation, which was organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office as a feature of the Haiti Speaker Series. He also presented at events in the community.

Fauriol’s speech focused on the elections in Haiti and political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. According to Fauriol, the United States has a great stake in the successes of transitions in Haiti, North Africa and the Middle East.

Fauriol said that, objectively, all democratic transitions have a chance of success if they follow the necessary steps, such as having open and fair elections, making sure electoral laws are crafted to encourage inclusiveness and ensuring the laws are administered with transparency.

Most importantly, he said, democratic transitions have the greatest likelihood of success when free and fair elections become routine, allowing people to develop a trust in them.

Fauriol said political reforms alone are not enough to make democracy work.

Economics play a key role, and democracy has to deliver, or else people become disillusioned, he said. In some circumstances, that means demonstrating in the streets and risking lives to generate change, similar to what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa.

For Haiti, Fauriol said, the challenge is that each political event seems to trigger another political crisis. The country demonstrates that failed transitions can create conditions of instability, and, coupled with the nation’s bad luck with natural disasters, severely hamper Haiti’s economic and governmental development.

However, the candidates in Haiti’s most recent election represent a break from the past, a change that Haiti hasn’t seen in more than 27 years, Fauriol said. With a focus on the future, the candidates pledged reconstruction, reform and development.

In addition to Global Perspectives Office, sponsors and partners included UCF Task Force H.O.P.E.; the UCF Haitian Studies Project; the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program; the UCF Political Science Department; the UCF Diplomacy Program; the UCF Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies Program; The Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship Program; the UCF International Services Center; UCF LIFE; the Orlando Rotary Club; and the Global Connections Foundation.