Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, April 27, 2012

Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, April 27, 2012

We already know that drones are powerful weapons. In "Predators for Peace," Jack C. Chow depicts a not-too-distant future in which airborne robots can be used to boost humanitarian relief efforts and good governance.

As governments cut back on foreign assistance budgets, Peter Passell makes the case for a smarter approach to development aid.

Alina Rocha Menocal, noting that Latin America still suffers from gross inequality, sees the answers in sound public policy.

Obama’s proposed Atrocities Prevention Board has noble ambitions, but Christian Caryl has reason to doubt that it will actually work.

Juan Nagel shows how Twitter is now one of the few remaining places in Venezuela where a semblance of political dialogue still takes place.

Endy Bayuni explains the significance of Indonesia’s latest political sex scandal.

Jackee Budesta Batanda is optimistic about the future of Uganda’s tech entrepreneurs.

And Mohamed El Dahshan reports on a bookish protest in Tunisia.

And here are this week’s recommended reads:

In a piece for The National Interest, Christopher Layne argues that we are witnessing a fundamental shift in the global balance of power from West to East — and that we have yet to face the consequences.

Writing for Global Observatory, Peter Bastrow notes that governments around the world are stepping up efforts to combat international organized crime. (The photo above shows forensic experts in Mexico examining the body of a victim of drug violence.)

Reporters Without Borders has released its annual report charting press freedom around the world. Meanwhile, Ethiopian bloggers are rebelling against increasing internet censorship, while an Internet provider in Thailand has taken to court to fight back against charges of lèse-majesté.

The International Crisis Group offers a detailed overview of the current political mess in Egypt. The NGO Burma Partnership provides a handy analysis of the challenges facing President Thein Sein on the path ahead. offers a panel discussion on Russia’s strategy of extending diplomatic recognition to post-Soviet breakaway states, which it sees as a mechanism for shoring up authoritarianism at home.

Basharat Peer bemoans India’s ability to undercut itself in his new piece for Foreign Affairs.

And finally, a fascinating study by Thomas Kwasi Tieku for the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) reveals how providing ample creature comforts to the delegates at peace negotiations can undermine the process of "getting to yes."