Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, December 23, 2013

Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, December 23, 2013

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Fadil Aliriza profiles Tunisian rapper Klay BBJ, the man with a unique ability to touch a society’s raw nerves.

Brian Klaas explains why allegations of a power-grab by Tunisia’s toppled dictator continue to haunt the country’s democratic transition.

In the latest of his dispatches from the West African republic of Mali, Christian Caryl watches parliamentary elections in the legendary city of Timbuktu and reflects on the problems democracy faces there.

Elliott Prasse-Freeman argues that Burma’s upcoming census will worsen ethnic conflict.

Christia Fotini and Ruben Enikolopov present the findings of an MIT study that shows why democracy-building efforts in post 9-11 Afghanistan may have had the opposite of their intended effect.

Peter Murrell worries that corruption studies rely too heavily on the honesty of those reporting the data.

James A. Robinson tracks the Democratic Republic of Congo’s efforts to cure corruption.

And Anna Nemtsova examines Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sudden decision to release an ex-tycoon from prison.

And now for this week’s recommended reads:

In the Financial Times, Abigail Fielding-Smith presents an overview of the situation in Syria, where an end to the civil war looks less likely by the day.

In a study from the Legatum Institute’s Transitions forum, Mark Dempsy explains why Libya should focus on reforming its financial sector if it hopes to build democracy.

In the National Review, George Weigel tells the story of the only Catholic university in the former Soviet Union, and why its students and faculty are now fighting to bring Ukraine into the European orbit.

The Atlantic Council compiles the most significant moments of the Arab Spring transitions in an interactive timeline.

The International Center for Transitional Justice reports on Tunisia’s new transition law — a significant achievement that will help the country address past human rights abuses.

The Transnational Institute and Burma Centrum Nederland argues that Burma’s transitional government has not done enough to address the rights of the country’s ethnic minorities — and that time is running out.

The Global Organizations of Parliamentarians Against Corruption finds that perpetrators of "grand corruption" are rarely brought to justice, and suggests measures to address the problem.

Writing for Forbes, Grant Tudor, of the social entrepreneurship organization Ashoka, explains how NGOs are wielding technology to force governments to pay attention to their marginalized citizens.

Transparency International releases its annual Corruption Index, ranking countries according to perceived levels of corruption.

(The photo above shows two victims of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.)