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The Other Side of the Berlin Wall

November 6, 2014
William C. Hubbard

When the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989 — 25 years ago — liberal democracy appeared triumphant over authoritarianism, and the West poured resources into Eastern Europe to speed what seemed an inevitable process toward democratization and the development of market economies.

The road to reform was difficult, with such major obstacles along the way as the Balkan conflicts. For the most part, though, progress remained the pervasive narrative, marked not only by successive states joining NATO, the Council of Europe and the European Union, but also by the promising colour revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Democracy also started to gain a foothold in other regions, from Brazil to Indonesia, and the Arab Spring brought hope that the Middle East would follow suit.

The American Bar Association proudly joined these reform efforts, launching its Rule of Law Initiative and marshaling scores of volunteer lawyers to advise on new laws and constitutions in Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

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