Kampala Geopolitics Conference

Happily, Ever After? The aftermath of revolutions and uprisings

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What makes a revolution successful? More importantly maybe: What would make it desirable? History shows that sometimes what seems to be desirable at a certain point in time – and is therefore welcomed as it happens – may soon appear in a different light. When resistance and civil disobedience lead to a defeat of the old order – or at least appear to do so – the euphoria knows few limits. But once the “honeymoon” is over this euphoria may easily turn into a sense of disappointment or disillusionment. Recently, we have seen numerous examples of more or less successful popular uprisings. Zimbabwe, for instance, is Africa’s latest example. Likewise, the Arab spring, the Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and the current situation in Venezuela have lifted up the hopes of many to witness change and democratic transition. What now of all these auspicious-looking revolutions that punish governments for their broken promises? In the past 50 years, only about a third of revolutions have turned dictatorships into democracies. Many revolutions remain unfinished, others backfire into a revival of the old order. And some even fuel the worst fears by leading into chaos, anarchy and protracted periods of conflict. So what makes a revolution successful? And what is desirable about it after all? Revolution or gradual reforms: what works for a successful transformation?

Meet the Panelists