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Democracy and Human Rights vs. Authoritarianism Around the World | Foreign Policy in Practice Series

April 21, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm CDT

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs (@ChiCouncilFP) and Associated Colleges of the Midwest (@ACMedu) have joined together for a yearlong series on Foreign Policy in Practice.

Ukraine today represents the frontline of a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. How much should the US prioritize democracy and human rights promotion abroad? How can the US and its democratic allies help bolster democratic movements around the world without fostering instability? What foreign policy tools are available to help shore up democracy and human rights? And how does our foreign policy at times boost authoritarian regimes instead? Join our panel of experts who have worked on the front lines of US foreign policy on these very issues to hear about practical solutions and real challenges in promoting these values in our engagements around the world, and why these issues matter to Americans here at home. 



  • Kristine Berzina, Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracies  
  • Steve Feldstein, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, previously Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. State Department
  • Marti Flacks, Khosravi Chair in Principled Internationalism and Director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), previously Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council
  • Elizabeth Shackelford, Senior Fellow, US Foreign Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former U.S. foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department

About the Panelists

Kristine Berzina

Kristine Berzina is a senior fellow and head of the geopolitics team at the Alliance for Securing Democracy in GMF’s Washington, D.C. office. Berzina works on building transatlantic cooperation to counter authoritarian interference in democracies. In this role she focuses on U.S.–EU relations, NATO, digital technology, disinformation, and energy topics. Berzina appears frequently in international media, including the Financial Times, the BBC, NPR, Deutsche Welle, Euronews, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. 

Prior to joining GMF, Berzina worked on energy security, transatlantic cooperation, and climate change and security in Brussels and Berlin. A native of Latvia, Berzina grew up in the United States. She received her master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge and her bachelor’s in political science and history from Yale University. Berzina is a native speaker of English and Latvian, has worked in German, and has a basic knowledge of Russian and French. 

Steve Feldstein, School of Public Service, SPS, faculty/staff, studio portrait, photo by Priscilla Grover
Photo Credit: Priscilla Grover

Steve Feldstein

Steven Feldstein is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program where he focuses on issues of technology and democracy, human rights, and U.S. foreign policy. Previously, he was the holder of the Frank and Bethine Church Chair of Public Affairs and an associate professor at Boise State University. 

He served as a deputy assistant secretary in the democracy, human rights, and labor bureau in the U.S. Department of State as an appointee under President Obama, where he had responsibility for Africa policy, international labor affairs, and international religious freedom. He also served as the director of policy at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He previously worked as counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations under Chairmen Joseph Biden and John Kerry. 

Feldstein’s articles and essays have appeared in American Purpose, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Journal of Democracy, Just Security, MIT Technology Review, The Conversation, The National Interest, War on the Rocks, The Washington Post, and World Politics Review. He received his B.A. from Princeton and his J.D. from Berkeley Law. 

He is the author of The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance (Oxford University Press, 2021). 

Marti Flacks 

Marti Flacks is the Khosravi Chair in Principled Internationalism and Director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The initiative seeks to bring innovative thinking and a multidisciplinary approach to tackle pressing global human rights challenges and better integrate human rights across foreign policy priorities. Ms. Flacks spent more than a decade in the U.S. government, most recently serving at the National Security Council (NSC) as director of African affairs from 2015 to 17, where she coordinated U.S. policy across East and Southern Africa and on continent-wide trade and economic issues.  

Prior to the NSC, Ms. Flacks spent three years as deputy director of the Office of Energy Programs at the U.S. State Department, leading the department’s work on energy transparency and good governance, and four years working for the U.S. special envoy for Sudan on implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the independence of South Sudan. She joined the U.S. government through the Presidential Management Fellows program at the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to joining CSIS, Ms. Flacks served as deputy director & head of the North America office at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, a human rights organization focused on the role of business in respecting human rights. Ms. Flacks received a BS in foreign service from Georgetown University, a master’s degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a JD from Columbia Law School. She is originally from Solon, Ohio.  

Elizabeth Shackelford  

Elizabeth Shackelford is a senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She was a career diplomat with the US Department of State until December 2017, when she resigned in protest of the Trump administration. Her resignation letter was the first to draw widespread attention to the declining state of diplomacy under Donald Trump. As a Foreign Service Officer, Shackelford served in Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, Poland, and Washington, D.C. For her work in South Sudan during the outbreak of civil war in 2013, she received the Barbara Watson Award for Consular Excellence, the Department’s highest honor for consular work. Shackelford is the author of The Dissent Channel: American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age, winner of the 2020 Douglas Dillon Book Award. Shackelford’s op-eds and commentary have been published in numerous outlets including Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Slate. Shackelford has a BA from Duke University and a JD from the University of Pittsburgh. 


April 21, 2022
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm CDT
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