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IRI logo

Founded in 1983, the International Republican Institute (IRI) is an organization, funded by United States government, that conducts international political programs, sometimes labeled 'democratization programs'.[1]

Initially known as the National Republican Institute for International Affairs, the IRI's stated mission is to expand what it interprets as freedom throughout the world. Its activities include teaching and assisting with political party and candidate development, good governance practices, civil society development, civic education, women’s and youth leadership development, electoral reform and election monitoring, and political expression in closed societies. It is chaired by Senator John McCain;[2] notable board members include Paul Bremer, Brent Scowcroft and Chuck Hagel.



The International Republican Institute (IRI) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 1983 after President Ronald Reagan's 1982 speech before the British Parliament in Westminster in which he proposed a broad objective of helping countries build the infrastructure of democracy. Quoting the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he stated: "we must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings."[3]

The Westminster speech led to the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy by Congress in 1983. The endowment is a mechanism to channel congressional funds to the International Republican Institute and three other institutes: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, and the Center for International Private Enterprise. These organizations provide technical assistance to political bodies worldwide.

The majority of the IRI's funding comes from the National Endowment for Democracy.

At first, IRI focused on democratic institutions and processes in Latin America but has expanded its focus worldwide since the end of the Cold War. IRI has conducted programs in more than 100 countries and is currently active in 70 countries.

The IRI operates as a political organization abroad, providing training and assistance to political parties. As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, it plays no part in domestic U.S. politics. However, the majority of its board, staff and consultants are drawn from the Republican Party,[1] just as its sister organization, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, draws from the Democratic Party.

Partner organisations

IRI works with the following organizations:

In Europe, IRI has established a partnership with the European People's Party (EPP).

Involvement in Haiti

The IRI is accused of training some of the leaders of the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti, as well as funding opposition groups in the country in a destabilization campaign in the months leading up the removal of democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by a coalition of Canada, the US and France. Aristide was replaced with an unelected government which has been in power since that time.

The Cuban government accuses former Congressional staffer Caleb McCarry of orchestrating the coup and attempting to do the same in Cuba[4]; an anonymous State Department source told a journalist that the funds McCarry allegedly used in Haiti came from the IRI.[5]

The IRI received funding for the Haiti project from USAID for two years (late 2002-2004) and continues the project with oversight from USAID[6][7]

The now defunct web site was displaying the IRI logo together with the title "Haiti Get Involved!" from about 2003 until mid 2005, and to be offering news, analyses, reports, documents and training manuals as well as information on the upcoming election and a list of political parties.

CBC television premiered a documentary film about the IRI's role in the coup, Haiti: Democracy Undone, on 29 January 2006.[8]

FOIA documents show that the IRI was involved in training and supporting pro-coup opposition parties. See

IRI was accused by former American ambassador Brian Dean Curran of undermining his efforts to hold peaceful negotiations between Aristide and his opposition after contested senatorial elections in 2000. According to Curran, Stanley Lucas, then IRI's representative in Haiti, advised opposition leaders not to compromise with Aristide, who would soon be driven from power. Curran also alleged that Lucas represented himself to the opposition as the true envoy of Washington, and his advice—which was contrary to that of the State Department—as advice from the American government.[9]

Otto J. Reich, who was the State Department's top official on Latin America under Colin Powell, described a change in American policy toward Haiti with the arrival of the Bush administration. According to Reich, Aristide fell somewhat out of favor with the change of American executive, though Powell continued to publicly profess U.S. support for the democratically elected leader. Curran's allegations were corroborated by Luigi R. Einaudi of the Organization of American States.[10]

[Stanley] Lucas was also simultaneously running IRI's Haiti program, which had been financing activities to seek removal of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. USAID funded IRI to the tune of more than $3 million from 1998-2003 to destabilize Haiti under the guise of 'promoting democracy', the usual term put forth by such programs. Lucas, wealthy and Haitian-born, was hired by IRI in 1992 to run their Haiti sessions for Aristide's most virulent opponents. IRI's millions and Lucas's genius applied the US intervention model formerly used in Nicaragua: unification of opposition parties.

In Haiti, IRI crafted and built the 'Democratic Convergence', a group of disparate opposition parties, social organizations, and groups in the country. The Democratic Convergence was elemental in provoking the ongoing tension and violence in the nation, eventually leading to the illegal and violent overthrow of President Aristide. IRI's role was beyond pivotal.


2009 Honduran constitutional crisis

The IRI received about $1.2 million from the National Endowment for Democracy in 2009 in order to support think tanks and Lobby groups opposing the president Manuel Zelaya such as the Unión Cívica Democrática, and to "support initiatives to implement political positions during the campaigns in 2009" followind the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis. [12][13]

Creation of right-wing political parties

The IRI claims credit for having united and organised a diverse range of "center and center right-wing" political parties together to create the Akcja Wyborcza Solidarność (AWS), which was in government in Poland, together with its coalition partner the Unia Wolnosci (UW) party, from 1997 to 2001. It claims having provided training in political campaigning, communications training and research which helped organise and create the AWS. It also claims that once the AWS was in government, it organised an advertising campaign for the Polish government in order to stop the AWS splitting up over internal tensions:

IRI initiated a post-election program that emphasized media and communications training for Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek's chancellory and cabinet.


IRI personnel

IRI's president, Lorne Craner, assumed leadership on August 2, 2004. From 2001 to 2004, Craner served as Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the US State Department. Craner previously served as IRI's president from 1995 to 2001.


Board of Directors


  • Lorne Craner, President
  • Judy Van Rest, Executive Vice President
  • Georges A. Fauriol, Senior Vice President
  • Thomas E. Garrett, Vice President for Programs
  • Harold W. Collamer, Chief Operations Officer
  • Sonya Vekstein, Chief Financial Officer
  • Thomas Barba, General Counsel


IRI maintains offices around the world and conducts programs in Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burma, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, East Timor, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somaliland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela, West Bank and Gaza, and Zimbabwe.


  1. ^ a b International Relations Center, loaded 14 April 2007
  2. ^ Counterpunch, 9 July 2009, Otto Reich and the International Republican Institute: Honduran Destablization, Inc.
  3. ^ "United States Support of Human Rights and Democracy". Hearing before the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights, of the Committee on International Relations House of Representatives, One hundred eighth congress, Second session July 7 2004, Serial No. 108–133. 2004-07-07. p. 105. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  4. ^ Jean-Guy Allard (2005-10-28). "Bush’s man for Cuba author of the Haitian disaster". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  5. ^ Max Blumenthal (2004-07-16). "The Other Regime Change". Global Policy Forum. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  6. ^ "IRI Haiti Program Frequently Asked Questions". IRI. Archived from the original on 2006-08-09. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  7. ^ "IRI in Haiti". IRI. Archived from the original on 2006-08-09. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  8. ^ "CBC News: Correspondent - Haiti: Democracy Undone". CBC News. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  9. ^ Walt Bogdanich and Jenny Nordberg, "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos", New York Times, 29 Jan. 2006 retrieved 28 July 2007.
  10. ^ Walt Bogdanich and Jenny Nordberg, "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos", New York Times, 29 Jan. 2006 retrieved 28 July 2007.
  11. ^ Eva Golinger. The Chávez Code - Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela, chapter 4.
  12. ^ Washington behind the Honduras coup: Here is the evidence on "Global"
  13. ^ Dominguez, Francisco (2009). "US Support is Propping Up Honduran Military Coup". London Progressive Journal (79). 
  14. ^ "IRI in Poland". Archived from the original on 2005-10-15. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 

External links


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