R.Bruce McColm is the founder and President of Global Initiative for Democracy. He has been active in human rights and democracy programs for the past 36 years. Currently, he is the President of the Institute for Democratic Strategies in Alexandria, Virginia, which he created 17 years ago.
Mr. McColm worked for 12 years at Freedom House, the human rights organization, and served as its Executive Director for 6 years. While there, he was the coordinator of that organization’s well-known Freedom in the World, its comparative survey of political rights and civil liberties for every country. During the late 1980s, he was active in supporting the democratic revolutions in Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. He provided assistance to the Vaclav Havel’s Velvet Revolution in the then-Czechoslovakia, Solidarity in Poland and the democratic revolution in Hungary.
In 1983, he was elected to serve as the American representative at the OAS’ Inter-American Human Rights Commission. He participated in several on-site missions to investigate the disappearances in Guatemala, the conditions of political prisoners in El Salvador, and the suppression of the democratic opposition in Suriname. His dissenting vote on the issue of licensing of journalists was finally upheld by a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
In 1987, Mr. McColm served as the minority consultant to the U.S. Senate’s Committee to Monitor the Central American Peace Accords.
In the mid-1990s, Mr. McColm was elected as President of the International Republican Institute, a pro-democracy organization which has programs in every region of the world. While there, Mr. McColm introduced information technology strategies for democratization.
At the Institute for Democratic Strategies (IDS) he developed programs for election monitoring in Africa, created local human rights organizations and assisted in developing the programs for USAID’s programs for post-apartheid South Africa. He also worked with the Polisario in the Western Sahara and facilitated the writing of their constitution and bill of human rights.
Mr. McColm has published extensively. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times Sunday Magazine and other publications.
Mr. McColm has observed over six dozen elections around the world.