News and Notes

Issue Date January 1998
Volume 9
Issue 1
Page Numbers 187-89
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Forum 2000

On September 3–6 at Prague Castle, political and intellectual leaders from around the globe met to consider the prospects for the world after the year 2000. The conference was organized by writer and professor Elie Wiesel and Czech president Václav Havel. Havel described its main focus as “the state of contemporary civilization and the threats the world faces on the threshold of a new millennium.”

The conference opened with a keynote address by Havel and included statements by such prominent figures as the Dalai Lama, Israeli Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, Russian human rights activist Sergei Kovalyov, Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, Polish historian Bronisław Geremek, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Carlos Filipe Belo of East Timor, British historian Timothy Garton Ash, Indonesian Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, and former presidents Patricio Aylwin (Chile), Oscar Arias (Costa Rica), Richard von Weizsacker (Germany), and Zhelyu Zhelev (Bulgaria). Closing addresses by Havel and Wiesel emphasized the need to promote an ethic of global responsibility.

NDI Democracy Awards

On November 5, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) presented the 1997 W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award to Senator Edward M. Kennedy; Mayor Selim Bešlagić of Tuzla, Bosnia; Mayor Zlatko Kramarić of Osijek, Croatia; and Vesna Pešić, president of the Civic Alliance of Serbia.

Established 11 years ago to honor the late diplomat and governor of New York State, the Harriman awards were presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., by NDI Chairman Paul G. Kirk, Jr., and Board member Geraldine Ferraro. [End Page 187]

USAID Conference

On October 30–31, the U.S. Agency for International Development sponsored a conference in Washington, D.C., on “Promoting Democracy, Human Rights, and Reintegration in Post-Conflict Societies.” The conference participants, who included representatives from NGOs, U.S. government agencies, and academic and policy institutions, considered “conceptual frameworks, approaches, and intervention models for programs designed to promote democracy, human rights, and reintegration in postconflict societies.” Discussions were organized around a number of broad themes including postconflict elections, war tribunals, truth commissions, international human rights monitoring, and democracy promotion strategies. Opening remarks were presented by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.

Conference on Corruption

On September 7–11, the Eighth International Anticorruption Conference brought together in Lima, Peru, over 1,000 delegates from 93 countries. The conference opened with an inaugural address by Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori. Some of the many suggestions to come out of the conference included the creation of anticorruption coalitions, tighter controls on campaign spending, and the creation of a World Anticorruption Day. The delegates endorsed the “Lima Declaration,” which calls for a number of specific anticorruption initiatives from all levels of government. The Lima Declaration can be found at the conference homepage at

Report on NED’s International Forum

On September 24, the Forum held a day-long conference in Washington, D.C., on “India’s Democracy at Fifty” that brought together over 40 Indian and American scholars and democratic leaders. In addition to opening statements by former U.S. ambassador to India Harry Barnes and India’s Deputy Chief of Mission Shyamala Cowsik, the conference included presentations on India’s political institutions by V.A. Pai Panandiker (Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi) and Ashutosh Varshney (Harvard); on India’s economy by Jaswant Singh (Member of Parliament) and Jagdish Bhagwati (Columbia); on federalism, pluralism, and civil society in India by Ashis Nandy (Center for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) and Robert Hardgrave (University of Texas, Austin); and on common problems of democratic governance facing India and the U.S. by Shankar Bajpai (Delhi Policy Group) and Nathan Glazer (Harvard). The panels were chaired by Kathy [End Page 188] Sreedhar (Holdeen India Fund), Tarun Das (Confederation of Indian Industry), Susanne Rudolph (University of Chicago), and Abid Hussain (Rajiv Gandhi Foundation). The conference also included luncheon addresses by U.S. senators Richard Lugar and Paul Sarbanes, and by M.S. Gill, chief election commissioner of India. Others who traveled from India to attend included Neerja Chowdhury (Indian Express), Muchkund Dubey (Council for Social Development), Dinesh Keskar (Boeing India), K.C. Pant (Member of Parliament), and K.P. Saksena (Center for Human Rights Education and Research).

Following the conference, NED and over 65 members of the U.S. Congress jointly hosted a reception on Capitol Hill to celebrate India’s fifty years of democracy. At the reception, Commissioner Gill accepted on behalf of his country a gift presented by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. A report summarizing the conference proceedings will be published by the Forum.

The Washington lecture series on “The Democratic Invention,” cosponsored by the Forum, the Mário Soares Foundation, and the Luso-American Development Foundation and hosted by the George Washington University, resumed this fall with lectures by Seymour Martin Lipset (on September 15), and Gertrude Himmelfarb (on October 6). On November 3, a special memorial program was presented in honor of the late François Furet, who had been scheduled to give a lecture on that date. An English version of the lecture that Furet had earlier delivered in French for a similar series in Lisbon was read by Marc F. Plattner, followed by comments by Jeane Kirkpatrick and Francis Fukuyama. (The text of Furet’s lecture appears above on pp. 65–79.) A special tribute to Furet was presented by France’s ambassador to the U.S., François Bujon de l’Estang. A lecture on “Postcommunism and Democracy in Central Europe” by Bronisław Geremek, which was to be delivered on December 8, had to be postponed due to his recent appointment as foreign minister of Poland.

The following lectures in the series are scheduled for spring 1998: On February 9, Andrea Riccardi, president of the Community of St. Egidio (Italy), will speak on “Democracy, Solidarity, and Peace”; on March 9, Moroccan writer and sociologist Fatima Mernissi will speak on “Nurturing Civil Society in the Arab World: The Case of Morocco”; on April 6, Diogo Freitas do Amaral, professor of law at the University of Lisbon and former president of the UN General Assembly, will speak on “The Portuguese Transition to Democracy”; and on May 4, Jean Daniel, editor of Le nouvel observateur (France), will speak on “Nation and Democracy.” The series will resume again in the fall of 1998, and the lectures will subsequently be published in an edited volume.


Copyright © 1998 National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University Press