News and Notes

Issue Date January 2009
Volume 20
Issue 1
Page Numbers 188-90
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Fifth Annual Lipset Lecture

Jean Bethke Elshtain, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, delivered the fifth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on November 12. The lecture was also given at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto on November 6. An article based on the lecture, which was entitled “Religion and Democracy: Allies or Antagonists?” will be published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Democracy.

ACHPR Endorses Defending Civil Society Report

At its 44th ordinary session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), along with delegates to its Forum on the Participation of NGOs, endorsed the World Movement for Democracy’s Defending Civil Society report on November 8. The report, coauthored by the World Movement for Democracy secretariat and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), highlights the legal challenges facing civil society and human rights defenders around the world. For further information on the report, see .

Sakharov Prize Awarded to Chinese Activist

The European Parliament awarded its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia. Currently in prison for “subversion,” he has been a leading human rights activist in China, fighting on behalf of environmental protection, AIDS patients, and other activists who have been arrested or abused. The EU gave Hu the award despite a letter from Song Zhe, the Chinese ambassador to the European [End Page 188] Union, warning that relations between Beijing and the EU would be damaged.

Forum 2000 Foundation Conference

The Forum 2000 Foundation organized a conference in Prague entitled “Openness and Fundamentalism in the 21st Century” on October 12–14. Panels covered a wide range of topics including business and the economy, religion and faith, and the environment, as well as questions more directly related to human rights and democracy. Speakers included former Czech president Václav Havel, Czech minister of foreign affairs Karel Schwarzenberg, Garry Kasparov (Russia), Alyaksandar Milinkevich (Belarus), Rama Yade (France), former president Vicente Fox (Mexico), Mikhail Kasyanov (Russia), André Glucksmann (France), Adam Michnik (Poland), Adam Roberts (U.K.), and Ashis Nandy (India). For further information, see .

Conference on EU Role in Democracy Building

On November 16, International IDEA, CONCORD Europe, and the European Partnership for Democracy organized a roundtable in Strasbourg on the EU’s role in democracy building. This meeting was part of a larger global initiative on “Democracy in Development” launched by International IDEA and sponsored by the Swedish government in connection with its assumption of the EU presidency in the second half of 2009. The goal is to consult with regional organizations, NGOs, think tanks, and academics in order to deepen understanding of EU policies and actions in support of democracy.

Taiwan Foundation for Democracy 2008 Award

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy announced that Sima Samar was the winner of its 2008 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award. She is the founder of the Shuhada Organization, which provides Afghan women and children with medical care and educational opportunities, and chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. The award recognizes individuals or organizations that have promoted democratic development or advocated human rights through peaceful means in Asia. Samar was scheduled to receive the award in Taipei on December 10, the 60th International Human Rights Day.

Report on NED’s International Forum

On September 22, the Forum held a panel discussion on “The State of Democracy in Latin America,” to mark the publication of Latin America’s Struggle for Democracy, a new Journal of Democracy book, edited [End Page 189] by Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Diego Abente-Brun. The editors were joined on the panel by Cynthia McClintock of George Washington University, Arturo Valenzuela of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, and Carlos de la Torre (FLACSO-Ecuador), currently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

A second launch for Latin America’s Struggle for Democracy was hosted by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) in New York City on November 17. In addition to editors Marc F. Plattner and Diego Abente-Brun, the participants included three contributors to the book: Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at AS/COA, Jorge G. Castañeda, former Mexican foreign minister and Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, and María Victoria Murillo, associate professor of political science at Columbia University.

On November 14, the Forum hosted a panel discussion to celebrate the publication of How People View Democracy, a Journal of Democracy book edited by Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner. Speakers at the event, entitled “Public Opinion and Democracy: What Africans, Asians, and Arabs Think,” included Yun-han Chu, distinguished fellow of the Institute of Political Science at the Academia Sinica (Taiwan) and director of the Asian Barometer; Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University; Mark Tessler, Samuel J. Eldersveld Professor at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and director of the Arab Barometer; and the editors.

In October, the Forum welcomed a group of new Reagan-Fascell fellows: Suvash Darnal (Nepal), Rajesh Dev (India), Lt.-Col. Birame Diop (Senegal), Frederic Loua (Guinea), Ihor Lylo (Ukraine), and Sharon L. Wolchik (United States). Dieter Dettke (Germany) is in residence as a visiting fellow.

The Forum also hosted several meetings this autumn featuring Reagan-Fascell Fellows.

On September 19, shortly before the completion of his fellowship, Atef Al-Saadaway, managing editor of the Democracy Review Quarterly in Cairo, gave a presentation entitled “Promoting Democracy in the Arab World: New Ideas for U.S. Policy.” Larry Diamond and Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace commented.

On November 19, Suvash Darnal, founding chair of the Jagaran Media Center, a nongovernmental organization working to promote Dalit rights in Nepal through research and activism, gave a briefing entitled “Dalit Rights in the New Nepal.”

On December 11, Lt.-Col. Birame Diop, an air force pilot and a technical advisor to the Ministry of Defense in Senegal, led a working group entitled “Reforming Africa’s Armed Forces: Five Reasons Why Action Is Needed Now.” The focus of this first of two meetings was on why civil-military relations on the African continent have been so problematic. [End Page 190]