News and Notes

Issue Date October 2013
Volume 24
Issue 4
Page Numbers 185-187
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

NED Democracy Awards

On July 17, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Awards at an event entitled “Our Democratic Future: The Role of Youth in Advancing Democracy.” The four recipients were Zimbabwe’s Glanis Changachirere, 30; Pakistan’s Gulalai Ismail, 26; Russia’s Vera Kichanova, 22; and (posthumously) Cuba’s Harold Cepero (1980–2012).

Rosa María Payá, daughter of Cuban democracy activist Oswaldo Payá, accepted the award on behalf of Cepero, who died along with her father in a suspicious car crash for which many have blamed the Cuban government. Cepero, an active member of Oswaldo Payá’s Christian Liberation Movement, was expelled from his university after his participation in the Varela Project, which collected more than 25,000 signatures in support of a referendum on human rights and democracy in Cuba.

Both Changachirere and Ismail founded organizations—the Institute for Young Women’s Development and Aware Girls, respectively—to encourage the political participation of women in their home countries. Kichanova, a journalist arrested multiple times for participating in street protests, was elected as a deputy in the Yuzhnoye Tushino district council in Moscow in March 2012 at the age of twenty.

U.S. senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) spoke at the event. NED president Carl Gershman gave the closing remarks.

Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941–2013)

On August 11, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the Divinity School and professor of political science [End Page 185] at the University of Chicago, died of a heart condition. She served on the NED board from 2003 to 2011.

During her four-decade career in academia, she wrote and lectured widely on democracy, citizenship, gender, religion, culture, and war. In 2002, Elshtain received the Frank J. Goodnow Award for Distinguished Service, the highest honor bestowed by the American Political Science Association.

In 2008, she delivered the fifth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World under the title “Religion and Democracy.” Her lecture appeared in the April 2009 issue of the Journal. She had contributed two previous articles to the Journal: “Women, Equality, and the Family” (January 2000) and “A Quarter-Century of Promoting Democracy” (October 2007).

Beginning in 2010, the University of Chicago honored her by organizing a four-part conference entitled, “Jean Bethke Elshtain: The Engaged Mind.” The final session of the conference will take place on October 17–18.

During the second session of the conference, held in October 2011 under the title “Democracy on Trial: Religion, Civil Society, and Democratic Theory,” NED awarded her its Democracy Service Medal. Delivering a tribute at the time, NED president Carl Gershman praised Elshtain’s ability not only to explain the principles that democracy requires but also “to embrace and identify with people engaged in real democratic struggles.” In an obituary in the The New Republic, William Galston of the Brookings Institution wrote that Elshtain’s “greatest passion was democracy,” and called her “an important voice stilled too soon.” Elshtain leaves behind a body of work that includes more than twenty books and six-hundred essays.

Mexican Electoral Body Honored

On September 24, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems was scheduled to award its international 2013 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award to Leonardo Valdés Zurita, president of Mexico’s independent election commission, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE).

In addition to overseeing recent improvements in Mexico’s electoral system, the IFE under Valdés’s leadership has taken on a role as a regional leader in electoral administration. In 2010–12, the IFE cohosted an annual Latin American Democracy Forum.


There were several factual errors in the October 2011 essay “Singapore: Authoritarian but Newly Competitive,” by Stephan Ortmann: The opposition’s biggest victory was in 1984, not 1991, and the arrest of a group of Catholic activists came in 1987, not 1986 (p. 155); the SDP’s slate of candidates [End Page 186] did not include Michael Fernandez and Vincent Cheng (p. 157); and only one SMC (and no GRC) saw a three-way contest (p. 158). The editors regret the errors.

NED’s International Forum

On June 20, the Forum hosted a lecture by Mondher Ben Ayed, president and CEO of TMI, a Tunisian technology firm, and advisor to former prime minister Hamadi Jebali. It was the second in a series entitled “The Role of Economics in Democratic Transitions,” a joint initiative of the Forum, the London-based Legatum Institute, World Affairs, and Democracy Lab. Journal coeditor Larry Diamond served as moderator.

On July 16, visiting fellow Joseph Tucker, former negotiations-team leader in the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, gave a talk entitled “Political Parties, Nation-Building, and Democracy in South Sudan.”

On September 19, the Forum was scheduled to host a conference entitled “Reconsidering Democratic Transitions,” the culmination of a monthly series that compared the “Arab Spring” cases in North Africa with the “color revolutions” in the post-Soviet region. The event consisted of two panels: The first included regional experts Alexander Cooley (Barnard College), Matthew Kaminski (Wall Street Journal), and Nadia Diuk and Laith Kubba of NED. The second, which featured remarks by Francis Fukuyama and Larry Diamond of Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law and Donald L. Horowitz of Duke University, addressed broader issues relating to the applicability of the transition paradigm.

The Forum also hosted several luncheon meetings this summer featuring Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows:

On June 26, Abdulrazaq Alkali, executive director of the Nigerian organization Youth Society for the Prevention of Infectious Disease and Social Vices, gave a talk entitled “Strengthening Youth Participation in Nigeria.” Dave Peterson of NED commented.

On June 27, Burmese activist Nang Lao Liang Won delivered a talk entitled “Can Democracy Work for Women in Burma?” Brian Joseph of NED offered comments.

On July 11, Nadira Eshmatova, cofounder and executive director of the Kyrgyzstan-based Youth Human Rights Group gave a talk entitled “Democracy and Reconciliation in Kyrgyzstan: A Case for the Mobilization of Youth.” Maria Lisitsyna of the Open Society Justice Initiative offered comments.

This fall, the Forum welcomed a new group of Reagan-Fascell Fellows: Jitman Basnet (Nepal), Myo Aung Htwe (Burma), Sergii Leshchenko (Ukraine), Charles Mangongera (Zimbabwe), former visiting fellow Matar Ebrahim Matar (Bahrain), Shahid Nadeem (Pakistan), A.K.M. Nasim (Bangladesh), and Cheikh Oumar Touré (Senegal). [End Page 187]