News and Notes

Issue Date January 2020
Volume 31
Issue 1
Page Numbers 222-224
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Thirtieth Anniversary of Polish Democracy

On November 13, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) hosted an event entitled “Honoring the 30th Anniversary of Poland’s Democratic Breakthrough” at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing room. The event particularly celebrated the legacy of former president of Poland and leader of the Solidarity trade union Lech Wałęsa. U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch (RID) and U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) gave remarks. Other speakers included U.S. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Andy Harris (R-MD), along with former U.S. representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Leszek Balcerowicz, former Polish deputy prime minister; Ambassador Daniel Fried of the Atlantic Council; and Carl Gershman, president of NED.

On November 14, NED hosted an event on “Democracy in Central Europe After Thirty Years.” Wałęsa and Balcerowicz gave keynote addresses. The event also included a panel discussion on “Defending Democracy in Poland and Central Europe” featuring historian Anne Applebaum; Victoria Nuland, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe; Czech activist Simon Panek, chairman of People in Need; and George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, biographer of Pope John Paul II.

Forum 2000 Conference

On October 13–15, the twenty-third annual Forum 2000 Conference was held in Prague on the topic “Recovering the Promise of 1989.” Maia Sandu, then prime minister of Moldova, gave the introductory address, which is excerpted in “Documents on Democracy” on pp. 216–18.

Other speakers included Peter Pomerantsev of the London School of Economics; Carl Gershman, president of NED; Ralf [End Page 222] Fuecks, cofounder of the Center for Liberal Modernity in Berlin; Xiao Qiang, founder of the China Digital Times; Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza; Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration; and Lech Wa³êsa, former Solidarity leader and Polish president.

For more information, see

Sixteenth Annual Lipset Lecture

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi delivered the sixteenth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on November 4 and at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto on November 6. Mungiu-Pippidi chairs the European Research Centre for Anticorruption and State-Building at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and founded the anticorruption organization Coalition for a Clean Romania.

Mungiu-Pippidi’s lecture was entitled “The Rise and Fall of ‘Good Governance’ Promotion.” An article based on the lecture appears on pp. 88–102 above. For a video recording of the Washington lecture, visit

Awards to Ilham Tohti

On December 18, the European Parliament was scheduled to award its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Uyghur human-rights defender Ilham Tohti. An economics professor and researcher of Uyghur-Han relations, Tohti was known for his activism on regional-autonomy laws in China. Tohti was arrested in 2014 and charged with separatism. He was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment. On September 20, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe had awarded its Václav Havel Human Rights Prize to Tohti, who shared the award with the Balkan Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

Vladimir Bukovsky (1942–2019)

On October 27 Russian dissident and author Vladimir Bukovsky died in Cambridge, England, at age 76. Bukovsky spent a total of twelve years in Soviet prisons, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals between 1963 and 1976. During that time he became well known for his activism on behalf of political prisoners and for publicizing the Soviet practice of committing dissidents to psychiatric institutions. In 1976 the United States facilitated his release in exchange for Chilean communist leader Luis Corvalán. Bukovsky went on to publish multiple books, including his memoir To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter. [End Page 223]

Reporters Without Borders Prize

On September 12, Reporters Without Borders awarded its Press Freedom Prize for Impact to Vietnamese journalist Pham Doan Trang. Trang is the editor of the online human-rights magazine The Vietnamese, and founder of the online magazine Luat Khoa. Trang has been repeatedly beaten and imprisoned for her activism. Trinh Huu Long, Trang’s coeditor at Luat Khoa, accepted the award on her behalf when travel restrictions prevented Trang from attending the ceremony in Berlin. Speaking via video, Trang said, “We will fight until journalism is no longer seen as a crime anywhere in the world.”

NED’s International Forum

On September 27, the Forum hosted a workshop, in conjunction with the Scholars at Risk Network, entitled “Deepening University Engagement in Support of Democracy Advocates at Risk.” The workshop, which brought together more than thirty participants representing higher education, the NGO sector, and the donor community, focused on how to expand university opportunities for democracy advocates, journalists, and other practitioners facing political persecution in their home countries. Special attention was given to the practical steps needed to host practitioners at risk on campus as nontraditional scholars.

In the fall, the Forum welcomed a new group of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows: Dolgion Aldar (Mongolia), Catherine Kanabahita (Uganda), Jamil Hasanli (Azerbaijan), Marvi Sirmed (Pakistan), Viktoriya Tyuleneva (Kazakhstan), and Pedro Villarreal (Colombia).

On November 7, the Forum hosted a discussion entitled, “The Future of Liberal Democracy: A European Perspective” with Ralf Fuecks, cofounder and managing director of the Center for Liberal Modernity in Berlin. Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and Marc Plattner, coeditor of the Journal of Democracy, offered comments, and NED president Carl Gershman moderated.

On December 10, the Forum hosted a discussion on “Strengthening Human Rights Through Youth Engagement: Views from Mongolia, Uganda, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Colombia” with Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Dolgion Aldar, Catherine Kanabahita, Marvi Sirmed, Viktoriya Tyuleneva, and Pedro Villarreal. Zerxes Spencer of NED moderated.

The Forum’s “Power 3.0” podcast featured interviews with Marietje Schaake on “Democracy and the Tech Revolution”; Peter Pomerantsev on “Disinformation in the Global Arena”; Tutu Alicante on “Countering Kleptocracy from the Inside Out”; Sam Gregory on “Demystifying Deepfakes”; and Miranda Patrucic on “Investigating Transnational Kleptocracy.” [End Page 224]