President Bush speaks at 20th Anniversary of the NED
On November 6, the National Endowment for Democracy celebrated its 20th anniversary at a Washington event keynoted by U.S. president George W. Bush. In his widely discussed speech, President Bush hailed recent decades that have seen “the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500-year story of democracy,” and observed that “it is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world’s most influential nation was itself a democracy.”
Criticizing “60 years of Western nations excusing and accom-modating the lack of freedom in the Middle East,” Bush placed the reconstruction of Iraq in the tradition of U.S. “military and moral” commitments to safeguarding democracy in postwar Europe and resisting communist tyranny there and elsewhere through the long decades of the Cold War. The time has come, he said, to put U.S. power “at the service of principle” and adopt “a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East.”
The event also featured addresses by leading legislators—Senators Evan Bayh (D.-Ind.) and Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.), as well as Representatives Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.) and Chris Cox (R.-Calif.). NED chairman Vin Weber offered opening remarks, while closing thoughts came from NED president Carl Gershman. The speakers recounted the reasons for NED’s creation, its pursuit of its mission over the past two decades, and its presence as a supporting player in nearly every major democratic transition during that time.
Gershman hailed “people with the courage to fight for democracy. . . . [who] exist all over the world. . . . in the most unlikely places, within cultures far removed from what we call the West.” These committed democrats, he continued, “know there are no shortcuts to democracy or any easy answers. But they persist in their struggle, and they deserve our help.” [End Page 187]
The Quality of Democracy
Leading democracy scholars from all over the world convened at Stanford University on October 10-11 for a workshop entitled “The Quality of Democracy: Improvement or Subversion?” organized by the university’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). The conference considered five dimensions of the quality of democracy: rule of law, accountability, responsiveness, freedom, and equality. These themes were then applied in six comparative case-study papers, covering Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, and Africa.
Lead organizers of the workshop were Larry Diamond, coordinator of CDDRL’s program on democracy, and Leonardo Morlino of the University of Florence, Italy. Participants included Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, G. Bingham Powell, David Beetham, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Rafael López-Pintor, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Frances Hagopian, Yun-han Chu, Doh Chull Shin, Sumit Ganguly, Robert Mattes, and E. Gyimah-Boadi.
Democracy in Latin America
On November 18, the Inter-American Dialogue, a center for policy analysis on Western Hemisphere affairs, convened a confer-ence in Washington, D.C., on “Democracy and Leadership in Latin America.” The first panel addressed the questions, “What is stifling democratic politics? What challenges do elected leaders face?” Chaired by Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, it featured Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; Jorge Quiroga, former president of Bolivia; Denise Dresser, professor at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México; and Moises Naím, editor of Foreign Policy. The second panel, chaired by Michael Shifter, took the form of an interview with Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa by Jessica Tuchman Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment. For further information see www.iadialogue.org.
Afghan Women’s Bill of Rights
At the third annual conference of Women for Afghan Women (WAW), entitled “Women and the Constitution,” 45 women leaders from all over Afghanistan drafted and signed the Afghan Women’s Bill of Rights. The conference, held in Kandahar on September 2-5, was organized in partnership with the Afghan Women’s Network and Afghans for Civil Society. The Bill of Rights was created entirely by the participants, with each right debated and its wording unanimously agreed upon before inclusion in the document. It was then presented to President Hamid Karzai, Minister of Women’s Affairs Habiba Surabi, and the country’s Constitutional Commission. Conference participants also distributed the Bill of Rights throughout the country to educate communities about wom-en’s rights and human rights generally. Upon the release of [End Page 188] Afghanistan’s draft constitution in early November, WAW expressed concern that the document is too weak in affirming women’s rights. For more information, go to www.womenforafghanwomen.org.
OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held its Human Dimension Implementation Meeting on October 6-17 in Warsaw, Poland. The meeting was the eighth of its kind organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. With 790 participants—including 280 representatives of 208 NGOs—it was the world’s largest-ever regional human rights conference. The first week of the meeting focused on reviewing the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments in all 55 participating states; working sessions focused on such themes as democratic institutions, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. The second week was devoted to discussing the implementation, refinement, and development of OSCE commitments.
The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting is the OSCE’s most important annual human rights event. It scrutinizes the human rights records of all participating states, provides a forum for NGOs to participate on an equal footing with governments, and develops recommendations on what countries can do to improve the implementation of their OSCE commitments.
The fifth International Conference on New and Restored Democracies (ICNRD), entitled “Democracy, Good Governance and Civil Society,” was held on September 10-12 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Organized by the government of Mongolia in collaboration with the United Nations, the conference gathered more than 400 representatives from 119 countries. This was the fifth ICNRD held since 1988 as a forum to build consensus around universal values of democracy and human rights and to promote translation of these norms into policies and action. More information is available at www.icnrd5-mongolia.mn.
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Launched
With the first meeting of its Board of Trustees and Supervisory Board, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) formally came into being on June 17. A project initiated by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2002, the TFD has a dual mission: Domestically, it strives to help consolidate Taiwan’s democracy and fortify its commitment to human rights; internationally, the Foundation hopes to become a strong link in the international democratic network, joining forces with related organizations around the world. Along with project grant opportunities, TFD also offers four Taipei-based fellowships: a postdoctoral research fellowship, a dissertation fellowship, a graduate fellowship, and an international visiting [End Page 189] fellowship. For more information, visit www.tfd.org.tw.
Defender of Democracy Award
The Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party, Chee Soon Juan, was recently awarded the Defender of Democracy award by Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) for his lifelong commitment to promoting democracy in his country. Chee, a neurophysiologist by training, accepted the award on September 16 at the PGA’s 25th Annual Parliamentary Forum. Past recipients of the award include former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, and former Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi.
Report on NED’s International Forum
This fall the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program welcomed nine new 2003-2004 fellows from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Pakistan, Romania/USA, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda.
An October 30 luncheon event featured a presentation by Visiting Fellow Adotei Akwei (Ghana), entitled “How to be a Good Dictator: A Human Rights Activist Reflects on Authoritarian Rule in Africa.” Akwei is senior advocacy director for Africa at Amnesty International USA, and is working on a satirical book about governance and repression in Africa.
On November 12, Visiting Fellow Michael Allen (United Kingdom) gave a presentation entitled “Can Nike Be Nice? The Anti-Sweatshop Movement and the Politics of Corporate Social Responsibility.” Allen has worked as director of external affairs at the Global Alliance for Workers and Communities.
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Vladimir Tismaneanu (Romania/USA) and Paul McCarthy, NED senior program officer for Southeastern Europe, spoke at a December 11 event entitled “Stalinism for All Seasons?” which highlighted the recent publication of Tismaneanu’s book of the same title. A professor of government and director of the Center for the Study of Post-Communist Societies at the University of Maryland, College Park, Tismaneanu is working on a new book that examines the impact of political personalities and their ideological preferences on party formation in Romania.
Scheduled for December 15 was an event entitled “The Recent Elections in the Caucasus: Regional and International Implications.” It was to feature Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Shahin Abbasov, deputy editor-in-chief of the Baku-based independent daily Echo, speaking on the October elections in Azerbaijan; Fellow Anahit Bayandur, a leading human rights activist and former member of the Armenian parliament, discussing recent political developments in Armenia; and Charles Fairbanks, professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, commenting on the political upheaval in Georgia, where he recently served as an election monitor.
Copyright © 2004 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press