News and Notes

Issue Date October 2003
Volume 14
Issue 4
Page Numbers 187-90
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NED Democracy Awards

At a July 16 ceremony on Capitol Hill, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)  presented its annual Democracy Award to four advocates for human rights in North Korea: Benjamin Yoon, founder of the Seoul-based Citizen’s Alliance for North Korean Human Rights; and Sun Ok Lee, An Hyuk, and Chul Hwan Kang, survivors of the North Korean gulag. The honorees work to focus world attention on the human rights crisis in North Korea, expose the country’s prison-labor system, and assist North Korean refugees who have fled persecution and starvation. The awards were presented by U.S. senator Sam Brownback.

The ceremony was preceded by a conference entitled “Gulag, Famine, and Refugees: The Urgent Human Rights Crisis in North Korea,” which was cosponsored by the Defense Forum Foundation and the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. The keynote speakers were Senator Jon Kyl and Andrew Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. A roundtable on the North Korean refugee crisis was moderated by Congressman Ed Royce and Baroness Cox of Britain’s House of Lords. It included members of the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights and Congressmen Joseph Pitts, Eliot Engel, and Curt Weldon. A panel discussion on documenting the North Korean gulag featured Debra Liang-Fenton and David Hawk of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History; and Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the UN.

For more information on this event, please visit

Vietnamese Dissident Sentenced

In an August 26 appeal trial, the Hanoi Supreme Court reduced Vietnamese dissident and journalist [End Page 187] Pham Hong Son’s sentence on espionage charges from 13 to five years in prison (followed by three years of house arrest upon release). The initial sentence, handed down in a half-day closed trial held on June 18, was one of the harshest verdicts to be imposed on a journalist anywhere in the world in recent years.

The April 10 indictment of Son states that he “became a follower of the action plan to take advantage of freedom and democracy to advocate pluralism and a multiparty system in order to oppose the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” A medical doctor by training, Son was arrested by police on 27 March 2002 and detained until the time of his trial; he stood accused of translating and circulating documents promoting democracy and human rights through email and the Internet. Son had translated an article entitled “What Is Democracy?” available on the U.S. State Department website (, and sent it to friends and senior Vietnamese officials. He was also charged with writing articles in Vietnamese advocating pluralism, democracy, and a multiparty system, which were posted on democracy-promotion forums on the Internet.

Son’s wife was denied the right to visit her husband and allowed to attend the trials only as a testifying witness. Diplomats from the United States, Canada, Australia, and several European states were prevented from sending observers despite having previously registered requests to attend. Journalists were also barred from the trial.

New Publication on Democracy in the Caucasus

A new journal dedicated to fostering public dialogue about democracy in the Caucasus, entitled Pomegranate: Democracy & Diversity in the Caucasus, recently published its pilot issue. Pomegranate will focus on issues of democracy building and serve as both a platform for organizations or individuals to share information on their democracy-promotion activities and as a forum for experts and activists to address current conceptual and policy-related debates. Pomegranate is supported by International IDEA and can be accessed through its web site at

Public Opinion Workshop

On July 21-22, the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University’s Institute for International Studies sponsored a workshop on “How People View Democracy: Public Opinion in New Democracies.” Representatives of the four continental democracy barometers—the New Europe Barometer, the Afrobarometer, the Latinobarometer, and the East Asia Barometer—presented overviews of their surveys and findings. Speakers included Richard Rose and William Mishler on regime change and mass support in Bosnia; Michael Bratton, E. Gyimah-Boadi, and Robert Mattes on “Learning About Democracy in Africa”; Marta [End Page 188] Lagos on Latin America; Doh Shin on Korea; and Yun-han Chu on comparing attitudes and values of eight East Asian publics.

Four papers also analyzed the findings from the World Values Study, with data from 80 societies worldwide. Ronald Inglehart reassessed mass support for democracy; Russell J. Dalton analyzed political values in East Asia; Pippa Norris assessed the “clash of civilizations” thesis; and Mark Tessler probed the interaction between Islamic orientations and democracy in the Middle East. For more information on the conference, contact Larry Diamond at; for more information on CDDRL visit its website at

Liberal Democracy Conference

“New Challenges to Liberal Democracy in a Global World” was the theme of the eleventh International Annual Meeting in Political Studies, sponsored by the Institute for Political Studies (IEP) of the Portuguese Catholic University. Held on June 30-July 5 in Cascais, the conference featured an address by Portugal’s prime minister, José Manuel Dur~ao Barroso.

Other speakers included Abdou Filali-Ansary, editor of Prologues: Revue maghrébine du livre, on “Muslims and Democracy”; William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, on “U.S. Foreign Policy Today”; Anthony O’Hear, editor of Philosophy, the journal of Britain’s Royal Institute of Philosophy, on “Britain, the European Union, and the U.S.”; and Marc Plattner, coeditor of the Journal of Democracy, on “Globalization, Sovereignty, and Democracy.”

Evaluating Democracy in South Asia

The inaugural workshop of the “State of Democracy in South Asia” project took place in Kathmandu, Nepal on June 13-15. Organized by the New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, the workshop brought together democracy researchers and academics from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as representatives of several international organizations. The “State of Democracy in South Asia” is a 30-month-long research project that aims to publish a public report comprising surveys of popular opinion of democracy and government, case studies of marginalized and underprivileged sectors of society, and dialogues with leaders of political and nongovernmental bodies.

Report on NED’s International Forum

In recent months, the Forum hosted a number of luncheon seminars featuring presentations by Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. On June 18, Olga Gyárfášová spoke on “Slovakia’s Road to Democratic Consolidation: A Pollster’s Perspective.” A senior research fellow and program director at the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava, Gyárfášová directs projects on social and [End Page 189] political issues. She is also coauthor of Slovak Elections 2002: Results, Implications, Context and A Country in Motion: Report on Political Views and Values of the Slovak People.

On June 25, Mustafa Erdoğan gave a presentation entitled “Do Constitutional Courts Matter? Judicial Review and Democratic Consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe.” Erdoğan is professor of political theory at Hacettepe University in Ankara and co-founder of the Association for Liberal Thinking, a Turkish NGO promoting liberty, human rights, and the rule of law.

On July 8, Herbert Boh spoke on “Strengthening Democracy in Africa: The Role of the Media.” Boh is a leading Cameroonian journalist in print and broadcast media and has worked for the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa for the past four years.

Luz María Helguero gave a talk on “Promoting Democracy Through the Media in Peru” at a July 17 luncheon. The publisher and former editor-in-chief of the Peruvian newspaper El Tiempo, Helguero is an activist in civic organizations promoting transparency, citizenship, and freedom of information.

On July 24, Schu Sugawara spoke at a presentation entitled “Is Japan a Successful Democracy? A Japanese Journalist Looks Back at the Impact of the U.S. Occupation.” Sugawara is general secretary of the Committee to Aid Democracy for Peace-Building, a Japanese NGO that works to build parliamentary and public support for democracy promotion around the world.

Finally, in September the Johns Hopkins University Press released a new Journal of Democracy book, Islam and Democracy in the Middle East, edited by Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Daniel Brumberg. A formal launching event on September 12, cosponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, featured a panel with Thomas L. Friedman, foreign-affairs columnist for the New York Times; Adel Abdellatif, regional coordinator for the program on governance at the Regional Bureau for the Arab States of the UNDP; and Gilles Kepel, professor at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris and senior researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research.


Due to an editorial error, Laith Kubba’s essay entitled “What Is Liberal Islam? Faith and Modernity” in our April 2003 issue inadvertently misidentified the hijra—the journey led by Mohammed from Mecca to Medina to found the first Islamic umma (community) in 622 C.E.—as the hajj. The hajj is the sacred pilgrimage to Mecca which all Muslims are enjoined to make at least once in their lives, if possible.

Due to an editorial error in Pierre du Toit’s article entitled “Why Post-Settlement Settlements?” in our July 2003 issue, the date of the African National Congress’s march on Bisho is incorrectly given as 2002, rather than 1992. The Journal of Democracy regrets these errors.


Copyright © 2003 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press