News and Notes

Issue Date January 2003
Volume 14
Issue 1
Page Numbers 187-89
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World Democrats Meet in Seoul

On November 10-12, two major gatherings were held in Seoul. Governmental delegations from 145 countries convened for the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies (CD), entitled “Democracy: Investing for Peace and Prosperity.” Initiated in 1999, the CD is a forum for sharing experiences and formulating an agenda for international cooperation. The principal outcome of the meeting was the adoption of the Seoul Plan of Action, which specifies the actions the CD should take to promote and defend democracy. For the full text, visit The conference also adopted a “Statement on Terrorism,” which is excerpted above on p. 186.

A parallel nongovernmental forum brought together 300 democracy activists, practitioners, supporters, and experts. Among the many prominent speakers were former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Speaker of the Korean National Assembly Kwan Yong Park, and former foreign minister of Poland Bronis~aw Geremek. For more information, see

In conjunction with the Seoul meetings, the Democracy Coalition Project released the report, “Defending Democracy: A Global Survey of Foreign Policy Trends, 1992-2002.”The survey found that, when the defense of democratic norms clashed with economic, military, or other national interests, states tend to diminish their support for democratic forces. For more information, see

Another report put forward at the Seoul meeting was from a task force led by Madeleine Albright and Bronis~aw Geremek, and sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. The report contains a series of recommendations for more effective action to deter or respond to unconstitutional interruptions of democratic processes. For more information, see [End Page 187]

The Retrial of Saad Eddin Ibrahim

In early December, Egypt’s highest appeal court ordered a retrial for Egyptian-American sociologist and prodemocracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, overturning his conviction for tarnishing Egypt’s image with his writings on democracy and human rights. Ibrahim is the head of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and was first arrested in 2000, ostensibly on charges of treason, forgery, and receiving foreign funding without government approval. He was sentenced to seven years in prison on 21 May 2001, a verdict that was confirmed by Egypt’s State Security Court on 29 July 2002. A third and final trial on the same charges was scheduled to begin on January 7. For more information on the case, see his “A Reply to My Accusers” in the Journal‘s October 2000 issue, and “Documents on Democracy” in the October 2002 issue.

NED Democracy Service Medal

On September 25, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) awarded its Democracy Service Medal to Taiwan’s First Lady Chen-Wu Sue-jen for her personal contribution to democracy in Taiwan. Mrs. Chen was paralyzed from the waist down in 1985 as a result of a suspicious road accident during a post-campaign tour with her husband, and subsequently ran for and served in the legislature when her husband was imprisoned for opposing the Nationalist government. In accepting the medal, she pledged that Taiwan would soon establish its own democracy-promotion foundation.

Cuban Awarded Civil Courage Prize

On October 8, the Northcote Parkinson Fund awarded its Civil Courage Prize to Cuban dissident Vladimiro Roca Antunez. Roca was imprisoned for five years following his coauthorship of the opposition document “My Homeland Belongs to All” and was released on 5 May 2002. Roca is the third recipient of the annual Prize, awarded for “steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk.”

Tokyo Democracy Symposium

On November 13-14, 140 government officials, parliamentarians, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations met in Tokyo for a symposium entitled “Enlightened Post-Cold War Initiative for Peace-Building and Democracy: Enhancing the Role of the Parliament and NGOs.” Participants included House of Representatives speaker Tamisuke Watanuki, House of Councilors President Hiroyuki Kurata, Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama, former prime minister Tsutomu Hata, as well as leading members of six major political parties, and representatives of leading democracy-assistance foundations from Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the [End Page 188] United States. The meeting focused on advancing the roles of the Japanese parliament (the Diet) and NGOs in diplomacy and democracy promotion, and discussed the possibilities of establishing a democracy-assistance foundation in Japan. The symposium was hosted by the Committee to Aid Democracy for Peace-Building, the Diet League to Aid Democracy for Peace-Building, and the Ozaki Yukio Memorial Foundation. The NED participated in the organization of the symposium, and helped support it with a grant from the U.S.-Japan Foundation.

Report on NED’s International Forum

On September 25, the International Forum cosponsored with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars a conference on “Liberal Islam.” The discussion considered the nature of liberal Islam, its relative support, and future prospects. Presenters and commentators included Abdou Filali-Ansary, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations, U.K.; Laith Kubba, National Endowment for Democracy; Radwan A. Masmoudi, Center of the Study of Islam and Democracy; Ridwan Al-Sayyid, University of Beirut, Lebanon; Morad Saghafi, Goft-o-goo quarterly journal, Iran; Nurcholish Madjid, University Paramadina, Indonesia; and Abdelwahab El-Affendi, Center for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, U.K.

Nine of the 2002-2003 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows have arrived from Belarus, Egypt, the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Mongolia, Poland, South Africa, and the United States. Two fellows have already held seminars presenting their research: On November 21, Tolekan Ismailova held a presentation entitled “The Prospects of Democracy in the Kyrgyz Republic: Assessing the Impact of 9/11.” Ms. Ismailova is founding president of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society in Bishkek and will, upon her return, direct the newly created Forum of Civil Leaders. During her fellowship, she is considering strategies for civic activists and political leaders to promote democratic development in Kyrgyzstan. On December 16, Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour was scheduled to speak on “The Roots of Democracy in Islam.” Dr. Mansour has taught Islamic history at Cairo’s Al Azhar University and has served as a consultant to the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. During his fellowship, he is developing his ideas on constitutional reform in Egypt.

On September 23, the Forum sponsored a presentation by Luis Moreno Ocampo, president of Transparency International for Latin America and the Caribbean, entitled “Are National Institutions Still Representing the People? Lessons of the Montesinos/Fujimori Case for Latin America and Beyond.” And on November 25, the Forum hosted a seminar, “The Debate on Islam and Democracy: Lessons from the Turkish Elections,” with a presentation by Andrew Finkel, a former correspondent for Time magazine, The Times of London, CNN, The Economist, and the Daily Telegraph, and comments by Zeyno Baran, fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


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