News and Notes

Issue Date April 2016
Volume 27
Issue 2
Page Numbers 185-88
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Geneva Summit on Human Rights

On February 23, the independent watchdog group UN Watch organized the eighth annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. The Summit, sponsored by an international coalition of 25 human-rights NGOs, was held on the eve of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main annual session. The event brought together hundreds of dissidents, human-rights activists, diplomats, and journalists from countries including China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, to shed light on urgent human-rights situations around the globe.

The conference included the presentation of the annual Courage Award to two jailed Venezuelan opposition leaders—Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo López. Ledezma served as mayor of Caracas until his arrest last year, and López, imprisoned two years ago on trumped-up charges, is a leading figure within the opposition.

Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, and Jan İlhan Kizilhan, a German psychologist, were honored with the prestigious International Women’s Rights Award. The award recognized Dakhil and Kizilhan for their courageous work to rescue Yazidi and other women enslaved, assaulted, and sexually abused in Syria and Iraq by ISIS.

The Summit also featured a keynote address by Nobel laureate David Trimble, member of the British House of Lords and former first minister of Northern Ireland, who highlighted the lack of international scrutiny of countries such as China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, all of which have dismal human-rights records yet are members of the UN’s Human Rights Council. For videos and summaries of the speeches, visit

Human Rights in North Korea

On February 19, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, [End Page 185] the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and NED held a full-day conference on “North Korea: The Human Condition and Security Nexus.” The event commemorated the two-year anniversary of the UN Commission of Inquiry report on human rights in North Korea. The conference included panels on the link between human and national security, accountability for human-rights abuses, and policy prospects regarding North Korea.

Participants included Sonja Biserko, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia; Signe Poulsen, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul; Robert King, special envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues at the U.S. Department of State; and NED president Carl Gershman. The event concluded with the inaugural Fred Iklé Memorial Lecture, delivered by Michael Kirby, former justice of the Australian High Court, who chaired the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea. For videos of the event, visit

Democratic Governance in Latin America

On February 25–26, Forum 2000 (Prague) and the Arias Foundation cosponsored a conference in San José, Costa Rica, to examine democratic deficiencies in Latin America. Featured speakers included Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias, former Bolivian president Jorge Quiroga Ramírez, former Spanish prime minister Felipe González, former Mexican secretary of foreign affairs Jorge Castañeda, former secretary-general of the Chilean presidency John Biehl del Río, and former Puerto Rican governor Sila María Calderón.

Transparency in Angola

On February 18, NED sponsored an event titled “Perspectives on Transparency, Human Rights, and Civil Society in Angola,” featuring leading journalist and democracy advocate Rafael Marques de Morais, director of the website Maka Angola. Marques shed light on what he called Angola’s “transparency of looting,” its deepening political repression, and possible scenarios for the future. To read his full remarks, visit

Comments were offered by Angolan ambassador Antonio Luvualu de Carvalho and Todd Haskell, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. Ambassador Princeton Lyman of the United States Institute of Peace chaired the discussion.

African Female Leaders Honored

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, the [End Page 186] AllAfrica Global Media Group, owner of the AllAfrica online news website, presented its Female Leadership Prize to four courageous African women at a ceremony in Dakar.

The recipients of the award included Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected as head of an African country; Irene Koki Mutungi of Kenya, the first African female flight captain; Angélique Kidjo, a Beninese singer and activist; and the economic interest group GIE Xaritou Xaleyii, in recognition of its promotion of Senegalese handicrafts.

The event was organized around the theme “Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls in Africa,” and was part of a series of events held around the world to commemorate International Women’s Day.


The January 2016 issue of the Journal of Democracy mistakenly included an outdated version of the masthead, listing the Journal’s Editorial Board and staff. The correct version of the masthead is the same as it has been since the April 2015 issue. This mistake has been corrected in the online version of the January 2016 issue.

“The EuroMaidan and Beyond: Who Were the Protesters?” by Olga Onuch, which appeared in the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Democracy, reported on p. 49 an incorrect figure (26 percent) for the share of survey respondents among EuroMaidan protesters who had recalled voting for Viktor Yanukovych and Yanukovych-aligned candidates and parties in 2004, 2010, or 2012 Ukrainian elections. The correct figure is 2.6 percent. The editors regret the error.

International Forum

On December 11, the Forum hosted a roundtable discussion on “Bosnia’s Problematic Democracy: An Assessment and Possible Remedy.” The event, featuring remarks by Nenad Stojanovic of the University of Lucerne and comments by Donald Horowitz of Duke University, examined problems presented by different political arrangements in ethnically divided countries.

On January 20, the Forum organized an event titled “Will the Internet of Things Enhance Democracy or Empower Autocrats?” featuring Philip Howard, professor at the University of Washington and Oxford University. The event celebrated the publication of Howard’s new book Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up.

On March 1, the Forum organized a discussion on “The Hollowing Out of Democracy: Hungary and Beyond,” featuring remarks by former Hungarian government minister Bálint Magyar of the Financial Research Institute (Budapest). Arch Puddington of Freedom House offered comments. The event celebrated the [End Page 187] publication of Magyar’s new book Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungary, which explores the recent erosion of democracy in Hungary and elsewhere in the region.

The Forum also hosted several events featuring Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. On December 9, Shad Begum (Pakistan), founding director of the Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), delivered a presentation entitled “Women’s Resilience and Resolve in Northwest Pakistan: Championing Change in the Face of Extremism.”

On January 14, Lamii Kpargoi, officer in charge of the Liberia Media Center, gave a talk on “Freedom of Information as a Catalyst for Liberia’s Democratic Growth.” Gemima Barlow of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) offered comments.

On February 9, Tilak Pathak (Nepal), op-ed editor and analyst at Kantipur Daily in Kathmandu, delivered a presentation on “Consolidating Democracy in Nepal Through Transparent Campaign Finance”; NDI’s Ivan Doherty provided comments.

On February 10, Indian journalist Manoj Mitta, who served as senior editor at the Times of India and the Indian Express, gave a talk entitled “Untouchable India: Impunity for Caste Violence.”

On February 16, the Forum hosted a screening of “The Trials of Spring” featuring visiting fellow Hend Nafea, an Egyptian women’s rights advocate who served most recently as manager of the Human Rights Defenders Program at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (Cairo). Her presentation was followed by comments from Gini Reticker, the film’s director. Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace chaired the event.

On February 18, sociologist Gabor Demszky, former lord mayor of Budapest, delivered a presentation on “Roma Exclusion: A European Democratic Deficit,” followed by comments by Nadezhda Mouzykina of NDI.

In early 2016, the Forum welcomed its Spring 2016 cohort of Reagan-Fascell Fellows, including Izzah Inzamliyah (Indonesia), Henry Hale (United States), and Nyaradzo Mashayamombe (Zimbabwe).

Also in residence are Visiting Fellows Hend Nafea (Egypt) and Elie Smith (Cameroon), as well as Hurford Youth Fellows Goma Devi Bastola (Nepal) and Ateki Seta Caxton (Cameroon). The Forum is also expecting to welcome Reagan-Fascell Fellows Lea Baroudi (Lebanon) and Andrej Nosov (Serbia) later this spring.

In March, Johns Hopkins University Press published Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy, a Journal of Democracy book coedited by Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Christopher Walker. A series of events to celebrate its publication have been organized for this spring in Washington, D.C., New York City, Berlin, Brussels, London, and Copenhagen. [End Page 188]


Copyright © 2016 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press