News and Notes

Issue Date January 2000
Volume 11
Issue 1
Page Numbers 217-20
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Tenth Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

On October 20, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) sponsored a panel discussion and award ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the tenth anniversary of commu-nism’s collapse in the former Czechoslovakia. The panel discussion, entitled “The Legacy of the Velvet Revolution: Democracy, Independence and Peace in Central Europe,” was moderated by NED chairman John Brademas. Panelists included Sen. Joseph Biden; Zora Bútorová of Slovakia’s Institute for Public Affairs; Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick of the American Enterprise Institute; Michael Meyer of Newsweek; Karel von Schwarzen-berg, former chancellor of the Czech Republic’s Office of the President; Martin Simecka of the Slovak newspaper SME; and Martin Palou(check), deputy foreign minister of the Czech Republic. Following the discussion, Irena Kirkland (widow of former AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland) presented the NED Democracy Service Medal to Alexandr Vondra, Czech ambassador to the United States, and Wendy Luers (president of the Foundation for a Civil Society) presented the NED medal to Martin Bútora, Slovakia’s ambassador to the United States. Both ambassadors had been active in the dissident movement in communist Czechoslovakia. Also present at the ceremony were senators Richard Lugar, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Kerrey, Paul Sarbanes, Bob Graham, Carl Levin, and Joseph Biden, and Congressman John Mica.

Durban Conference Considers Corruption

The Ninth International Anti-Corruption Conference took place on October 10–15 in Durban, South Africa. Hosted by the South African Minister of Justice and organized by Transparency International (TI), the meeting was entitled “Global [End Page 217] Integrity: 2000 and Beyond—Developing Anti-Corruption Strategies in a Changing World” and brought together more than 1,600 attendees from over 130 countries. Speakers included South African president Thabo Mbeki, Botswanan president Festus Mogae, and World Bank president James Wolfensohn. At the conclusion of the meeting, the delegates approved the “Durban Commitment to Effective Action Against Corruption.”

Also in October, TI released its annual “Corruption Perceptions Index,” ranking all countries in the world based on perceptions of corruption “as seen by business people, risk analysts and the general public.” Both the Index and the Durban Commitment are available online at

Third FDL-AP General Assembly

The Forum for Democratic Leaders in the Asia-Pacific held its third General Assembly October 25–26 in Seoul. The theme of the meeting was “Peace and Democracy for the New Millennium.” The major speakers were President Kim Dae Jung of Korea, East Timor independence leader José Ramos Horta, and Japanese foreign minister Kono Yohei. Topics addressed by scholars in panel discussions included “Democracy and Human Rights: Past, Present, and Future,” “Pathway to Global Peace,” and “Democratic Governance, Social Inequality, and Productive Welfare.” A special panel was devoted to East Timor. The meeting concluded by issuing resolutions on democracy in Burma and East Timor. More information can be found on the FDL-AP website, located at

Federalism and Globalization

On October 5–8, the Forum on Federations, a Canadian organization dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of ideas on federalism, held an “International Conference on Federalism in an Era of Globalization” in Mont-Tremblant, Canada. Approximately 600 elected representatives, civil servants, academics, and private-sector representatives from a large number of federal countries participated. The themes addressed included “Economic and Fiscal Federalism,” “Citizenship and Social Diversity,” “Intergovernmental Relations,” and “Social Policy.” The event also included a special program for 100 young participants from around the world.

RFK Human Rights Award

The 1999 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was presented to Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis of Liberia. The award was given in recognition of Francis’s efforts, both during and after the 1990–96 civil war, to help those involved in the conflict, both victims of the violence and others, such as child soldiers. He founded schools, [End Page 218] churches, and health centers around the country, as well as the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, a human rights organization.

The PRC Turns 50

In the fall of 1999, the People’s Republic of China celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its founding. In connection with this anniversary, several organizations held conferences in Washington, D.C., to discuss the future evolution of the country and to highlight its shortcomings in the area of human rights.

The Laogai Research Foundation and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial organized a conference entitled “Voices from the Laogai: 50 Years of Surviving China’s Forced Labor Camps.” The conference, which was held on September 17–19, brought together more than 70 survivors of the Laogai and featured speeches by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo of the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights, and Harry Wu, executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation, and a former political prisoner himself.

On September 29, the Cato Institute organized a conference entitled “Whither China? The PRC at 50,” focusing on the future of China and its relations with the United States. Major addresses were presented by James R. Lilley, former U.S. Ambassador to China, and Martin Lee, chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party. Other participants included Mao Yushi (Unirule Institute), William McGurn (Wall Street Journal), and Liu Junning (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences).

Finally, the Population Research Institute sponsored a panel discussion on “Human Rights in China: 50 Years Later” on November 19–20. The participants discussed civil, political, religious, minority, and women’s rights in the PRC. Exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng delivered an address.

New School Holds Conference on Roundtables

The Transregional Center for Democratic Studies of the New School University in New York hosted a conference on September 16 entitled “Negotiating the End of Dictatorships: Roundtables and the Future of Democracy.” The program included discussions of cases from Spain, Poland, Hungary, and South Africa and focused on the lessons of past roundtable transitions for future democratization. Many international scholars participated, including Alex Boraine (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa), Martin Bútora (ambassador of Slovakia to the United States), Konstanty Gebert (editor-in-chief of Midrasz, Poland), and János Kis (Central European University, Hungary).

Report on NED’s International Forum

On November 11–13 the Forum joined with Taiwan’s Institute for [End Page 219] National Policy Research (INPR) and Chile’s Centro de Estudios Públicos to cosponsor a major conference in Santiago, Chile, on “State, Market, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America.” The keynote speakers were Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, former presi-dent of Bolivia, and Patricio Aylwin, former president of Chile. The themes addressed included “State, Market, and Democracy in a Globalized Economy,” “Educa-tion Reform: Equity, Competitive-ness, and Democracy,” “State-Business Relations: Defining the Boundaries,” and “Financial Sector Reform.” Among the participants were Francis Fukuyama, Stephan Haggard, Tom Biersteker, Edgardo Boeninger, Ricardo Henriques, Koh Tai Ann, Abraham Lowenthal, Gordon Redding, T.J. Cheng, Yun-han Chu, Eduardo Silva, Blanca Heredia, Sylvia Maxfield, Sebastian Edwards, Sang-Woo Nam, Barbara Stallings, Laurence Whitehead, and Albert Fishlow.

On December 9–11, the Democracy Forum for East Asia, a joint project of the Forum and the Sejong Institute, cosponsored a workshop in Seoul on “The Politics of Economic Reform and Civil Society Responses.” Topics of discussion included “Providing Democratic Leadership,” “Conflicting Interests and Strategies of Governmental Actors in Effecting Economic Reform,” and “Civil Society’s Response to and Shaping of the Economic Reform Agenda.”

On October 28, a roundtable discussion on “Debating Democracy Assistance” was hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in cooperation with the Journal of Democracy. The discussion, based on an exchange that appeared in the October 1999 issue of the Journal, featured contributors Marina Ottaway (Carnegie Endowment), Elizabeth Spiro Clark (International Forum visiting fellow), and Irena Lasota (Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe), as well as Jennifer Windsor (USAID). Marc F. Plattner, coeditor of the Journal, moderated the discussion.

The Forum recently hosted three luncheon seminars. On September 28, Visiting Fellow Hahm Chaibong spoke on “Confucianism, Citizenship, and Democracy.” On November 8, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, professor at the University of Athens and national ombudsman of Greece, spoke on “Prospects for Democracy in Southeastern Europe.” On December 3, Larry Diamond, codirector of the Forum and coeditor of the Journal of Democracy, and Oyeleye Oyediran, professor of political science at the University of Lagos and Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, spoke on “An Agenda for Democratic Reform in Nigeria.”

In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Journal of Democracy, a panel discussion will be held on January 20 at the George Washington University featuring authors from the January 2000 issue. The panel will be followed by a reception that will also honor two retiring members of the National Endowment for Democracy’s board of directors, Edward Donley and Thomas H. Kean.


Copyright © 2000 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press