News and Notes

Issue Date January 1999
Volume 10
Issue 1
Page Numbers 183-87
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Human Rights Conference in Warsaw

On October 14–16, the Foundation for the Defense of Human Rights, a Polish-based NGO, convened the Third International Human Rights Conference in Warsaw. Hundreds of human rights activists from around the world met to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to reflect upon the struggle for human rights today. The conference sought to promote the development of human rights around the world, to establish an international network of human rights and democracy activists, and to share and compare experiences in the struggle for human rights in the former Soviet bloc with those in countries elsewhere still struggling for democracy and freedom.

Working group themes included “Human Rights Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” “Human Rights and Crime,” “The Right to Information in Democratic Societies,” “Political Rights,” and “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.” Participants included Elena Bonner, Sergei Kovalev, and Father Gleb Yakunin (Russia), Wei Jingsheng (China), Lane Kirkland and Ginetta Sagan (United States), Ales Bialacki (Belarus), Jan Carnogursky (Slovakia), and Tadeusz Mazowiecki (Poland). Addressing the attendees, Polish prime minister Jerzy Buzek emphasized the “unprecedented significance” of the Universal Declaration, noting that for Poles it was “our weapon through nine years of struggle for democracy.”

Dante Fascell (1917–1998)

On November 28, Dante Fascell, long one of the strongest supporters of democracy in the United States Congress, passed away at the age of 81. Fascell represented a south Florida district during 1954–92, and was chairman of the House International Relations Committee [End Page 183] in 1984–92. He played a key role in the founding of the National Endowment for Democracy and served on its Board of Directors from 1983 to 1989. The recipient of the Endowment’s first Democracy Award in 1987, he was also recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

Crisis and Renewal in Africa

On November 12–14, some 50 scholars and practitioners took part in a conference on “Crisis and Renewal in Africa: States, Markets, Law, and Democracy” at Emory University in Atlanta. Convened by Richard Joseph of Emory’s political science department, with funding from the university and the Ford Foundation, the conference had three main objectives: to explore new theoretical frameworks for analyzing the multiple causes of crisis and renewal in Africa; to lay the basis for an institutional structure to enhance collaborative work by scholars internationally; and to identify ways of enhancing the capabilities of scholars and institutions in countries experiencing major upheavals and transformations.

In addition to a score of Africa specialists from Britain, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, and the United States, participants included noted experts on Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. There were five substantive panels: 1) Comparative State-Building: Diverse Trajectories; 2) States, Markets and Social Equity; 3) Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law; 4) State Reconfiguration and Disintegration; and 5) Democratization: Beyond Presentability. Keynote addresses were presented by Steven Friedman of South Africa, Kayode Fayemi of Nigeria, and Brian Meeks of Jamaica.

This conference served as a sequel to the Conference on African Renewal held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in March 1997. An edited book of papers presented at that earlier conference has now been published as State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa, edited by Richard Joseph (Lynne Rienner). A report on the Emory conference will be available in January and can be obtained by writing to the convener at the Department of Political Science, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322. An edited volume of revised papers presented at the Emory conference will also be published. A program to promote collaborative research on the conference’s central issues will now be established, linking scholars in several institutions worldwide.

Democracy, Inequality, and the State

On November 23–24, the Woodrow Wilson Center hosted a conference in Washington, D.C., on “Democracy, Inequality, and the State in the 21st Century,” launching a three-year comparative research project on trends in social policy in 12 countries. The study will be coordinated by Bolívar [End Page 184] Lamounier of IDESP in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Steven Friedman of the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Participants from all 12 case-study countries sought to refine the research agenda and goals of the study. Papers and discussions covered topics such as the capacity and role of the state in the twenty-first century; the impact of culture, ethnicity, and social heterogeneity on the democracies of the future; the debate over the linkages among democratic governance, free-market systems, and increasing social inequalities; and the challenges facing democracies in the decades ahead. Conference participants included Jorge Castaneda (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Chung-In Moon (Yonsei University, Seoul), Ergun Özbudun (Bilkent University, Ankara), and Joel Rocamora (Institute for Popular Democracy, Manila).

RFK Human Rights Award

On November 9, four Colombians were presented with the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award: Jaime Prieto Méndez of the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners; Mario Humberto Calixto of the Sabana de Torres Human Rights Committee; and Gloria Flórez and Berenice Celeyta of the Association for Alternative Social Policy.

At a ceremony at Georgetown University honoring the recipients, Sen. Edward Kennedy stated, “Human rights monitors are murdered more often in Colombia than anywhere else in the world. . . . By honoring these four individuals today, we also honor their colleagues and friends who have lost their lives in the struggle.”

Forum 2000

On October 11–14, writers, politicians, academics, and Nobel Prize winners from around the world met at Prague Castle to discuss “Globalization: Experiences, Instruments, Procedures” at the second Forum 2000 conference, sponsored by Czech President Václav Havel and Japan’s Nippon Foundation. Keynote speakers included Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Adam Michnik, and Wei Jingsheng. Among the panel topics were “The World of Cooperation and Conflicts,” “Global Markets vs. Local Identities,” “Global Civilization and Cultural Identities,” and “Universality or Plurality of Human Rights?” Other participants included Ashis Nandy, Martin Bútora, Leszek Kolakowski, Sergei Kovalev, Jacques Rupnik, Elizardo Sánchez, Hanna Suchocka, and Tu Weiming.

Accountability in Bulgaria

In Sofia, Bulgaria, on October 22, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the American Standard Corporation cosponsored a conference on “Building Accountability and Transparency in Bulgaria’s Political and Economic [End Page 185] System.” The conference brought together representatives from the Bulgarian government, business associations, think tanks, NGOs, and foreign corporations.

Panels were organized by three of Bulgaria’s leading think tanks, the Center for Liberal Strategies, the Institute for Market Economy, and the Institute for Regional and International Studies. The panels focused on the role of the media and of NGOs in combatting corruption, promoting greater openness in corporate governance, strengthening economic reform, and reforming Bulgaria’s legal system. Speakers included Bulgarian prime minister Ivan Kostov, former U.S. secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger, and Emmanuel Kampouris, president of American Standard and a member of the NED board.

Deep-Rooted Conflict

On October 9–10 in Stockholm, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) held a conference on “Democracy and Deep-Rooted Conflict” that brought together 100 to 150 participants from governments, international organizations, NGOs, and academia. Lena Hjelm-Wallén, Sweden’s minister for foreign affairs, presented introductory remarks. Keynote addresses were delivered by Valli Moosa, South Africa’s minister for provincial affairs and constitutional development, speaking on “Negotiating the Transition in South Africa,” and former Nigerian head of state General Olusegun Obasanjo, speaking on “Nigeria’s Transition to Democracy.” Other panel discussions covered the following topics: “Broadening the Practice of Peace-Building,” “Negotiating Transitions to Democracy,” “Promoting Democratic Governance in Post-Conflict Societies,” “Sustaining the Settlement,” and “Developing a Policy Framework for Post-Conflict Management.”

The conference also launched International IDEA’s new handbook, Democracy and Deep-Rooted Conflict: Options for Negotiators. The book, designed to provide both practical and policy advice to democracy builders, outlines options for negotiation and lessons from past efforts. International IDEA also organized a conference on “The Future of Electoral Observation” on October 26–27 in Copenhagen, in association with the Danish ministry of foreign affairs.

Report on NED’s International Forum

On September 16, the International Forum and Spain’s Instituto Universitario Ortega y Gasset cosponsored a conference in Washington, D.C., on “Managing Pluralism: Twenty Years of Spanish Democracy.” The conference, which opened with remarks by Emilio Lamo de Espinosa (Instituto Ortega y Gasset), featured sessions on political institutions, the Spanish [End Page 186] constitution, pluralism, and parties and campaigns. Presenters included Charles Powell (Instituto Ortega y Gasset), José Pedro Pérez-Llorca (one of the drafters of the 1978 Constitution), Joaquim Molins (president of the Catalan parliamentary group), Juan Linz (Yale University), Javier Tusell and Fernando Reinares (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid), and Víctor Pérez-Díaz, Pilar del Castillo, and Julián Santamaría (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). Emilio Cassinello, the Consul General of Spain in New York, delivered concluding remarks. Luncheon addresses were presented by Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and Javier Ruperez, president of the foreign affairs committee of the Spanish parliament.

Following the conference, a Capitol Hill reception honoring Spain’s 20 years of democracy brought together U.S. lawmakers and leaders of Spain’s post-Franco era. Former Spanish prime minister Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo accepted an award from Senator Graham on behalf of his country. Other speakers included famed tenor Placido Domingo and members of the U.S. Congress. A photography exhibit depicting the political, social, and cultural history of Spain over the past 20 years was displayed on Capitol Hill by the Spanish news agency EFE. A report on the conference proceedings will be published by the Forum.

“The Democratic Invention,” a lecture series cosponsored by the Forum, the Mário Soares Foundation, and the Luso-American Development Foundation and hosted by George Washington University, resumed in the fall with lectures by Alfred Stepan on “Federalism and Democracy” and his Holiness the Dalai Lama on “Asian Values and Democracy,” and concluded on December 1 with a lecture by Mário Soares also entitled “The Democratic Invention.” An edited volume based on the lecture series is in preparation.

On November 18, the Forum hosted a luncheon discussion by S.N. Eisenstadt, fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and Rose Isaacs Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Professor Eisenstadt spoke on “Multiple Modernities: Democracy and Fundamentalism.”

The Forum prepared to welcome in January a new visiting fellow, Chaibong Hahm, a political theorist from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. Hahm, whose ten-month fellowship is being supported by the Korea Research Foundation, will write on “The Confucian Gentleman and the Private Individual.”

Finally, the Forum recently published two reports based on recent conferences. “India’s Democracy at Fifty” summarizes a conference on 24 September 1997 in Washington, D.C. “Democratic Consolidation in South Africa: Progress and Pitfalls” summarizes a conference cosponsored with the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg on 16–17 February 1998. Both reports are available upon request by e-mail to They are also available in full text on DemocracyNet, located at


Copyright © 1999 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press