News and Notes

Issue Date January 1996
Volume 7
Issue 1
Page Numbers 189-91
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Dilemmas of Nigerian Democracy Discussed

Leading scholars representing universities in Nigeria, the United States, Canada, and Senegal gathered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on November 10–12 for a major research conference on “The Dilemmas of Democracy in Nigeria.”

United by a concern over the growing influence of Nigeria’s military dictatorship, participants examined the obstacles to democratization through a series of panel discussions. Topics explored included the roles of religion, ethnicity, local institutions, the military, women, and emerging political groups in the democratization process. A summary of the panel proceedings and conclusions is in preparation.

The conference was funded by a grant from the United States Information Agency and was co-sponsored by the university’s African Studies and Global Studies programs. For more information, contact Paul Beckett, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Area Programs Support Office, Suite 301, Ingraham Hall, Madison, WI 53706; phone, 608-262-8577; fax, 608-265-2919.

Briefing Focuses on Transitional Justice

On October 11, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held a briefing in Washington, D.C., to mark the publication of a three-volume work entitled Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes. Edited by Neil J. Kritz, USIP’s senior scholar on rule of law, the collection draws on the experience of approximately 35 countries to examine the moral, political, and legal aspects of the transition from repression to democracy.

The briefing explored the roles of truth commissions, amnesty, purges, and compensation and rehabilitation of victims. Speakers included Michael Zantovsky and Franklin Sonn, the Czech and South African ambassadors to the United States. For more information, contact [End Page 189] Neil Kritz, USIP, 1550 M St., N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005-1708; phone, 202-429-3888. To place a book order, call 1-800-868-8064.

Democracy in the Arab World Examined

On October 19–21, the Foundation on Democratization and Political Change in the Middle East (FDPCME) held its second annual conference in Washington, D.C. Entitled “Reshaping the Agenda: U.S.-Arab Relations and the Challenge of Political Participation,” the conference featured speeches and discussions by parliamentarians, NGO activists, and scholars from Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, the West Bank, Tunisia, Syria, and the United States. The keynote speaker was Robert Pelletreau, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Discussions centered around three issues: the efforts of Arab political activists and NGOs to shape political, economic, and social policy; the influence of Arab-American relations on these efforts; and the similarities and differences between the perceptions that Arabs and Americans have brought to the task of promoting political change in the Middle East. Five panel discussions explored, respectively, democracy in the Arab world and U.S. foreign policy; political participation and parliaments; civil society and Islam; labor unions and economic reform; and human rights between state and civil society.

The discussions showed that U.S.-Arab relations in the post-Cold War era had taken a decisive turn, with attention shifting away from the Arab-Israeli conflict toward issues of economic and political change. This shift poses new challenges for Americans and Arabs who share a commitment to human rights, democratic reform, and social change.

A conference report will be issued in January 1996. For more information, contact Daniel Brumberg, FDPCME, 1301 33rd St., N.W., Apt. 6, Washington, DC 20007; fax, 202-342-5546.

Assessing the Communist Legacy

On November 9–10, Freedom House and the Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute co-sponsored a conference in Washington, D.C., on “Neocommunism and Democratic Change.” The participants analyzed communist and former communist parties in Central and Eastern Europe and the former USSR, and explored other aspects of the communist legacy that have posed obstacles to democratization.

Speakers from abroad included G.M. Tamás (Hungary), Gramoz Pashko (Albania), Ghia Nodia (Georgia), Leila Aliyeva (Azerbaijan), and Geza Jeszenszky (Hungary). Among the paper presenters from the United States were Adrian Karatnycky, Martha Brill Olcott, Vladimir Tismaneanu, Irena Lasota, and Peter Rodman. Publication of the papers is planned under the [End Page 190] editorship of conference organizers Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr., and Carnes Lord. For more information, contact Arch Puddington, Freedom House, 120 Wall St., 26th Floor, New York, NY 10005; phone, 212-514-8040; fax, 212-514-8050.

Report on NED’s International Forum

On October 6, the Forum and the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego, co-sponsored a one-day meeting in Washington, D.C., on “Mexico: The Challenge of Political Opening.” The meeting featured roundtable discussions on political transformation; economic crisis and the social-reform agenda; civil society and the state; and the reform agenda and the international community. Arturo Valenzuela, deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, delivered a luncheon address.

On December 1, the Forum held a one-day meeting in Washington, D.C., on “Stability and Reform in Egypt.” Roundtable discussions focused on political, economic, and social issues and explored possible courses of action. Robert Pelletreau, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, gave the luncheon address. The Forum will publish conference reports summarizing the proceedings of the meetings on Mexico and Egypt, which were funded in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

On October 13, the Forum held a luncheon discussion featuring Bernard Lewis, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies (Emeritus) at Princeton University. Professor Lewis spoke on “Islam and Liberal Democracy.” Another luncheon discussion held on October 25 featured Richard Rose, director of the Centre for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. The topic of Professor Rose’s talk was “What to Watch for in the Russian Elections.”

On November 21, Hyug Baeg Im of Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, Korea, presented a paper on “Economic Globalization and the Vulnerability of Democracy”; a general discussion followed. Professor Im served as a visiting fellow at the Forum for the Fall 1995 semester, with funding provided by the Asia Foundation and the Korea Research Foundation.

On 14–15 March 1996, the Forum will co-sponsor, with the Japan Institute of International Affairs and the Institute of Public Policy Studies (Thailand), a major conference in Washington, D.C., on “Democracy in East Asia.” The conference will feature sessions on East Asian political cultures and democracy, the region’s democratic experience, consolidating East Asia’s new democracies, and prospects for transitions from authoritarianism. The conference will conclude with a roundtable discussion of prospects for democracy in the region. The conference is being funded, in part, by the Center for Global Partnership of the Japan Foundation. For more information, contact Debra Liang-Fenton at 202-293-0300.