Democracy and Security Conference in Prague
On June 5–6, the Prague Security Studies Institute held a conference on “Democracy and Security: Core Values and Sound Policies.” The event featured welcoming remarks from former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar, former Czech president Václav Havel, and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, as well as keynote addresses by Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves and U.S. president George W. Bush. Panel discussion topics included “Has the democratization process reach an impasse?”; and “Does the process of democratization contribute to security?”
Former Heads of State Call for Aung San Suu Kyi’s Release
On May 16, a group of 59 former heads of state called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy and the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient. The letter, which was spearheaded by former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and signed by every living U.S. ex-president, called for her immediate release from house arrest and asked the military regime not to extend her detention, which was scheduled to end on May 27. Burma’s military rulers, however, have since renewed her detention for another year.
CIMA Holds Inaugural Forum
The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA)—a project of the National Endowment for Democracy that seeks to strengthen support for free and independent media worldwide—held its first public meeting on May 2 at the U.S. Capitol. The forum was hosted by Sen. Christopher Dodd, Sen. Richard Lugar, Rep. Adam Schiff, and Rep. Mike Pence—the co-chairs of the [End Page 186] Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press—and focused on the international role of the media in exposing corruption and promoting good governance.
The forum’s panel discussion featured Daniel Kaufman, director of Global Programs and Governance at the World Bank; Myroslava Gongadze, reporter and anchor for the Voice of America’s Ukrainian service; Mauricio Herrera Ulloa, investigative reporter for the Costa Rican daily La Nación; and Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalists.
Conference on Africa’s Democratic Momentum
On March 5–7, the Electoral Commission of South Africa, the African Union Commission, and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance hosted the “International Conference on Sustaining Africa’s Democratic Momentum” in Johannesburg, South Africa. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, deputy president of the Republic of South Africa, delivered the keynote address. Opening remarks were given by Amos Masondo, Johannesburg’s mayor; Vidar Helgesen, secretary-general of International IDEA; and Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chair of the Commission of the African Union.
Plenary session topics included “Enhancing the Capacity of Political Parties as Agents of Democratization”; “Supporting Democracy and Elections Across the Globe”; and the “Nexus Between Democracy and Development.”
Forum on Democracy in the Arab World
On May 27–29, 450 civil society activists, scholars, journalists, and political-party members from across the Middle East gathered in Doha, Qatar, for the “Second Forum on Democracy and Political Reform in the Arab World.” Organized by the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar, the Forum featured an opening speech by Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar, as well as presentations by Salim Alhoss, former Lebanese prime minister; Saad Eddin Ibrahim, director of the Ibn Khaldun Center in Egypt; and Radwan Masmoudi, director of the U.S.-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy.
Participants discussed civil society and political parties; constitutions and laws; women, youth, and political participation; the role of the private sector in enhancing democracy and government; and the role of foreign actors in democratic change. See www.qatar-conferences.org/arabdemocracy2007.
New Policy Journal: Americas Quarterly
On April 19, the Americas Society/Council of the Americas launched its new policy journal, Americas Quarterly. The journal is dedicated to the community of the Americas, highlighting and engaging new leaders in politics, civil society, and business in the debate about policy in the hemisphere. The journal will bring together voices, [End Page 187] research, and opinions that do not usually meet in the current array of media. The first issue includes contributions by Ricardo Lagos, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and Jorge Casta~neda. See www.americas quarterly.org.
New York Democracy Forum
On April 18, the New York Democracy Forum held a lecture on “Democracy or Populism: Responding to the Crisis in Latin America,” featuring former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo.
On February 12, Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion and organizer of “The Other Russia”—a coalition of political and social opposition groups that organized a major conference in Moscow in 2006—delivered a lecture entitled, “The Prospects for Russian Democracy.”
USIP Launches Rule-of-Law Network
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) formally launched the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law, an online consortium of practitioners joined together to develop resources to promote the rule of law in countries transitioning from war to peace. USIP created this network to encourage information sharing and to provide those serving in the field access to relevant documents, information on best practices, and related material. See www.inprol.org.
Report on NED’s International Forum
On April 18, the Forum and the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea cosponsored an event entitled, “North of the DMZ: A Human Rights Perspective.” It featured Andrei Lankov, associate professor at Kookmin University, and Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. NED president Carl Gershman moderated the event.
The Forum hosted a series of luncheon lectures featuring Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows:
On May 24, Jose Luis Gascon, executive director of the Manila-based LIBERTAS (Lawyer’s League for Liberty), gave a presentation entitled, “The Congressional Elections in the Philippines: An Initial Assessment.” Telibert Laoc of the National Democratic Institute commented on the presentation.
On June 6, Nigina Bakhrieva, founder and director of Tajikistan’s Republican Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, gave a presentation entitled, “NGOs and War: The Case of Tajikistan.” Miriam Lanskoy of NED offered comments.
On June 7, Diego Abente-Brun, professor of sociology and politics at the Catholic University of Paraguay, gave a talk entitled, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Dilemmas of Democracy in Paraguay.” Cynthia McClintock, professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, commented on the presentation.