News and Notes

Issue Date October 2008
Volume 19
Issue 4
Page Numbers 184-87
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NED Democracy Awards

On June 17, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to human rights activists from China engaged in four principal areas of work: human rights and the rule of law, religious freedom, freedom of expression, and workers’ rights. Lawyers Li Baiguang and Li Heping attended the Capitol Hill ceremony to receive their awards.

Four other awardees are currently serving prison sentences and were honored in absentia: Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer arrested in 2005; Zhang Jianhong, a cyberdissident arrested in 2006; Yao Fuxin, a labor organizer arrested in 2002; and Hu Shigen, a labor activist and cofounder of the China Liberal Democratic Party, arrested in 1992. Wang Tiancheng, a Chinese lawyer who spent five years in prison for his activism, accepted the award for Yao Fuzin and Hu Shigen. Dr. Teng Biao, a lawyer and professor who is unable to leave China, was also honored.

The NED also presented its Democracy Service Medal posthumously to U.S. congressman Tom Lantos for his lifelong contribution to human rights. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Frank Wolf (R-VA), as well as the vice-chairman of NED’s Board of Directors Richard Gephardt, presented the awards. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) presented remarks.

The presentations were preceded by a roundtable discussion on “Law, Rights, and Democracy in China: Perspectives of Leading Advocates.” Other activists joined the awardees for the roundtable, including Han Dongfang, executive director of the China Labour Bulletin; Bob Fu, founder of the China Aid Association and a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement; Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China; Yang Jianli, a Chinese democracy activist recently released from prison who [End Page 184] is now president of Initiatives for China; Wang Tiancheng, a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party of China and the Free Labor Union of China; and Xiao Qiang, founder and publisher of China Digital Times.

Inequality and Democracy

On May 16, the Oxford Centre for the Study of Inequality and Democracy, held its inaugural conference, entitled “Democracy and Inequality: Old Questions, New Agendas.” It consisted of three sessions: The first, “How Does Democracy Affect Inequalities?” featured papers by Deborah Yashar (Princeton), David Soskice (Duke and Nuffield College, Oxford), and Mary Gregory (St. Hilda’s College, Oxford).

The second session examined India, Ghana, and Brazil, with papers by Atul Kohli (Princeton), Ato Onoma (Yale), and Sônia Rocha (Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade), respectively. The third session, “How Does Inequality Affect Democracy and Democratization?” featured presentations by Laurence Whitehead (Nuffield), Philippe Schmitter (European University Institute), and Guillermo O’Donnell (Notre Dame). The Centre, which is directed by Nancy Bermeo (Nuffield), intends to “foster problem-driven research that engages theorists, area specialists, historians and other social scientists in the United Kingdom and abroad.”

Human Rights Conference in Portugal

The annual meeting of the Institute of Political Studies of the Catholic University of Portugal, held in Estoril on June 26–28, focused on “Human Rights Today: the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” A series of panels and roundtables were devoted to discussions of human rights in relation to economics, democracy, religious freedom, and terrorism.

The panel on “Democracy and Human Rights” featured presentations by Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy, Alvaro Pinto Scholtbach of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, Wen-chang Lin of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Richard Rowson of the Washington based Council for a Community of Democracies, and Piotr Naimski of the business school at Poland’s National-Louis University in Nowy S¹cz.

Other participants included João Carlos Espada, director of the Institute for Political Studies; John O’Sullivan of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty; Eusebio Mujal León of Georgetown University; Mab Huang of the Human Rights Program in Taipei; Susan Shell of Boston College; and Ryszard Legutko of Poland’s Jagiellonian University. Other panels included topics such as “Religious Freedom in the World,” “Human Rights and Terrorism,” and “The EU and Human Rights.”

Co-organizers of the meeting included Boston College, Harvard University, King’s College in London, the Royal Institute of Philosophy in London, the business school at National-Louis University, and Georgetown University. [End Page 185]

Centre for European Policy Studies Conference

On June 17, the Centre for European Policy Studies, in collaboration with FRIDE (Madrid), the Open Society Institute, and Warwick University (U.K.), hosted a conference entitled “Democracy’s International Challenges” in Brussels. Tom Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Nancy Bermeo of Oxford University spoke at the opening panel, entitled “Doubting Democracy Promotion.” The focus of the session was on the backlash against democracy promotion as well as the relationship between funding for democracy aid and funding for military aid.

Speakers at the second session, “Resistance to Western Democracy Promotion,” included Michael Mc Faul of Stanford University, who focused on Russia; Bassma Kodmani of the Arab Reform Initiative in France, who addressed the situation in the Middle East; and Shaun Breslin of Warwick University, who discussed China.

The third session, on “Democracy’s Normative Appeal,” featured presentations by Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Renske Doorenspleet of Warwick University.

The final session, entitled “An Unkind International Context?” focused on issues of sovereignty and democratic norms. The speakers were Laurence Whitehead of Oxford University and Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations, London.

Other participants included Richard Youngs of FRIDE, Peter Burnell of Warwick University, Michael Emmerson of the Centre for European Policy Studies, and Roel von Meijenfeldt of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

Bronisław Geremek (1932–2008)

Bronisław Geremek was killed in a car accident in Poland on July 13. A distinguished medieval historian and intellectual (and the author of several articles in the Journal), he was one of the key figures in Poland’s Solidarity movement in the 1980s. He subsequently served as Poland’s foreign minister from 1997 to 2000, playing a central role in the founding of the Community of Democracies, and was elected to the European Parliament in 2004. A memorial program in his honor was scheduled to be held at the National Endowment for Democracy on September 11, an event that will be reported in a future issue.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008)

Russian writer and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn died in Moscow on August 3. The author of such classic works as One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, he was exiled from the USSR in 1974 and returned to Russia in 1994. Almost universally regarded as a towering figure and as a hero of the struggle against Soviet totalitarianism, [End Page 186] he remained controversial among many democrats because of his ambivalent and sometimes critical attitude toward liberal democracy. For a somewhat skeptical account of his legacy, with links to a wide range of commentary on his passing, see Democracy Digest,

Report on NED’s International Forum

On July 21, the International Forum organized a panel discussion entitled “Islamist Parties and Democracy” based on a symposium in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Democracy. The panelists, all of whom had contributed to the symposium, were Hillel Fradkin, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of its Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World; Amr Hamzawy, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Laith Kubba, senior director for the Middle East and North Africa at the NED; and Tamara Cofman Wittes, senior fellow and director of the Project on Middle East Democracy and Development in the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

In September, the Johns Hopkins University Press published two new volumes in the Journal of Democracy book series: Latin America’s Struggle for Democracy (edited by Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Diego Abente Brun) and How People View Democracy (edited by Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner).

The Forum hosted a series of luncheon meetings this summer featuring Reagan-Fascell Fellows. On June 25, Alice Verghese, program coordinator for Asia and the Pacific at the International Rehabilitation Council for Victims of Torture in Copenhagen, gave a presentation entitled “Torture, Justice, and Democracy: Myths and Misconceptions.” Victor Madrigal-Borloz of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and Allen Keller, director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, offered comments.

On July 10, Eddie Jarwolo, founding director of the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections– Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE), gave a presentation on “A New Liberia: Educating for Democracy as a Way of Life,” with comments by Dave Peterson, senior director for Africa at the NED.

On July 15, David Hawk, former executive director of Amnesty International USA, gave a presentation entitled “Economic Aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: The Human Rights Dimension.” Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute commented.

On July 17, S. Akbar Zaidi, an independent researcher and author from Karachi who served as visiting professor of South Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University–SAIS in 2004–2005, gave a presentation on “Why Is Pakistan Not a Democracy?” Stephen P. Cohen of the Brookings Institution offered comments. [End Page 187]