News and Notes

Issue Date April 2010
Volume 21
Issue 2
Page Numbers 187-189
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NED Democracy Service Medal for the Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, was awarded NED’s Democracy Service Medal at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on February 19. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, gave a welcoming address. After his acceptance speech, the Dalai Lama answered questions from the audience. The medal is presented to “individuals who have demonstrated through personal commitment their dedication to the advancement of freedom and human rights, and to the building of democratic institutions.” For more information or to view a video of the event, please visit www.ned.org/events/democracy-service-medal.

DC Human Rights Summit

Freedom House and Human Rights First organized the 2010 “Washington Human Rights Summit: Affirming Fundamental Freedoms” in Washington, D.C., on February 17–19, bringing together human-rights defenders from around the world. Sessions and panels addressed such topics as “Global Challenges: Human Rights in Retreat?”; “Shackling the Defenders: Modern Threats to Freedom of Association”; “Silencing the Critics: Freedom of Expression under Fire”; “The Way Forward: Views from Civil Society”; and “Affirming Fundamental Freedoms: The Role of Democracies.”

Panel participants included Yuri Dzhibladze, president of Russia’s Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights; Gamal Eid of the Egypt-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information; Sima Samar of the Afghan Human Rights Commission; Kaitira Kandjii of the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Namibia; Wen-Cheng Lin, president of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy; and Carlos Ponce of the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy. [End Page 187]

Alejandro Toledo, former president of Peru, spoke at the opening dinner, and Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, addressed the dinner by video link from Prague. A number of the human-rights defenders in attendance had a meeting with President Obama at the White House. For more information, please visit: www.humanrightssummit.org.

Exchange on Nicaragua

Samuel R. Greene of Catholic University has submitted a comment on Leslie Anderson and Lawrence Dodd’s July 2009 article, “Nicaragua: Progress Amid Regress?” This comment and a response from the authors is now on our website, www.journalofdemocracy.org.

North Korean Donor Conference

On February 4–5, the first “International Donor Conference on North Korea: Development, Human Rights, and Democracy,” cosponsored by the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University and the National Endowment for Democracy, was held in Seoul, South Korea. Park Jae Kyu, president of Kyungnam University, and NED president Carl Gershman spoke at the conference’s opening ceremony.

Panels and presentations focused on: “Modernization and Democracy: Creating a Blueprint for the Future of North Korea”; “North Korean Human Rights, Refugees, and Media: Lessons Learned and Directions for the Future”; “Economic Development, Participation, and Market Reform”; “Human Rights, Media, and North Korean Defectors”; and “Development Assistance, Economic Development and Democracy.”

Panelists and presenters included the Venerable Pomnyun, chairman of the Seoul-based Peace Foundation; Kim Hyung O, the speaker of the National Assembly; Kathleen Stephens, ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Korea; Chun Yung-woo, Korea’s vice-minister of foreign affairs and trade; Park Hyeongjung from the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU); Jhe Seong-ho, the ambassador-at-large for human rights of the Republic of Korea; and Janice Lyn Marshall from UNHCR.

NED’s International Forum

On January 21, the Journal of Democracy celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a panel discussion on “Democracy’s Past and Future” followed by a reception. The panel featured Francis Fukuyama of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Ivan Krastev of the Centre for Liberal Strategies (Bulgaria), and Journal coeditors Marc F. Plattner and Larry Diamond. The discussion was moderated by Moisés Naím, editor of Foreign Policy.

On March 11, the Forum held a panel discussion to mark the publication of Democratization in Africa: [End Page 188] Progress and Retreat, a new Journal of Democracy book edited by Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner. Larry Diamond moderated the panel, which included contributors Joel D. Barkan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Richard Joseph of Northwestern University; Peter Lewis of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; Andrew M. Mwenda (Uganda) of Yale University; and H. Kwasi Prempeh (Ghana) of Seton Hall University School of Law.

On December 16, the Forum organized a luncheon discussion on “The Impact of the Russia-Georgia War on Georgian Democracy.” The principal speaker was Giorgi Areshidze, director and senior fellow at the Partnership for Social Initiatives in Tbilisi, Georgia; Miriam Lanskoy, NED’s senior program officer for Central Asia and the Caucasus, offered comments.

The Forum hosted several luncheon meetings this winter featuring Reagan-Fascell Fellows.

On January 7, Radwan Ziadeh, founding director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies and executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, gave a presentation entitled “Syria’s Democratic Past: Lessons for the Future.” Steven Heydemann of the U.S. Institute of Peace commented.

On January 20, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, founder and executive director of the Society for Democratic Initiatives, a human-rights NGO in Sierra Leone, gave a talk on “Breaking the Resource Curse: Freedom of Information in Sierra Leone.” Sahr J. Kpundeh of the World Bank offered comments.

On January 28, Peter Novotny, program director of Obcianske Oko (Civic Eye), a Slovak electionmonitoring organization, spoke on “The Backlash Against Election Monitors: How the Profession Can Respond.” Patrick Merloe of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs commented.

On February 18, Sangsoo Kim, a news anchorman for the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in South Korea, gave a presentation entitled “The Voice of Freedom: Improving Radio Programs for the Citizens of North Korea.” Nathaniel Kretchun, project manager for East Asia at InterMedia, and John Knaus, senior program officer for Asia at NED, offered comments.

On February 23, Migai Akech, a law professor in Nairobi, Kenya, gave a talk on “Corruption and Abuse of Power in Kenya: Will the Proposed New Constitution Enhance Government Accountability?” Joel Barkan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies commented.

This spring, the Forum welcomed nine new Reagan-Fascell Fellows: Andrés Cañizález (Venezuela), Jimmy Dube (Zimbabwe), Zahid Ebrahim (Pakistan), Mohammad Ishaq (Afghanistan), Maria Martin (Guatemala/United States), Rosemary Mwakitwange (Tanzania), Benjamin Reilly (Australia), Fatima Tlisova (Russia), and Farid Tuhbatullin (Turkmenistan). They will be in residence through July. Cornell University professor Valerie Bunce (United States), who arrived in January, will be a visiting fellow through May. [End Page 189]