3rd Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy
On February 1-4, the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) convened for its Third Assembly in Durban, South Africa. The theme was “Building Democracy for Peace, Development and Human Rights,” and it brought together more than 600 democracy activists, practitioners, and scholars from more than 100 countries—including Belarus, Burma, China, Colombia, Cuba, Congo (Kinshasa), Iraq, Liberia, Mongolia, Serbia, and Venezuela.
In more than 40 workshops, participants explored how to expand democracy in their countries and regions; how to strengthen civic groups, political parties, and the media; how to increase the accountability of political institutions; and how to promote democratic values through civic education. Other topics includ-ed women’s participation, transitional justice, and the challenges of working in conflict-ridden societies. Participants were also given the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills and to forge relationships at a Democracy Fair that featured an exhibition area, a computer-training lab, a video screening room, and a “town hall.”
The Assembly opened with keynote speeches by Lodi Gyari, special envoy of the Dalai Lama (Tibet); Zainab Bangura, Sierra Leone’s Campaign for Good Governance (for an excerpt of her speech, see pp. 184-86 above); and Ivan Krastev, Bulgaria’s Centre for Liberal Strategies. The Premier of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, L.P.H.M. Mtshali, offered welcoming remarks.
A highlight of the event was the presentation of the Democracy Courage Tributes at the John B. Hurford memorial dinner. The awards sought to draw attention to groups working in particularly difficult circumstances, often without much recognition. Recipients were the democracy movement in Sudan, the Mano River Union Civil Society Movement (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone), the democracy movement in [End Page 187] Belarus, and two groups working for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information and the Panorama Center.
Founded in 1999 to “strengthen democracy where it is weak, to reform and invigorate democracy even where it is longstanding, and to bolster prodemocracy groups in countries that have not yet entered into a process of democratic transition,” the WMD is a global network that meets periodically to exchange ideas and experiences. It encourages the use of new information and communication technologies to foster collaboration among democratic forces around the world.
For more information on the Third Assembly, visit www.wmd.org.
The Summit of the Americas
On January 12-13, democratically elected heads of state and government met for the Special Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico. Aiming to facilitate hemispheric cooperation at the highest level of government in order to address current economic, social, and political challenges, the agenda focused on economic growth with equity, social development, and democratic governance. The principal product of the meeting was the Declaration of Nuevo León, in which the signatories pledged to strengthen mechanisms for the defense of democracy and to promote a culture of democracy based on pluralism and the acceptance of social and cultural diversity. The participants also reiterated their commitment to the full application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which states that the peoples of the Americas have the right to democracy and that their governments have the obligation to promote and defend it. For more information, visit www.summitsoftheamericas.org.
NDI Conference on Women’s Participation
On December 9-10, the National Democratic Institute convened in Washington, D.C., an international working group of women political party leaders from 27 countries to identify how best to establish mechanisms within political parties that enhance opportunities for women. The gathering, called “Win with Women: Strengthen Political Parties,” examined political party structures that have encouraged more active leadership roles for women; candidate recruitment and training programs; successful outreach efforts; fundraising and communication opportunities; and avenues for influencing government policies. From this study, participants developed a Global Action Plan of recommendations that will benefit both women and political parties.
This forum marked the beginning of the Win with Women Initiative—a movement to increase women’s political participation worldwide. The movement is expected to expand as the Global Action Plan is publicized and distributed. More information is available at www.ndi.org.
Report on NED’s International Forum
The International Forum welcomed four new Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows in February and March: Enkhtuya Oidov (Mongolia), Lyudmila Georgieva (Bulgaria), Chee Soon Juan (Singapore), and Muborak Tashpulatova (Uzbekistan). Scheduled to arrive in April and May were Oleksandr Fisun (Ukraine), Mohamed Al-Yahyai (Oman), Maria Lisitsyna (Kyrgyz Republic), and Fidaa Shehadaa (West Bank/Gaza).
On February 12, Zainab Bangura, Albino Okeny, and Anne Mugisha spoke on “Challenges to Democracy in Africa: Perspectives from Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda.” Zainab Bangura is the chair and cofounder of the Movement for Progress, a political party that seeks to promote good governance, integrity, and the empowerment of women, youth, and the disabled in Sierra Leone; she is also the cofounder and coordinator of the Campaign for Good Governance, Sierra Leone’s largest indigenous NGO. Anne Mugisha is a founding member of the Reform Agenda, a leading political organization in Uganda, and executive director of RESPOND Uganda, a transnational, prodemocracy NGO based in Washington, D.C. Albino Okeny is cofounder of the Khartoum Monitor, a leading Sudanese independent daily, and a Media for Peace program officer at the eastern Africa branch of the London-based Panos Institute, which promotes press freedom and information exchange on issues of global concern.
On February 18, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Tomá(check) Pojargave a presentation entitled “Aiding Dissidents in Closed Societies.” Pojaris director of People in Need, a Prague-based organization devoted to humanitarian assistance and democracy promotion in repressed societies, crisis areas, and war-torn countries. Chris Sabatini, NED senior program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Brian Joseph, NED program officer for Asia, offered comments.
A February 26 seminar, entitled “Getting Democracy Right: Postcommunist Accession to the European Union,” featured Rastislav Kaèer, Slovak ambassador to the United States, and Robin Shepherd, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and formerly the Moscow bureau chief of the Times of London.
On March 3, the International Forum hosted a roundtable discussion on the state of democracy in Turkey, featuring Can Paker, chairman of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation in Istanbul. And on March 8, Ivan Krastev offered remarks on anti-Americanism based on his article in this issue of the Journal (see pp. 5-16).
At the WMD Assembly in Durban (see above), the Forum’s Network of Democracy Research Institutes (www.wmd.org/ndri/ndri.html) organized a functional workshop to discuss the development of the Network and cooperation among its members; it also cosponsored with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa a topical workshop on public opinion.
Copyright © 2004 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press