NED Democracy Awards
At a July 9 ceremony on Capitol Hill, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to four women, all democratic activists from the Muslim world: Nadjet Bouda (Algeria), Mehrangiz Kar (Iran), Mariam Hussein Mohamed (Somalia), and Muborak Tashpulatova (Uzbekistan). The ceremony was hosted by NED chairman Vin Weber. Speakers included First Lady Laura Bush, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, and Senators Joseph Biden and Bill Frist.
Dobriansky, a former NED vice chairman, emphasized “how very appropriate it is that this year’s awards focus our attention on the democracy and human rights movements in the Islamic World. Since the world-altering events of September 11, the need to bring lasting freedom and peace to that region has never been more painfully clear.” Presenting the awards, First Lady Laura Bush echoed this sentiment, underscoring the role played by women in the growth of democratic values in Muslim countries. The First Lady went on to thank the four recipients for fighting for freedom and human rights, for speaking out against tyranny and injustice, and for educating teachers and children about freedom, civic responsibility, peace, and democracy.
On July 11, the NED awarded its Democracy Service Medal to Jan Nowak, former vice president of the Polish-American Congress. Nowak was intimately associated with NED’s efforts to aid Solidarity during the 1980s, and since the end of communist rule he has assisted in the consolidation of the new Polish democracy. A member of the resistance movement during Word War II, Nowak served as a courier for the Polish government-in-exile in London, and for a quarter-century following the war he directed the Polish service of Radio Free Europe. On July 21, after almost three decades in the United States, Jan [End Page 188] Nowak returned to Poland at the age of 89. For more information on these events, visit www.ned.org.
EU Conference on Cuba
In a demonstration of growing European support for civil society in Cuba, the European Parliament organized a conference in Strasbourg, France, entitled “How to Democratize Cuba From Within.” Among the speakers was the European Parliament’s president, Pat Cox. Cuba’s ambassador to the European Union, Rene Mujica, denounced the conference, saying that the premises upon which it was launched constituted an offense to the Cuban people. Four representatives of Cuba’s emerging civil society were invited to attend the event, but the Cuban government denied them permission to leave the country.
Scholars at Risk Program Expands
Starting in the 2002-2003 academic year, Harvard will host and support at least one foreign scholar through its new Scholars at Risk Fellowship Program. This marks an important milestone in the expansion of the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR), which seeks to assist scholars who are displaced or persecuted in their home countries by arranging temporary positions at U.S. universities. SAR was launched by the University of Chicago in June 2000, and now comprises more than 70 colleges and universities from across the country. The network also collaborates with a wide range of professional associations and nongovernmental organizations. For more information, visit http://scholarsatrisk.uchicago.edu.
Nigerian Woman Wins Human Rights Award
Ayesha Imam, coordinator of BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, has been selected to receive the 2002 John Humphrey Freedom Award of Canada’s International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Ms. Imam was honored for her work against the adoption of restrictive and discriminatory forms of shari‘a criminal laws in the northern states of Nigeria. A human rights advocate for the past two years, Imam has been instrumental in challenging assaults on women’s rights in the name of religious law and in popularizing gender-egalitarian understandings of the Koran. The award, which includes a $25,000 grant and a speaking tour of Canada, will be presented on International Human Rights Day in Montreal on December 10.
Report on NED’s International Forum
On July 10, the Forum hosted a symposium entitled “The Struggle for Democracy in West Africa: Perspectives from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.” Principal speakers were Reagan-Fascell Democracy [End Page 189] Fellows Charlie Hughes, Benedict Sannoh, and Ndubisi Obiorah. Emory University Professor Richard Joseph served as commentator.
On July 26-27, the Democracy Forum for East Asia, a project of the International Forum and the South Korea-based Sejong Institute, held its sixth workshop in Seoul. Entitled “The Role of the Media in Fighting Corruption: Perspectives from Asia and Beyond,” the workshop brought together more than 30 journalists, academics, editors, activists, and representatives of government anticorruption agencies. Immediately following this workshop, the Sejong Institute organized an international academic conference on the theme “Civil Society and Democratic Governance in East Asia.”
In August, the Forum hosted three presentations by Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows: On August 15, Yuriy Krynytskyy spoke on political competition in Ukraine; on August 22, Ana Julia Ramos gave a presentation entitled “Toward Congressional Accountability in Colombia”; and on August 27, Moethee Zun spoke on “The Democracy Movement in Burma: Personal Reflections.”
The Forum has announced the 2002-2003 class of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows, which includes practitioners and scholars from around the world: Arkady Cherepansky (Belarus), Herbert Boh (Cameroon), Ahmed Subhy Mansour (Egypt), Tolekan Ismailova (Kyrgyz Republic), Nyamosor Tuya (Mongolia), Luz María Helguero (Peru), Marek Kwiek (Poland), Grigorii Golosov (Russia), Pyotr Polozhevets (Russia), Olga Gyárfášová (Slovakia), Clayton Lillienfeldt (South Africa), Mustafa Erdoğan (Turkey), Steven Finkel (United States), and Richard Joseph (United States).
On August 28, the Forum cosponsored with the U.S. Agency for International Development an all-day conference on “The Use of Survey Data to Inform Democracy and Governance Strategies and Programs.” Held in Washington, D.C., the conference highlighted the latest survey results of public perceptions of democracy in Latin America, Africa, East Asia, Central Europe, and the NIS. Conference participants also discussed how to make practical use of the results in regional and country-specific contexts. Panelists included Mitchell Seligson (University of Pittsburgh), Richard Rose (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow), Michael Bratton (Michigan State University), Yun-han Chu (National Taiwan University), and Larry Diamond (Hoover Institution).
On September 25, the International Forum was scheduled to cosponsor with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars a conference on liberal Islam. A more detailed report will appear in our next issue.
Finally, the Johns Hopkins University Press recently published two new Journal of Democracy books: Democracy After Communism, edited by Marc F. Plattner and Larry Diamond, and Emerging Market Democracies: East Asia and Latin America, edited by Laurence Whitehead.
Copyright © 2002 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press