Romania Hosts Conferences on Democracy
The Romanian Academic Society, in cooperation with the American Cultural Center, British Council, Goethe Institute, Freedom House, German Marshall Fund of the United States, and New Europe College/Bucharest, organized three related events in May 2002 that focused on think tanks and democracy.
The first event was a conference entitled “Transatlantic Forum: The Role of Think Tanks in the New Millennium,” which was held on 3-5 May 2002 in Mamaia on the Black Sea coast of Romania. Participants included scholars and managers from public policy research institutes in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe and in the United States, including representatives of several members of the International Forum’s Network of Democracy Research Institutes. The primary discussion topics were the role of think tanks in international crises (especially in the Balkans), in policy debates on enlargement of the European Union, and in the government accountability process. The conference also included a keynote dinner address by Emil Constantinescu, former president of Romania.
The second event was a May 6 workshop at New Europe College/Bucharest entitled “Balkan Exceptionalism or Theory Failure? Unsettled Matters of Democratization in Eastern Europe.” Participants discussed the state of democratic theory after the first decade of postcommunism; public opinion and democratization; the achievements and failures of international democracy assistance; and the role of the media in shaping political culture. Participants included Thomas Carothers, Daniel Daianu, Pavol Demes, Larry Diamond, Venelin Ganev, Elemer Hankiss, Charles King, Hans-Dieter Klingemann, Gerald Knause, Ivan Krastev, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Marc F. Plattner, Andrei Plesu, Leonid Polishchuk, Richard Rose, Anca Toader, and Jan Zielonka. [End Page 189]
The third event, “Reinventing Social Science in Eastern Europe: The Case of Romania,” was held May 7 at the Goethe Institute in Bucharest. Panelists from Europe and the United States assessed the recent history and current state of scholarship and teaching in two disciplines—sociology and political science—that have undergone major changes since 1989.
Inaugural Democracy Lecture
On May 15, Szeto Wah delivered the first Albert Shanker Lecture, named after the late former president of the American Federation of Teachers. The lecture was sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, which facilitates the discussion and promotion of education, labor, and democracy. Szeto Wah helped to build Hong Kong’s largest democratic union and to found Hong Kong’s Democratic Party. He is also a popularly elected member of Hong Kong’s legislature. His speech was entitled “Hong Kong’s Labor Movement and the Experience of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union.” For the full text of the speech and more information on the Institute, visit www.ashankerinst.org.
Democracy and AIDS
On April 22-23, a workshop was held in Cape Town on “Democracy and AIDS in Southern Africa: Setting the Research Agenda,” organized by the Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU) in the Centre for Social Science Research at the University of Cape Town; the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) at the University of Natal, Durban; and the AIDS and Governance Programme at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA).
The purpose of the two-day workshop was to begin a systematic attempt on the part of the three organizing institutions to describe and anticipate the nature and scope of the threat that the HIV/AIDS pandemic poses to democratic government across Southern Africa. The initial output will be a working paper setting out research priorities on the linkages between AIDS and democracy. The paper and conference discussion papers should be available by the end of July at www.idasa.org.za.
Major speakers and participants included Andrew Dawes, Rob Dorrington, Paul Graham, Adam Habib, Lindy Heinecken, Claude Kabemba, Robert Mattes, Martin Shonteich, Roger Southall, and Alan Whiteside.
Report on Voter Turnout
A new report finds that voter turnout worldwide has decreased by nearly 10 percent over the last decade. Voter Turnout since 1945—A Global Report, recently released by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, describes the state of voter turnout in all regions of the world. For more information, see www.idea.int. [End Page 190]
Report on NED’s International Forum
On April 12, the International Forum and the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy Studies Program cosponsored a seminar featuring Pakistani political analyst Aqil Shah entitled “Reconstructing ‘Real’ Democracy: Military Rule and Democratic Transition in Pakistan.” Brookings visiting fellow Navnita Chadha Behera commented on Shah’s remarks.
On April 11, the Forum hosted a luncheon seminar by Ladan Boroumand and Roya Boroumand on “Terror, Islam, and Democracy,” with comments by Francis Fukuyama. (The talk was based on the Boroumands’ article of the same title that appeared in the April 2002 issue of the Journal of Democracy.) On June 17, the Forum was scheduled to host a seminar by Ognyan Minchev, director of the Institute for Regional and International Studies (Sofia), on “Democracy in Bulgaria: Political Reform and the NATO Accession Process.”
The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University and the International Forum cosponsored a May 23 seminar on “Iranian Intellectuals: Challenging the Old Traditions.” The speakers were Ramin Jahanbegloo (Reagan-Fascell Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy); Nayereh Tohidi (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars); Farzin Vahdat (Tufts University); and Mehrdad Mashayekhi (Georgetown University).
The Forum also recently hosted a number of luncheon seminars featuring Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. On April 3, Myroslava Gongadze spoke on “The March 31 Elections in Ukraine: A Preliminary Assessment.” On May 22, Chaihark Hahm addressed the question “Is Korea Becoming More Democratic? The Role of the Constitutional Court.” On May 30, Mehrangiz Kar gave a talk on “The Constitutional Obstacles to Democratic Reform in Iran.” On June 19, Ivlian Haindrava was scheduled to speak on “New Political Realities in Georgia.” Finally, on June 27, Vladimir Solonari was scheduled to address “The Political Uses of History in the Post-Soviet World: The Case of Moldova.”
Additionally, two new fellows were recently accepted for short stays on an emergency basis. Benedict Sannoh, a Liberian human rights attorney, is founder and executive director of the Center for Law and Human Rights Education in Monrovia and assistant professor of law at the University of Liberia. Moethee Zun of Burma was an organizer of the All Burma Federation of Students Union (ABFSU) and cofounder of Burma’s Democratic Party for a New Society in the late 1980s. From 1989-2001, he lived on the Thai border and served as chairman of the ABFSU.
Finally, the Johns Hopkins University Press is publishing 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. Both are due out by the end of summer 2002.
Copyright © 2002 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press