Conference on Democracy Promotion in Africa
On June 3–4 in Washington, D.C., the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Council on Foreign Relations cosponsored a conference on “Democracy, Human Rights, and Good Governance in Africa: French, American, and African Perspectives.” The conference brought together over 130 leading government officials, representatives of prodemocracy and human rights groups, and scholars to examine how democracy and the protection of human rights can best be promoted in Africa.
The conference was held in light of recent shifts in policy toward Africa in both France and the United States. Both countries have moved to orient their programs toward, and condition their aid on, concern for democracy and good governance. In addition, the French government has reorganized its foreign policy structures for addressing African issues. For its part, the United States has signaled greater attention toward Africa in its foreign policy through President Clinton’s extensive trip to Africa in March 1998.
Gérard Conac, recently retired professor of political science at the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne), a Visiting Fellow at the NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, played a seminal role in the conception and organization of the conference. Professor Conac encouraged support for and participation in the conference by several organizations based in France, including the Agence de la Francophonie, the Association Internationale de Parlementaires de Langue Française, the Institut International d’Administration Publique, the Association Internationale des Barreaux, and the Centre d’Études Juridiques et Politiques du Monde Africain.
The conference opened with presentations on national objectives and strategies, featuring comments by John Carson (U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for [End Page 184] Africa), Jean-Claude Faure (Directeur de Cabinet de Monsieur le Ministre de la Coopération et de la Francophonie), and Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Executive Secretary, Global Coalition for Africa).
Subsequent sessions focused on state institutions; civil society; and French, American, and African co-operation to promote democracy. Panelists included Robert Dossou (former foreign minister of Benin), Jacques Legendre (member, French Senate), René Degni Segui (former president, Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits de l’Homme and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Rwanda), and Salih Booker (director, Africa Studies Program, Council on Foreign Relations).
Luncheon addresses were presented by the Reverend Jesse Jackson (U.S. Special Envoy for Promotion of Democracy in Africa) and Congressman Amo Houghton, both of whom were introduced by Congressman Donald M. Payne. France’s ambassador to the United States, François Bujon de l’Estang, held an evening reception at his residence.
Participants suggested several activities to maintain the momentum toward greater cooperation begun at the conference: holding subsequent conferences on specific issues, such as the rule of law, the conduct of elections, and the role of donors, that would also help span the cultural and linguistic divisions between Francophone and Anglo-phone Africa; promoting civic education and training in the areas of judicial systems and the rule of law; instituting channels of communication and information exchange via e-mail and the Internet, including the establishment of an online database of democracy-promotion activities in Africa; and forming a small working group that would meet periodically to assess the progress made in French-African-American cooperation.
A report based on the conference is in preparation and will be published in both French and English. For information, contact Robert Carpenter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Conference Promotes Civic Education in Asia
On August 10–13 in Kuala Lumpur, CIVITAS International sponsored the first major Asia-Pacific conference on civic education. CIVITAS, which has an international steering committee and a secretariat with headquarters in Strasbourg, has organized three previous regional conferences on civic education: in 1995 in Prague; in 1996 in Buenos Aires; and in 1997 in Pretoria. CIVITAS@Kuala Lumpur 1998, which focused on education for democracy in the Asia-Pacific region, sought to increase awareness of work on civic education and civil society in the region and to foster regional cooperation in the field through the establishment of a regional network of civic educators. Topics addressed during the conference included sustainable development, the role of religious bodies, good governance, the role of the media, gender issues, and the role of nongovernmental [End Page 185] organizations. Further information about CIVITAS@Kuala Lumpur 1998 may be obtained online at www.civnet.org.
Cambodian Groups Awarded Medal of Liberty
On July 20, the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights announced that its 1998 Baldwin Medal of Liberty would be awarded jointly to two Cambodian human rights groups, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO). Michael Posner, executive director of the Lawyers Committee, stated: “ADHOC and LICADHO exemplify the qualities of integrity, professionalism, and courage that today characterize hundreds of national human rights organizations around the world. Such organizations are key to the future health of societies, like Cambodia, that are struggling to overcome legacies of violence and massive human rights violations.”
Founded in 1991 by a group of former political prisoners, ADHOC monitors and conducts investigations into human rights violations, and files complaints with the Cambodian authorities. Most recently, the organization launched a major voter education program in preparation for Cambodia’s July 26 parliamentary elections. LICADHO, founded in 1992, has been a leading source of reliable information on human rights abuses in Cambodia and has conducted a number of programs designed to raise human rights awareness in that country. With an extensive network of field offices and volunteers, these organizations have become a valuable source of data for the Office of the UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia.
Named in honor of the founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the International League for Human Rights, the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty is jointly administered by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and the ACLU. It is given every two years to an individual or organization outside the United States that has made a distinguished contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights. In alternate years, the award goes to a group or individual inside the United States.
Report on NED’s International Forum
As reported in the July issue of the Journal, the Forum held a major conference on “International Relations and Democracy” in Warsaw on June 25–28, cosponsored by the Stefan Batory Foundation (Warsaw) and the Institute for National Policy Research (Taipei). The conference opened with introductory remarks by Polish foreign minister Bronisław Geremek (who also hosted a reception for participants) and featured addresses by Polish deputy prime minister Leszek Balcerowicz, Taiwanese foreign minister Jason Hu, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. [End Page 186] Papers were presented by Samuel P. Huntington (Harvard University) and Jean-Marie Guehenno (Conseil d’Etat, France) on the international system after the Cold War; by Robert Cooper (British Embassy, Bonn) and Philippe Schmitter (European University Institute) on sources of integration and disintegration; by Robert Kagan (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) and Adam Rotfeld (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) on democracy promotion as an objective of foreign policy; by Kyung-Won Kim (Institute of Social Science, Seoul) and Ethan Kapstein (University of Minnesota) on the international economy and democracy; and by Jacques Rupnik (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche Internationales, Paris) and Andrei Kortunov (Moscow Public Science Foundation) on the postcommunist world. Both a report and an edited volume based on the conference are in preparation.
On July 23, the Forum held a luncheon discussion featuring a presentation by Halima El Glaoui, a visiting fellow at the Forum and the editor-in-chief of Prologues, an independent journal based in Casablanca. El Glaoui reviewed the current state of civil society in Morocco and described the ways in which Prologues has contributed to the beginnings of a transition to democracy. One result of her stay at the Forum (along with her colleague Zakia Jawhar) was the creation of an Internet website for Prologues, located at: www.ned.org/page_3/Prologues.
“The Democratic Invention,” a lecture series cosponsored with the Mário Soares Foundation and the Luso-American Development Foundation, will conclude this fall with the following scheduled lectures: On November 2, Alfred Stepan, Gladstone Professor of Government and a Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, will speak on “Federalism and Democracy”; on November 10, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will speak on “Asian Values and Democracy”; and on December 1, the series will culminate with a lecture by former Portuguese president Mário Soares also entitled “The Democratic Invention.” All three lectures will take place at the George Washington University. For further information contact Art Kaufman (email@example.com).
The Forum recently welcomed two new visiting fellows. Elizabeth Spiro Clark, currently on leave from the U.S. Department of State, will conduct a research project on “Democracy Promotion and Elections: Case Studies in the Policy Process.” Ladan Boroumand, an Iranian historian educated in France who has written an extensive study of the French Revolution, will begin a similar study of the Iranian revolution.
Finally, a one-day conference on “Managing Pluralism: Twenty Years of Spanish Democracy” was scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., on September 16. More information about the conference, which the Forum cosponsored with the Instituto Universitario Ortega y Gassett (Spain), will be included in the next issue of the Journal.
Copyright © 1998 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press