News and Notes

Issue Date January 2007
Volume 18
Issue 1
Page Numbers 186-88
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Lectures on Democracy

The third annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World was presented by Saad Eddin Ibrahim at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C., on November 1. Dr. Ibrahim, founder and chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo, spoke on the topic “Toward Muslim Democracies.” The lecture, which was also given on November 2 at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, will be published in the April 2007 Journal of Democracy.

The New York Democracy Forum, cosponsored by NED and the Foreign Policy Association, organized two lectures this fall. On October 30, Jorge Casta~neda, Mexico’s former foreign minister, spoke on “Democratization in the Western Hemisphere: Prospects and Challenges.” On November 27, Esther Dyson, founding chairman of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and board member of the Eurasia Foundation and NED, gave a talk entitled “A Virtualist Tours the World: The Internet and the Emergence of Democracy.”

Human Rights Awards

In November, the Thorolf Rafto Foundation for Human Rights awarded its 2006 Memorial Prize to Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do for his courage through three decades of peaceful opposition to the communist regime. Thich Quang Do, one of Vietnam’s most prominent defenders of democracy, religious freedom, and human rights, has spent 25 years in prison and, at age 77, remains under house arrest.

In December, the European Parliament awarded its 2006 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Alyaksandr Milinkevich, leader of the opposition in Belarus. Milinkevich ran in presidential elections [End Page 186] last March, the conduct of which was condemned by the EU and the US. At an opposition rally protesting the results, he was arrested and held for 15 days.

UN Democracy Fund Gives First Grants

The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) has unveiled its first beneficiaries, awarding US$36 million in grants to 125 projects worldwide that range from supporting women parliamentarians to teaching human rights awareness in schools. Secretary-General Kofi Annan approved projects that had been chosen by the UN Programme Consultative Group and the UNDEF’s Advisory Board. The fund was established in July 2005 to provide assistance to governmental, nongovernmental, national, regional, and international organizations working to build and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and ensure the participation of all groups in democratic processes.

Democracy Discussion at UN

A high-level roundtable discussion on democracy was held at the United Nations on September 19 during the General Assembly. The discussion, chaired by U.S. president George W. Bush, brought together 22 heads of state and focused on challenges to NGOs in the face of recent democratic “backsliding” in a number of countries and a “backlash” against democracy assistance, as reflected in the passage of new restrictive “NGO laws.” Participating NGO representatives included Natalia Bourjaily of Belarus; Yuri Dzhibladze of Russia; Engi El-Haddad of Egypt; Nozima Kamalova of Uzbekistan; Reginald Matchabe-Hove of Zimbabwe; Carlos Ponce of Venezuela; and Carl Gershman, president of NED.

New Online Publication On Iran

Freedom House has launched a new online publication in Persian and English entitled Gozaar: A Journal of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran. In response to widespread censorship and the closure of all independent print newspapers in Iran, the journal seeks to help Iranian democrats by creating an inclusive and provocative space for the discussion of liberty. Visit

Media and Politics Program Launched in Peru

On August 31–September 1, 60 politicians, scholars, and journalists from Central America and the Andes region met in Lima, Peru, to discuss the relations between the media and politics in Latin America. The conference was the first in a 2006–2007 series on “Media, Politics and Democracy in Central America and the Andes Region,” a joint initiative of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, Radio Netherlands, and FreeVoice. [End Page 187]

New Items on Journal of Democracy Web Site

Letters from readers and supplemental graphics are published on the Journal of Democracy’s Web site. Jørgen Møller has a critical note on M. Steven Fish’s article, “Stronger Legislatures, Stronger Democracies” (January 2006), at www.journalof charts, tables, and graphs for the January 2007 issue are available at /articles/current.html.

Report on NED’s International Forum

On October 25, an event entitled “Electoral Systems and Democracy: What Have We Learned?” celebrated the launch of the latest Journal of Democracy book published by Johns Hopkins University Press, Electoral Systems and Democracy. The event was moderated by Journal coeditor Marc F. Plattner and included book-chapter authors Larry Diamond, coeditor of the Journal and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution; Donald L. Horowitz, James B. Duke Professor of Political Science and Law at Duke University; Andrew Reynolds, associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Richard Soudriette, president of IFES.

A November 29 event entitled “Latin America’s Year of Elections” featured Arturo Valenzuela, professor of government and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, and Hector E. Schamis, assistant professor of comparative and regional studies at American University’s School of International Service. Drawing upon their articles in the October issue of the Journal of Democracy, Valenzuela and Schamis discussed the 2006 elections in the Western hemisphere and their implications for the region’s state of democracy. Marc F. Plattner moderated the discussion.

A December 8 event featured Maria Lisitsyna on the topic “Kyrgyzstan since the Tulip Revolution.” Kevin Jones, graduate research fellow at the Center for International Security Studies at the University of Maryland, offered comments.

In October, the Forum welcomed nine new Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows: Ali Afshari (Iran), Hafez Al-Bukari (Yemen), Rafiah Al-Talei (Oman), Michael Boda (Canada/U.S.), Krzysztof Jasiewicz (Poland), John Oliver Kollie (Liberia), Ilko Kucheriv (Ukraine), Olga Nicolenco (Moldova), and Le Quoc Quan (Vietnam). They will be in residence through February 2007.

This fall, two fellows gave presentations on their research at the Forum:

On November 30, John Kollie delivered a talk on “The Role of the Media in Fostering Peace and Good Governance in Liberia,” with comments by NED Africa program officer Chris Wyrod.

On December 13, Rafiah Al Talei gave a presentation entitled “Women’s Political Participation in Oman: Roadblocks to Progress,” with comments by Michelle Dunne, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.