News and Notes

Issue Date October 2009
Volume 20
Issue 4
Page Numbers 183-86
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NED Democracy Awards

On June 17, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to five Cuban activists “for their courage, sacrifice, and determination to build a free and democratic Cuba.” José Daniel Ferrer García, Iván Hernández Carrillo, Librado Linares García, Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez,” and Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilar were honored in absentia. Antúnez, a leader of Cuba’s civic resistance movement who was imprisoned for seventeen years until 2007, and Pérez, who founded the Rosa Parks Women’s Movement, are both under house arrest. Ferrer (a youth activist and member of the Christian Liberation Movement), Carrillo (an independent labor activist), and Linares (a young intellectual and founder of the Cuban Reflection Movement) are all in prison after being arrested in the 2003 “Black Spring” crackdown on democratic activists.

Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL), along with Kenneth Wollack of the National Democratic Institute, spoke at the award ceremony on Capitol Hill. NED Board Chairman Richard Gephardt presented the awards, which were accepted on behalf of the honorees by Bertha Antúnez Pernet, Antúnez’s sister and a leader of the National Movement of Civic Resistance “Pedro Luis Boitel,” and Orlando Gutierrez, cofounder of the Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio). Antúnez also briefly spoke by phone during the presentation of his award.

The presentations were preceded by a roundtable discussion entitled “Toward a Free Cuba: The Prospect for Democracy after 50 Years of Dictatorship.” In addition, a documentary about the awardees entitled “The Courage to be Free” was shown before the presentation of the awards. The film includes a message from Carrillo that was [End Page 183] smuggled out of prison. For more information and to view the film, please see:

Leszek Kolakowski (1927–2009)

Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, a member of the Journal‘s International Advisory Committee, died in Oxford, England, on July 17. Best known for his three-volume work Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution, he was a fellow at Oxford University’s All Souls College. In 1998, he was awarded Poland’s highest honor, the Order of the White Eagle, and in 2003 he was the first recipient of the U.S. Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities and Social Sciences. A memorial program in his honor is scheduled to be held at the National Endowment for Democracy on October 15, an event that will be reported in a future issue.

Three Leaders of Democracy Pass Away

Three important leaders of the Third Wave of democratization passed away this year. Former Argentine president Raúl Alfonsín died in Buenos Aires on March 31 at age 82. Elected in 1983 after the fall of the military dictatorship, he served until 1989.

Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, died on August 1. The widow of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., a leading figure in the political opposition against President Ferdinand Marcos, she came to power during the People Power Revolution in 1986 and worked toward restoring the country’s democratic institutions.

Former Korean president Kim Dae Jung died on August 17. A democracy activist and member of the opposition for four decades, he was finally elected president in 1997. He fought tirelessly for democracy in Korea, famously writing in Foreign Affairs in 1994: “Culture is not necessarily our destiny. Democracy is.”

Commemorating Tiananmen

On June 2, the NED, together with the Laogai Research Foundation, organized a half-day conference entitled “Commemorating the Unforgettable: Tiananmen 20 Years On.” The panels addressed “Refinement of Repression: How Tiananmen Square Has Shaped the Chinese Media” and “From Tiananmen Square to Charter 08: The Potential for Political Reform in China.” Speakers included Xu Wenli, democracy activist and senior fellow at the Watson Institute at Brown University; Lucie Morillon of Reporters Without Borders; Ethan Gutmann, adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; author Gordon Chang; and journalist Jonathan Mirsky. [End Page 184]

CSID Conference

On May 5 in Arlington, Virginia, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) held its tenth annual conference: “How to Improve Relations With the Muslim World—Challenges and Promises Ahead.” Sessions focused both on the role of religion in developing democracies and on relations between the United States and the Muslim world. Speakers included Nathan Brown of George Washington University; John Esposito of Georgetown University; Ahmed Shaheed, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives; and Saad Eddin Ibrahim of the Cairo-based Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies.

Promoting Freedom and Deepening Democracy

On June 22–25, Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS), together with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the McDougall Trust, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and the Electoral Reform Society, organized a conference on “Promoting Political Freedom and Deepening Democracy” at Wilton Park in the United Kingdom. Speakers included Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Endowment in Moscow; Marcin Walecki of the European Partnership for Democracy in Brussels; David Lidington, U.K. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs; Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana; Asma Jahangir, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; Craig Jenness of the Electoral Assistance Division of the United Nations; and Maria Leissner, Swedish Ambassador for Democracy.

Kenya on the Brink

On July 22, the NED hosted a conference in Washington, D.C., entitled “Kenya on the Brink: Democratic Renewal or Deepening Conflict?” Speakers included Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ); Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson; the Hon. Kenneth Marende, Speaker of the Parliament of Kenya; and Maina Kiai, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and former chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Several other members of the Parliament of Kenya, as well as experts and activists, also participated. The two panels were entitled “The Urgency of Democratic Reform: Summoning the Political Will” and “Righting Kenya’s Course: The Urgent Tasks Ahead.”

NED’s International Forum

On July 14, a reception was held at the International Political Science Association’s (IPSA) triennial meeting in Santiago, Chile, to celebrate the launching of the Journal of Democracy en Español. This new annual Spanish-language edition of the Journal of Democracy is published [End Page 185] by the Institute of Political Science of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. For further information, please see:

On June 15, the Forum organized a luncheon discussion celebrating the publication of The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East by Joshua Muravchik of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The author is also a member of the Journal of Democracy‘s Editorial Board. Ziad Asali of the American Task Force on Palestine, Laith Kubba of the NED, and Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Brookings Institution offered comments.

The Forum also hosted a number of luncheon meetings this summer featuring Reagan-Fascell Fellows:

On June 17, Niemat Kuku, coordinator and founder of the research program at the Gender Center for Research and Training in Khartoum, led a roundtable discussion entitled “Engendering Democracy: Putting Women’s Rights First.” Dave Peterson, NED’s senior director for Africa, offered comments.

On June 18, Antonio Maldonado, a human-rights lawyer who successfully represented Peru’s government as the anti-corruption ad hoc solicitor in criminal cases against former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, gave a presentation on “How to Bring a Dictator to Justice: The Successful Extradition of Alberto Fujimori.” Cynthia McClintock of George Washington University and Jo-Marie Burt of George Mason University commented.

On June 25, Siti Nurjanah, co-founder of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Democracy in Surabaya, Indonesia, gave a talk entitled “Grappling with the Rise of Political Islam: Threats or Opportunities for Indonesian Women?” Gadis Arivia, professor of philosophy and human rights at the University of Indonesia, offered comments.

On June 30, Ronojoy Sen, senior assistant editor of the editorial page at the Times of India, the largest and most widely read English-language daily newspaper in India, spoke on “Losing Trust: Understanding Popular Disaffection with India’s Politicians.”

On July 1, Ekaterina Osipova, associate professor at Immanuel Kant State University in Kaliningrad, Russia, gave a presentation entitled “Combating a Hidden Evil: The Fight Against Human Trafficking in Russia.” Tatyana Volchetskaya of Immanuel Kant State University commented.

On July 13, Gilbert Maoundonodji, coordinator of the Group for Alternative Research and Monitoring of the Chad-Cameroon Petroleum Project (GRAMP/TC), a think tank in N’Djamena, Chad, gave a talk on “Building Democracy in Resource-Rich Countries: The Case of Chad’s Oil Exploitation.” Joseph Siegle, director of research for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, offered comments.

On July 15, Omar Afifi Soliman, a Supreme Court lawyer and prominent human-rights activist from Egypt, led a roundtable discussion entitled “Developing a Democratic Dialogue in Egypt and the Middle East.” [End Page 186]