Hong Kong “Election” Update
On 4 March 2002, Chinese premier Zhu Rongji signed a decree officially naming Tung Chee Hwa to a second five-year term as chief executive of Hong Kong. Tung won his second term when 714 members of the 800-seat Election Committee chose him as their only nominee for the post, effectively ensuring that he would stand unopposed. The Election Committee itself is chosen by Hong Kong’s narrow electorate of 200,000 residents, most of whom are chosen from so-called functional constituencies heavily influenced by Beijing. (For background information, see William Overholt, “Hong Kong: The Perils of Semidemocracy,” in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Democracy.)
Noting the narrowness of the franchise and a recent Baptist University poll indicating that only 16 percent of respondents supported Tung’s continuance in office, while 56 percent said they wanted him to go, Martin C.M. Lee of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong denounced the whole process as “phony,” “a sham,” and “an insult to the intelligence of the 6.5 million people of Hong Kong.”
Egyptian Activist Released
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian sociologist and prodemocracy activist arrested in June 2000 and convicted of receiving foreign funding without permission, was granted a retrial on February 6 by Egypt’s highest appeals court and released from prison. (For more details on the circumstances surrounding his arrest, see his “A Reply to My Accusers,” in the October 2000 issue of the Journal of Democracy.) Dr. Ibrahim’s supporters hope that this heralds the end of his ordeal.
On a related note, Freedom House recently announced that Dr. Ibrahim would receive its first Bette Bao Lord Prize for Writing in the Cause of Freedom. The award was given in recognition of his “intellectual [End Page 189] integrity and personal courage” in “zeroing in on such themes as the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities.”
New Leadership Handbook
The Women’s Learning Partnership, a U.S.-based NGO dedicated to empowering women in the developing world, recently published Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women. The handbook, authored by Mahnaz Afkhami, Ann Eisenberg, and Haleh Vaziri, outlines a curriculum for interactive leadership workshops for women who aspire to create egalitarian, democratic, and pluralistic societies. (See www.learningpartnership.org.)
Balkan Think-Tank Meeting
On February 5, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Dayton Peace Accords Project sponsored an international workshop on “Securing the Balkans: The Unfinished Agenda.” In addition to a keynote address by Mircea Geoana, foreign minister of Romania, subregional panels were held on Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo; Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina; and Albania and Bulgaria.
Elections in the DRC
The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa organized a workshop on January 20-24 in Kinshasa, entitled “Electoral Perspectives and the Process of Democratisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Lessons from the Southern African Development Community.” The meeting focused on the possible lessons that the experience of Southern African countries might offer for future elections in Congo. The keynote address was given by Congolese president Joseph Kabila. (See www.eisa.org.za.)
Democratic Studies Award
The Committee on Concepts and Methods of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Mexico City have announced a new triannual Award for Conceptual Innovation in Democratic Studies. The award will be given every three years at the IPSA World Congress, beginning in July 2003. Any category of formal publication may be submitted, and the ideas of “conceptual innovation” and “democratic studies” are to be understood broadly. For more information, see www.concepts- methods.org.
Report on NED’s International Forum
On January 11, the Journal of Democracy and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace cosponsored a talk by Thomas Carothers, vice-president for studies at Carnegie, on “Democracy Promotion: [End Page 190] the End of the Transition Paradigm?” (Carothers’s article on the same topic appeared in the January 2002 issue of the Journal.) The event was moderated by Marc F. Plattner, editor of the Journal, and featured comments by Ken Wollack, president of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and Guillermo O’Donnell, Helen Kellogg Professor of Government at the University of Notre Dame.
On February 14-16, the Democracy Forum for East Asia (a collaborative program of the National Endowment for Democracy and South Korea’s Sejong Institute) held its fifth working conference, entitled “Civil Society, Political Parties, and the State: Balancing Democratic Development in Asia.” The working conference was cosponsored by the Asia Foundation and Thailand’s King Prajadhipok’s Institute, which hosted the meeting in Bangkok. Conference participants consisted of NGO leaders, scholars, and government officials from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, as well as representatives from Poland and the United States.
On February 21, the Forum hosted a luncheon discussion with Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Ramin Jahanbegloo. His talk was entitled “Intellectuals and the Struggle for Democracy in Iran.” On February 28, Hilton L. Root, a consultant with the U.S. Treasury Department, spoke on “What Democracy Can Do for East Asia.” The talk was based on his article of the same title in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Democracy.
On March 11, the International Forum sponsored a conference entitled “Islamism, Democracy, and Autocracy: The Post-9/11 Debate.” The topics of the two sessions were “The Record of Middle East Studies: Successes and Failures” and “New Directions in the Study of Islam and Politics.” Speakers and commentators included Ibrahim Karawan, director of the Middle East Center at the University of Utah; Steven Heydemann, Columbia University; Laith Kubba, National Endowment for Democracy; Graham Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Daniel Brumberg, Georgetown University; Vickie Langohr, College of the Holy Cross; Ellen Laipson, vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council; and Samer Shehata, Georgetown University.
This spring, the International Forum is pleased to welcome the remaining six members of its inaugural class of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows: Ivliane Khain-drava (Georgia), Yuriy Krynytskyy (Ukraine), Charlie James Hughes (Sierra Leone), Ana Julia Ramos (Colombia), Ndubisi Obiorah (Nigeria), and Vladimir Solonari (Moldova). On March 14, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the National Italian American Foundation hosted a lunch on Capitol Hill to introduce the fellowship program, and the first group of fellows, to members of Congress. The event also honored former president Ronald Reagan and the late congressman Dante Fascell, two of the major forces behind NED’s creation.
Copyright © 2002 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press