News and Notes

Issue Date April 1993
Volume 4
Issue 2
Page Numbers 141-43
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NED Convenes Meeting of Democracy Foundations

The Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) recently hosted an international gathering of publicly funded nongovernmental foundations that seek to promote democracy. The meeting was the first of its kind to bring together these institutions which, though varied in structures, constituencies, and mandates, share the goal of helping to strengthen democratic government around the globe.

In addition to NED and its four core institutes (the Center for International Private Enterprise, the Free Trade Union Institute, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs), organizations participating in the February 4-6 meeting included the Konrad Adenauer, Friedrich Ebert, Friedrich Naumann, and Hanns Seidel foundations of Germany; the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development of Canada; and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy of Great Britain. (The director of Japan’s Institute for International Affairs also participated as an observer.)

The meeting’s opening session focused on global strategies for democratization and featured noted political scientist Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard University as guest speaker. It was followed by four regional roundtable discussions focusing on how to maximize the effectiveness of democracy-building projects in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America. Each session was chaired by a different foundation and featured opening remarks by a regional expert–Larry Diamond for Africa, George Soros for Central and Eastern Europe, Steven Sestanovich for the former Soviet Union, and Juan Linz for Latin America.

The seminar’s concluding session focused on setting the groundwork for future sharing of information and cooperation among the participating foundations. [End Page 141]

IPSA Study Group on Democratization

The study group on “Democratization in Comparative Perspective” of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) now consists of more than 150 scholars from all parts of the world. Formed in 1988, it is chaired by Tatu Vanhanen of Finland and Dirk Berg-Schlosser of Germany. Among the group’s activities is a series of conferences that emphasize the specific historical, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions of democratizing regions and their problems and prospects.

The first such conference was held at the Center for Democratic Studies at Abuja, Nigeria, in September 1992. It assembled about 100 academics from a large variety of African countries, including, for the first time at any comparable occasion, several representatives from South Africa.

The general theme of the conference was broken down into several subthemes that included: theories of democracy, models of democratization, civil society, the military context, the institutional bases of transition, external pressures, and future prospects for democracy in Africa. These subthemes were discussed at length in several concurrent panels, and each panel produced a set of findings and recommendations for the final communiqué, which were discussed and approved at the plenary concluding session. In addition, three major roundtables were held that specifically discussed various aspects of the transition program that is now being carried out in Nigeria.

Similar conferences are currently being planned on problems of democratization in Eastern Europe, possibly to be held at Moscow in the autumn of 1993, and on prospects of further democratic consolidation in Latin America, probably to take place at Rio de Janeiro toward the end of this year. Two panels have been scheduled for the next IPSA World Congress at Berlin in August 1994,  one dealing with “Regional Conditions of Democracy: Conclusions and Prospects,” and the other with “Prospects of Democratization in a Global Perspective.”

For further information, write Professor Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Institute of Political Science, Philipps-University Marburg, Wilhelm-Röpke-Strasse 6, 3550 Marburg, Germany; or phone 06421-28-4397; or fax 06421-28-7050.

Center Publishes Newsletter on Arab Civil Society

The Ibn Khaldoun Center for Developmental Studies of Cairo, Egypt, has been examining the relationship between civil society and democratization in Arab countries. As part of this project, the Ibn Khaldoun Center publishes a newsletter called Civil Society: Democratic Transformation in the Arab World. [End Page 142]

The newsletter aims to monitor and analyze the evolution of civil society and democratization in the Arab world and to popularize the concept of civil society among influential Arabs. Civil Society contains news, analysis, and pertinent book reviews, and also disseminates the findings of Ibn Khaldoun Center studies.

Launched in January 1992, Civil Society now appears monthly in both Arabic and English-language versions and has a circulation of about 3,000. For subscription information, write Saad Eddin Ibrahim, P.O. Box 13 Mokattam, Cairo, Egypt; or phone 20-2-506-1617; or fax 20-2-506-1030.

Nobel Laureates Support Aung San Suu Kyi

Seven Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including South African archbishop Desmond Tutu, former
Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, and the Dalai Lama, traveled to Thailand on 16-20 February 1993 to call upon Burma’s ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council to free 1991 prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi. The Burmese democratic leader has been under house arrest since July of 1989.

Denied entrance to Burma, the group traveled to the Thai-Burmese border to interview Burmese refugees about political and social conditions in their country. Afterward, members of the group flew to Geneva, Switzerland, to report to the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Commission.

Following their mission, the laureates agreed to seek the support of world leaders for Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy in Burma. Canada’s International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, which organized the mission, is coordinating these upcoming activities as well.

Vienna Dialogue on Democracy

The Austrian Institute of Advanced Studies has announced that the first Vienna Dialogue on
Democracy will be held 7-10 July 1994. The topic for the meeting is “The Politics of Antipolitics”–the growing popular disenchantment in both old and new democracies, and the efforts of “neopopulists” to take advantage of this sentiment.

The Institute has issued a call for original manuscripts that offer new theoretical insights and innovative methodological perspectives on these questions. Interdisciplinary and comparative analyses are highly welcomed. Papers should be no more than 25 typed pages in length.

The deadline for submitting proposals (which should be accompanied by a biographical statement) is 31 October 1993. For further information, contact: Dr. Andreas Schedler, Institute of Advanced Studies, Department of Political Science, Stumpergasse 56, A-1060 Vienna, Austria; or telephone 43-1- 599-910; or fax 43-1-597-06-35. [End Page 143]


Copyright © 1993 National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University Press