News and Notes

Issue Date January 1995
Volume 6
Issue 1
Page Numbers 188-91
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Chinese Dissidents Honored at RFK Awards Ceremony

On November 18, Ren Wanding and Wei Jingsheng were granted the 1994 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Established in 1984, the award honors individuals who have fought against overwhelming odds to increase respect for human rights. Because both recipients are currently in prison in China, fellow dissident Liu Qing, who currently heads the New York-based Human Rights in China, accepted the award on their behalf.

Ren Wanding, founder of the China Human Rights League, was a leading figure in the 1978–79 Democracy Wall movement and campaigned for the release of political prisoners during the prodemocracy movement in 1989. He was first detained in 1979 after denouncing the government’s arrest of co-recipient Wei Jingsheng and spent the next four years in prison. He was arrested again as a result of his 1989 activities and is now serving a seven-year sentence. He is reported to be seriously ill.

Wei Jingsheng’s involvement in the Democracy Wall movement led to a 15-year prison sentence, much of which was served in solitary confinement. In September 1993, he was unexpectedly released and promptly resumed his advocacy of human rights. Security forces returned him to prison on 1 April 1994, however, and have held him incommunicado and without charge ever since.

In his acceptance speech, Liu Qing emphasized the inspirational role that both recipients have played in the struggle for the protection of human rights in China. He also reiterated the need for sustained efforts to free the awardees as well as their jailed colleagues.

NSF Report on Democratization

A report prepared for the National Science Foundation entitled Democratization: A Strategic Plan for Global Research [End Page 188] on the Transformation and Consolidation of Democracies has recently been released. The report is a synthesis of the papers and proceedings of a workshop convened at the NSF on 8 December 1993 to determine whether there was a need for a major NSF initiative on democratization. In response to the recommendations outlined in the report, the NSF has allocated $2 million to research on the topic.

Copies of the report and further information can be obtained from Frank Scioli, Program Director, Political Science, National Science Foundation; phone, 703-306-1765, ext. 6995; e-mail,

IPSA Research Committee Formed

A new research committee on “Democratization in Comparative Perspective” was established in September to succeed the International Political Science Association’s study group on the topic that was founded in 1988. The new committee will continue the study group’s exploration of the conditions conducive to the emergence and survival of political democracy, possible strategies for promoting the spread and consolidation of democracy, the various forms that democracy takes in different regions, and theories and models of democratization.

The committee will publish a regular newsletter and has established an electronic bulletin board. Regional conferences are planned for April 1995 (Brazil), late 1995 (India), and 1996 (Eastern Europe, possibly Russia). For membership information, contact Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Institute of Political Science, Philipps-University, 35032 Marburg, Germany; phone, 064-21-28-43-97; fax, 064-21-28-89-13; e-mail, BERG-SCH@nws.fb03.Uni-Marburg.DE.

Democratization Research Fellowships

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of California, Irvine, a five-year fellowship grant of $112,500 per year to support Ph.D. students doing research in the field of democratization and democratic politics. The NSF fellowships will be available to students entering graduate programs in the fall of 1995 and subsequent years. For more information, contact NSF Graduate Training Fellowships, Focused Research Program on Democratization, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA 92717.

Three Conferences Focus on the Americas

The United States Information Agency and the North-South Center of the University of Miami sponsored a three-day encuentro (November 11–13) in Annapolis, Maryland, entitled “A New Moment in the Americas.” The conference [End Page 189] was based on the premise that Latin America and the United States have reached a historical watershed. A new convergence around free markets, democracy, and respect for cultural differences now presents an unprecedented opportunity to explore solutions to shared problems. Thirty prominent cultural, intellectual, and political leaders from throughout the region gathered to examine issues related to civil society and civic culture. Roundtable discussions and presentations addressed four main topics: “State and Civil Society in the Americas,” “Diversity, Difference, and Civility,” “A New World Culture?” and “Is There a New Moment?”

Papers presented at the “New Moment” conference formed the basis of a book of the same title edited by Robert S. Leiken and published by the North-South Center and Transaction Publishers. The volume, which includes a foreword by U.S. Vice-President Al Gore (who hosted the conference’s opening session), was presented to the elected leaders of the Western Hemisphere at Miami’s Summit of the Americas in December. Copies of the book can be requested from either the New Moment Project (phone: 202-588-8560) or the North-South Center (phone: 305-284-6868).

On September 12–13, a conference on “Democratic Governance in the Americas” was held in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Inter-American Dialogue, the meeting focused on factors that inhibit the consolidation of democracy, the effects of various governmental systems and constitutional designs, strategies for effecting democratic transitions in nondemocratic states, and civil-military relations. Twenty-six papers by leading scholars from throughout the region were presented.

On November 3–4, scholars and political figures met at Johns Hopkins’ Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., to discuss “The International Community and Police Reform in Central America and Haiti: Demilitarizing Public Order and Protecting Human Rights.” The conference was sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America, the North-South Center, and SAIS. A report on the meeting and copies of the papers presented (in either English or Spanish) can be obtained by contacting the Publications Director, Washington Office on Latin America, 110 Maryland Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20002.

Democracy Conference Held in South Korea

On October 28–29, the Korean Association of International Studies hosted a conference in Seoul entitled “Twenty-first Century and Democracy: Theory, Reality, and Tasks.” Topics addressed included the current status and future direction of democratic theory; comparative views of democracy; cultural, religious, and regional [End Page 190] challenges to democracy; democracy in South Korea; and democracy’s successes and failures. Papers were presented by a number of Korean scholars, as well as Robert A. Dahl, Larry Diamond, John Dunn, Ted Robert Gurr, K.J. Holsti, Giovanni Sartori, and other foreign participants.

Report on NED’s International Forum

Autumn was a busy and fruitful season for the National Endowment for Democracy’s new International Forum for Democratic Studies. In September, Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Democracy, the third Journal of Democracy book, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press. In January 1995, the Journal will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a panel discussion on the future of democracy and a reception.

In October 1994, the Forum sponsored a day-long conference that examined the prospects for political change in China. The meeting was attended by 35 leading scholars, government officials, foundation executives, and Chinese emigrés. Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord delivered a luncheon address. A report describing the conference proceedings is available from the Forum.

On December 7, the Forum sponsored a second day-long conference, this time focusing on the troubled situation in Nigeria. It brought together 35 prominent scholars, government officials, human rights advocates, and representatives of Nigeria’s democracy movement. Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, gave the luncheon address. A report on the conference will be available from the Forum in late January 1995.

The Forum is planning a major international research conference on “Civil-Military Relations and the Consolidation of Democracy.” The conference, which is being cosponsored with the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, will be held in Washington, D.C., on 13–14 March 1995.

The Forum’s Democracy Resource Center (DRC) has developed rapidly over the last several months. The DRC library now houses over 2,000 books, reports, and periodicals as well as an extensive collection of hard-to-find newsletters and other materials produced by prodemocracy groups around the world. Also under development is a database containing information on grants made by the NED and other democracy-promoting organizations. The catalogue of library holdings and the database will become accessible to groups around the world after the DRC connects to the Internet in early 1995. The Internet hook-up will also be the first step toward the creation of an electronic “democracy bulletin board” that will facilitate global interchange among democratic scholars and activists.


Copyright © 1995 National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University Press