News and Notes

Issue Date July 1997
Volume 8
Issue 3
Page Numbers 189-90
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Ditchley Conferees Examine Transitions

On January 17–19, 50 scholars, current or former government officials, and activists from around the world gathered in Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire, England, for a Ditchley Foundation conference on “Nations in Transition to Democracy: The Management of Radical Transformation.”

Participants included former Labour Party leader Denis Callaghan, Stephen Cox (Westminster Foundation for Democracy), Carl Gershman (National Endowment for Democracy), former chancellor of the exchequer Douglas Howe, and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. Drawing on their diverse experiences, participants examined topics such as the general state of democracy in the contemporary world, the relationship between economic and political development, the role of foreign assistance in establishing and consolidating new democracies, the importance of promoting the institutions of civil society, the role of truth commissions and war-crimes tribunals, and the problems of civil-military relations and military roles following transition.

Michael Pinto-Duschinsky served as rapporteur; copies of his report on the meeting are available from the American Ditchley Foundation, 666 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3733, New York, NY 10103; phone, (212) 541-3791; fax, (212) 541-3751.

Civic Educators Meet in Pretoria

More than 120 people from 15 African countries, the United States, Europe, and Asia gathered in Pretoria, South Africa, on May 11–14 for the first CIVITAS Africa conference. CIVITAS is an international group devoted to strengthening citizenship and civic education around the world. The conference was sponsored by CIVITAS and the U.S. Information Agency and was hosted by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.

The meeting was opened by Graça Machel, president of the [End Page 189] Foundation of Community Development in Mozambique. Ernest Green, chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation, delivered the keynote address. Among the topics discussed were the place of civic education within traditional African cultures, operating an NGO on a limited budget, and the relationship between NGOs and governments.

Meeting participants began planning for three subregional conferences to be held in Senegal, Ethiopia, and Mozambique within the next 18 months.

Report on NED’s International Forum

On June 3, the Forum launched a lecture series entitled “The Democratic Invention,” co-sponsored with Lisbon’s Mário Soares Foundation and the Luso-American Development Foundation. The inaugural event, held at the U.S. House of Representatives, was attended by more than 250 people. It included a keynote lecture by Samuel P. Huntington, a U.S.-Portuguese roundtable, and a reception honoring former Portuguese president Mário Soares. On June 26–29, the Forum co-sponsored a conference in Vienna with the Institute for Advanced Studies (Vienna) on “Institutionalizing Horizontal Accountability: How Democracies Can Fight Corruption and the Abuse of Power.” More information on both events will appear in a future issue.

The lecture series will continue in the fall with a September 15 talk by Seymour Martin Lipset on “George Washington and the Founding of American Democracy.” The preliminary fall schedule also includes talks by Gertrude Himmelfarb on “Democratic Remedies for Democratic Disorders” (October 6), François Furet on “Democracy and Utopia” (November 3), and Bronislaw Geremek on “Postcommunism and Democracy in Central Europe” (December 8). The lectures will be held at George Washington University and are open to the public.

On September 24, the Forum will hold a conference in Washington on “Indian Democracy at Fifty” that will bring together leading scholars and policy makers from the United States and India. The meeting will be followed by a reception on Capitol Hill.

The Forum recently held a series of discussions featuring Forum visiting fellows. On May 7, Aymen Khalifa spoke on freedom of expression in Egypt. On May 14, Dan Brumberg spoke on Iran. On May 28, Shaha Aliriza (until recently NED’s senior program officer for the Middle East) gave a personal account of Islam and democracy. On June 9, Chieko Kitagawa Otsuru spoke on democratic assistance and foreign policy. On June 18, Ibrahim Idris Ibrahim spoke on human rights and democracy-building in Ethiopia.

Finally, the Forum recently published Five Years into the Transition: Where Is Russia Headed?, a report based on a conference the Forum co-sponsored in September 1996 with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.