NED Democracy Award
On June 22, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to the people of Tunisia and Egypt who struggled and sacrificed for a democratic future.
The award was accepted by Jamel Bettaieb and Zahraa Said. Bettaieb is a Tunisian activist, teacher, and trade unionist from Sidi Bouzid, the hometown of Mohamed Bouazizi, whose death ignited Tunisia’s revolution. Said is the sister of Khaled Said, the young Egyptian blogger whose murder by the police in June 2010 led to the creation of the “We Are All Khalid Said” Facebook page that became a catalyst for Egypt’s revolution.
Remarks were presented at the ceremony by Undersecretary of State William J. Burns and congressmen Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Steve Chabot (R-OH).
Prior to the ceremony, both award recipients met with U.S. president Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
The award ceremony was preceded by a roundtable discussion entitled “Beyond the Arab Spring.” Participants included Jamel Bettaieb and Zahraa Said, as well as Hussain Abdullah of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain; Aly Abuzaakuk of the Libyan Human and Political Development Forum; Atiaf Al-Wazir, a Yemeni activist and blogger; Sahar Aziz of the Egyptian American Rule of Law Association; and Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian activist and visiting scholar at George Washington University. For more information, please see: www.ned.org/events/democracy-award/2011-democracy-award.
Voices From Congo
On July 26, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Eastern Congo Initiative, and NED [End Page 184] organized a conference entitled “Voices From Congo: The Road Ahead.” Panelists assessed the human-rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and discussed the challenges and opportunities related to the country’s upcoming November elections.
Participants included Scott Campbell of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Catherine Kathungu of the Association of Female Lawyers for the Rights of Women and Children, which promotes legal assistance to female and child victims of human-rights abuses in the DRC; and Donat M’Baya, founder of the Kinshasa-based Journalists in Danger, which promotes and defends freedom of the press.
At the concluding ceremony, Carl Gershman, president of NED, presented its Democracy Service Medal posthumously to Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, the late director of La Voix des Sans Voix in the DRC, who was killed in June 2010. His widow Annie Chebeya accepted the award on behalf of her late husband. For more information, please see: www.ned.org/events/voices-from-congo-the-road-ahead.
Vitali Silitski (1972–2011)
Vitali Silitski, former Reagan-Fascell Fellow and frequent Journal author from Belarus, passed away on June 11. Director of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Studies and a renowned political scientist, he produced more than a hundred publications on democratization and authoritarianism in the former Soviet space. In 2003, he was forced out of the European Humanities University in Minsk, where he had been an associate professor, after he openly criticized President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s government. A panel discussion on the future of Belarus, including a tribute to Vitali Silitski, was held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on September 8. Further details will be provided in the January issue of the Journal.
Elena Bonner (1923–2011)
Russian dissident and human-rights campaigner Elena Bonner passed away on June 18. She was the widow of dissident nuclear physicist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Andrei Sakharov. They were sent into internal exile in the isolated Soviet city of Gorky (Sakharov in 1980, Bonner in 1984), where they remained until 1986 when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev allowed them to return to Moscow. Following her husband’s death in 1989, Bonner divided her time between Moscow and the United States, while continuing to call for democratic reforms in Russia. She received NED’s Democracy Award in 1995.
Community of Democracies Ministerial Meeting
On July 1, the Community of Democracies held its sixth Ministerial [End Page 185] Meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, culminating a week of meetings and forums held by civil society representatives from around the world.
Heads of state, foreign ministers, high-level diplomats, and civil society activists attended the Ministerial Meeting, at which the Community of Democracies adopted the Vilnius Declaration.
The declaration emphasizes the Community’s commitment to strengthen its activities and endorses the Democracy Partnership Challenge, a new initiative to help other countries make the transition to democracy. For more information and to read the Vilnius Declaration, please see: www.ccd21.org/activities/vilnius_ministerial.html.
In “The Freedom House Survey for 2010: Democracy Under Duress,” which appeared in the April 2011 issue of the Journal, the table on pp. 22–23 misclassified several countries. The Maldives, the Philippines, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, and Tonga should have been marked as electoral democracies, and Sri Lanka should not have been. In additon, Yemen should have been listed as Not Free. The editors regret these errors.
The article “Uganda: Museveni’s Triumph and Weakness” by Angelo Izama in the July 2011 Journal issue should have listed Michael Wilkerson as a coauthor. The editors regret the omission.
NED’s International Forum
On June 7, the Forum, together with the Korea Institute for National Unification, organized a conference on “Democracy Assistance for North Korea.” Panelists focused on possible scenarios of regime transition, the transition experiences of other countries, and recommendations for the international community. Participants included Francis Fukuyama of Stanford University; Stephan Haggard of the University of California–San Diego; Ho Yeol Yoo of Korea University; and Jae Jean Suh, president of the Korea Institute for National Unification.
On July 27, the Forum organized a roundtable discussion on the situation in Libya. The meeting brought together analysts and practitioners specializing in Libyan affairs and leading experts on the challenges of post-conflict societies, democratic transitions, and electoral and constitutional design in order to identify some possible paths toward the emergence of a democratic Libya.
The Forum hosted a luncheon meeting on June 23 featuring Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Anne-Stella Fomumbod, founder and chief executive officer of Inter-faith Vision Foundation, a Cameroonian NGO that promotes human rights and democracy. She gave a presentation entitled “From the Grassroots to the Nation: Promoting Women’s Rights and Political Participation in Cameroon.” Michelle Bekkering, director of the Women’s Democracy Network at the International Republican Institute, commented. [End Page 186]