Election Symposium Held in the Philippines
Election officials, politicians, and academics gathered in Manila on January 26–29 for a “Symposium on Asian Elections in the Twenty-first Century.” Cosponsored by the Washington-based International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) and the Philippine Commission on Elections, the meeting drew participants from more than 20 countries to exchange information and ideas on how to improve election systems in Asia and throughout the world.
President Fidel V. Ramos of the Philippines gave the keynote speech, entitled “Facilitating the Promise of Democracy.” President Ramos spoke in particular about the importance of speeding up the process of counting ballots.
Also speaking at the symposium were Emigdio S. Tanjuatco of the Philippine House of Representatives and election officials from a number of countries, including Mongolia, Nepal, and the United States. Topics discussed included electoral reform, campaign finance and disclosure, the role of political parties in democratic elections, and modernizing the administration of elections. IFES is currently working with the Philippine Commission on Elections on ways to increase the efficiency of the electoral process, including the computerization of election returns.
For further information about the conference, contact Michael Boda of IFES at (202) 828–8507, or visit the IFES World Wide Web site (located at http://www.ifes.org).
Conference in Morocco Examines Globalization
A conference on “U.S.-Arab Relations and the Challenge of Globalization” was held at the King Abdulaziz Foundation in Casablanca, Morocco, on February 14–16. Sponsored by the Foundation on Democratization and Political Change in the Middle East in cooperation with the Centre d’Etudes de l’Orient Contemporain of La Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris III, [End Page 189] the meeting addressed different approaches to globalization, regional integration, economic reform, and political liberalization. Participants explored the paradoxical effects of globalization—which has both unified and fragmented the international community—in the context of the relationship between the United States and the Arab world.
Opening remarks were delivered by André Azoulay, advisor to King Hassan II of Morocco. Other speakers and discussants included Bourhan Ghalioun (Université de Paris III); Thomas Friedman (New York Times); Mohammed Charfi (Association for Maghreb Dialogue, Tunis); Paul Wolfowitz (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies); Abdelhamid Brahimi (former prime minister of Algeria); Albert Fishlow (Council on Foreign Relations); Fatima Mernissi (Institut Universitaire de Recherche Scientifique, Rabat); Carl Gershman (National Endowment for Democracy); and Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi (Al Mustakilla, London).
Human Rights Activists Meet in New Delhi
More than a hundred activists representing 28 countries gathered on 6–8 December 1996 in New Delhi for the third Asia-Pacific NGO Human Rights Congress. The delegates passed a number of resolutions calling for greater respect for human rights and reaffirming the principle of universal human rights as set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and echoed at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna and the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing.
Specific issues addressed in the resolutions included child labor and prostitution, national-security laws, and women’s rights. Of particular concern to participants were the denial of the universality of human rights by some Asian governments, and the use of national-security laws to suspend fundamental rights and to oppress minorities. Delegates stated that they were “deeply concerned by all forms of human rights abuses in the Asia-Pacific region” and declared that “no regional human rights mechanism must ever place any limitation whatsoever on the implementation of international human rights standards.”
For additional information on the 1996 Asia-Pacific NGO Human Rights Congress, or to obtain copies of the final resolutions, contact the Asia-Pacific Human Rights NGOs Facilitating Team, P.O. Box 26, Bungthonglang, Bangkok 10242, Thailand; phone, (662) 377 9357; fax, (662) 374 0464; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report on NED’s International Forum
On February 28, the Forum hosted a half-day conference on “Democracy in South Asia.” The meeting featured presentations by [End Page 190] Ambassador Teresita Schaffer, director of the Foreign Service Institute and former U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives (on Sri Lanka); Pratap Mehta, assistant professor of government and social studies at Harvard (on India); D. Hugh Evans, a British Foreign Service officer currently posted to Washington (on Pakistan); and Ambassador Howard Schaffer, director of studies at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University (on Bangladesh). The presenters were joined in wide-ranging discussions by more than 30 participants. A report on the meeting will be published this spring.
On January 17, Forum visiting fellow E. Gyimah-Boadi, who had just returned from a lengthy visit to his native Ghana, led a luncheon discussion on “The Elections in Ghana: Implications for Democratic Consolidation.” On March 24, Vesna Pusic, professor of sociology at the University of Zagreb and E.L. Wiegand Visiting Professor of Democratization at Georgetown University, was scheduled to lead a luncheon discussion on “Croatia’s Struggle for Democracy.”
On June 3, the Forum will launch a lecture series on democracy entitled “The Democratic Invention,” cosponsored with Lisbon’s Mário Soares Foundation and the Luso-American Development Foundation. This inaugural event, to be held at the U.S. House of Representatives, will include a keynote lecture by Samuel P. Huntington and a panel discussion involving Portuguese and American participants. It will be followed by a reception honoring former Portuguese president Mário Soares for his contributions to democracy. Subsequent lectures by leading international experts on democracy (which follow upon a similar series already under way in Lisbon) will be held monthly at George Washington University, beginning with a September 15 talk by Seymour Martin Lipset.
The Forum recently published several conference reports based on meetings it cosponsored in 1996. Constructing Democracy and Markets: East Asia and Latin America, an expanded version of an earlier report that includes memoranda prepared by the conference speakers, resulted from a meeting the Forum cosponsored with the Pacific Council on International Policy in January 1996. “Democracy in East Asia” summarizes a major conference the Forum cosponsored in March 1996 with the Japan Institute of International Affairs and the Institute of Public Policy Studies (Thailand). A book based on this conference will be published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in the spring of 1998. “Consolidating Democracy in Taiwan” is the product of a conference the Forum cosponsored with the Institute for National Policy Research (Taiwan) in April 1996. The Forum will also publish in the near future a report based on a conference it cosponsored with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in September 1996 entitled “Five Years into the Transition: Where Is Russia Headed?”