August 2005

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August 2005

Contents

 

 
Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
Urgent Appeal to Save the Arab Institute for Human Rights
On July 25, 2005, the Community of Democracies issued an urgent appeal to save the Arab Institute for Human Rights. The appeal is a reaction against Tunisia authorities' use of antiterrorism laws as a pretext to freeze the assets of the Arab Institute, an Arab nongovernmental organization founded in 1989 initiative of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, the Arab Lawyers' Union, and the Tunisian Human Rights League, with support from the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, UNESCO and UNICEF. The Community of Democracies is a coalition of democratic countries, initiated in 1999 with the common goal of strengthening democratic institutions and values at the national, regional, and global levels.

Go to: www.santiago20005.org

Bhutanese Group Appeals to UN for Repatriation of Refugees in Nepal
The Peoples Forum for Human Rights and Development (PFHRD) appealed to the 57th Session of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, to take urgent measures to repatriate the Bhutanese refugees now languishing in eastern Nepal camps. In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the 57th Session, Mr. S.K.Pradhan, Secretary General of PFHRD, discussed the situation of 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who have remained stateless for over a decade.

For more information, contact: skpfhrd@mos.com.np

 
 
Announcements & Events
 
Idasa/Fairlady Magazine Conversations: The Human Cost of HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS not only threaten an unprecedented number of lives in sub-Saharan Africa, but also undermine the institutions that govern and sustain democracy. As the effects of the epidemic escalate, people may feel or experience a threat to their ability to participate in the economy and to participate actively in democratic processes. The Institute for Democracy in South Africa's (Idasa) Governance & AIDS Program and Fairlady Magazine have thus joined forces to encourage and enrich the discussion between citizens and South Africa's decision makers about HIV/AIDS. The Idasa /Fairlady Conversation Series will be an opportunity for members of HIV/AIDS communities to engage with people of influence and to provide a forum that will explore issues beyond the health system. The focus of the first conversation will be on how the HIV/AIDS epidemic has forced South African society to reconsider and redefine the roles and responsibilities of women, men, children and employers.

For more information, contact: vasanthie@idasa.org.za

Seminar on Ensuring Public Access in Latin-America
On July 18-21, 2005, the Access Initiative (TAI) hosted a seminar in Mexico City on "Implementation of Principle 10 in Latin-America." Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development was adopted in 1992 to ensure public access to information, participation in decision making, and access to justice as key principles of environmental governance. This meeting took place within the framework of TAI, a global coalition of civil society groups that promote the accelerated and enhanced implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration in different countries around the world. Civil society representatives from Latin America countries shared the assessments on their governments' performance regarding the implementation of Principle 10. The discussion resulted in the development of national and regional strategies.

Go to: www.accessinitiative.org

ICNL to Host Global Forum on Civil Society Law
The International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL) will host a Global Forum on Civil Society Law on November 17-19, 2005, in Istanbul, Turkey. The Forum will draw together approximately 100 leading experts in the field of civil society law, and will address five thematic issues: Reform and Advocacy; Contemporary Issues and CSO law; CSO Sustainability and the Law, CSO Accountability, Transparency, and Regulations; and CSO-Government Relations. In addition, the Forum will include regional workshops to enable participants to share experiences and develop regional networks of civil society law reformers.

Go to: www.icnl.org/globalforum

 
 
Civic Education
 
Egyptian Group Shares Its Experience in Human Rights Education
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE), working on human rights, and democracy development in Egypt, share the experience of its project, "Promoting Human Rights Culture among School Children." The project targeted children between ages 12 and 18 in over 20 public schools in the Cairo Governorate. As part of this project, students designed posters expressing different principles and articles from the International Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Egyptian Constitution.

The designs were then printed on covers of notebooks and distributed to students. In addition, the organization facilitated the volunteer efforts of students and teachers in establishing Human Rights Clubs (HRC) in 20 schools and organized a Human Rights Training Camp for members of the clubs in July 2005. Responding to students' increasing interest, EACPE expects to work with more schools in the future.

For more information, contact: cpe_eg@yahoo.com

 
 
Economic Reform & Business Sector
 
Conference Report: Regional Corporate Governance Forum
A report on the Middle East and North Africa Regional Corporate Governance Forum, organized by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), is now available online. The event brought regional private sector associations together to highlight regional private sector-driven initiatives advancing corporate governance reform. Nearly 50 private sector representatives and members of the media participated from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Participants discussed regional trends and outlined the next steps in corporate governance reforms in the region. Top priorities included the need to work closely with small and medium-sized enterprises and family-owned businesses in implementing the reforms, and to introduce corporate governance into school curricula, promote regional cooperation, and increase private sector participation in overall economic decision making.

Go to: www.cipe.org/regional/mena/RCGFReport.pdf

Worldblu Forum: Rewriting the Rules of Business for a Democratic Age
The WorldBlu Forum is a global conference for next generation leaders dedicated to exploring organizational democracy and freedom-centered leadership. It is an event connecting highly successful CEOs, pioneers, and visionaries with the next generation of business leaders shaping our world. The goal is to explore the changing design of business in a democratic age, ultimately inspiring the building of 1000 democratic companies around the world by 2020.

For more information: www.worldblu.com

 
 
Elections
 
New Kenyan NGO Focuses on Elections
Elections International is a voluntary nongovernmental organization in Kenya that strives to build peace and enhance democratic practices by empowering citizens to conduct transparent electoral processes and services. Elections International was formed this year by citizens from diverse professional backgrounds with experience as electoral officers, election observers, civic education providers, and human rights advocates. The organization's objectives are to empower citizens to conduct and participate in free and fair elections; monitor and observe electoral processes; analyze and advocate for reforms in electoral policies and statutes; build the capacities of electoral management bodies, electoral reform organizations, political parties, legislatures, and judiciaries in matters pertaining to elections; and to build partnerships with organizations with similar objectives.

For more information, contact: electint@yahoo.com

 
 
Human Rights
 
Asian Centre for Human Rights Publishes Briefing Papers
The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) is publishing a series of briefing papers, entitled: "NHRIs: Good, Bad and Ugly," which examines the functioning of the National Human Rights Institutions of Thailand, India and Nepal. The first issue, "A Good Case: NHRC of Thailand," argues that Thailand's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) work has been commendable due to its opposition to the emergency decree, and human rights violations, and making appropriate interventions. The second issue, "A Bad Case: NHRC of India Clogged Under Operational Inefficiency," makes the case that India's NHRC is ineffective due to its operational inefficiencies, such as non-registration of complaints, denial of the right to information on the complaints, not providing response of the State in the course of considering complaints, closure of cases on frivolous grounds, exposing the complainants, flawed investigation processes, and lack of follow-up mechanisms for prosecution. The forthcoming issue will address Nepal's NHRC.

Go to: www.achrweb.org/review.htm

Human Rights Report on Post-Tsunami Relief Efforts
The latest issue of Human Rights Features, entitled "From Relief to Recovery: Post-Tsunami Human Rights Implications for India," argues that while several international and domestic organizations and the Government of India have made commendable contributions to the relief effort by providing resources to address the immediate needs of the tsunami victims, much remains to be done in the area of building a sustainable framework within which tsunami victims may be permanently rehabilitated. Numerous reports have surfaced documenting problems arising from the relief operations themselves, the most notable of which are consistent discrimination in the distribution of aid and rehabilitation services, unsustainable solutions to relocation and insufficient means for livelihood. The report points out that prioritizing human rights while rebuilding tsunami-affected communities is important not only to ensure long-term survival, but also to address longstanding human rights issues.

Go to: www.hrdc.net/sahrdc/hrfeatures/HRF123.htm

Ill-treatment at Police Station in Belgrade
The Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) has asked the Inspector General of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) to order a prompt and proper investigation into the ill-treatment of two citizens, Aleksandar Petrovi and Ivan Marinkovi, at the Stari Grad police station (OUP) in Belgrade. According to HLC, three uniformed police officers from the Stari Grad police station entered the apartment of Aleksandar Petrovi at 3 Fruskogorska Street in Belgrade without authorization and detained Petrovi? and his friend. After being detained, they were brutally beaten up at the police station. As a result of their treatment at the police station, Petrovi and Marinkovi suffered numerous injuries which doctors later substantiated. The HLC, which has complete medical records about the injuries sustained by the victims as well as their statements, intends to file criminal complaints and sue the police officers for damages on behalf of the victims.

Go to: www.hlc.org.yu

Concern over Expansion of Emergency Food Program in Shan State, Burma
Several Shan State Burmese NGOs (Lahu National Development Organisation, Palaung Youth Network Group, Pa-O Youth Organisation, Shan Democratic Union, Shan Health Committee, Shan Human Rights Foundation, Shan Relief and Development Committee, Shan State Organisation, Shan Women's Action Network) issued a statement of concern about the World Food Program (WFP) doubling the size of its program in Shan State, despite the failure of the government to implement reforms in response to the WFP. The NGOs also question WFP's actions in light of the increasing political repression in Shan State since early 2005, including the arrest of Shan political leaders. Their statement of concern cover such issues as selection of areas of assistance, rice purchasing procedures, Food for Work program, transparency, and accountability.

Go to: www.shanwomen.org

West Papuan Human Rights Leader Wins 2005 John Humphrey Freedom Award
The Montreal-based Rights & Democracy announced that Yan Christian Warinussy of West Papua, Indonesia, is the winner of its 2005 John Humphrey Freedom Award. Mr. Warinussy is Executive Director of the Institute for Research, Analysis and Development of Legal Aid, also known as LP3BH, an organization committed to defending the rights of West Papuans affected by the Indonesian military's efforts to assert control over the region, which occupies the western half of the island shared by Papua New Guinea. Mr. Warinussy has distinguished himself by his frontline role as a defense lawyer to those in West Papua's remote regions who would otherwise have no legal representation. He also has played a leading role in the defense of West Papuan human rights campaigners working to expose human rights violations committed by the Indonesian military and paramilitary groups. Created in 1992, the John Humphrey Freedom Award is given each year by Rights & Democracy. Named in honor of John Peters Humphrey, the Canadian law professor who prepared the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the award includes a $25,000 grant as well as a speaking tour of Canadian cities aimed at raising public awareness of the recipient's work on behalf of human rights.

For more information: www.dd-rd.ca/frame2.iphtml?langue=0&menu=m01&urlpage=/english/commdoc/prelease1/jhfa2005july.html

 
 
International Democracy Assistance & Solidarity
 
Region in Transition" Program Offers Grants to Polish NGOs Working in Former Eastern Block
The Education for Democracy Foundation is accepting applications for the 2005 round of the "Region in Transition" (RITA) Program of the Polish American Freedom Foundation. The goal of the program, administered by the Education for Democracy Foundation, is to facilitate the transfer of Polish NGO experience to the societies of the former Eastern Bloc and to support their democratic and free market transformations. During the past four years, RITA has provided grants for 300 projects of Polish nongovernmental organizations and education institutions working in post-communist countries. Grant making competitions are carried out on two tracks: (1) Co-operation at the Local Level and (2) The Best Polish Experience (a competition aimed at transfer of the most efficient Polish transformation experience). Since it is obligatory for Polish applicants to have partners in the former Eastern Bloc, organizations from the region are encouraged to contact their Polish partners and encourage them to develop joint project proposals. For those who don't have established contacts in Poland, information about potential Polish partners is available at www.ngo.pl or on a CD-rom, "Activity of Polish NGOs Abroad," disseminated by the Education for Democracy Foundation. Deadlines for applications are: September 15, 2005 and March 15, 2006 for the Cooperation at the Local Level track; and November 15, 2005 for the Best Polish Experience track.

Go to: www.edudemo.org.pl/rita/articles.php?lng=pl&pg=123 or Contact: rita@edudemo.org.pl

 
 
Internet, Media, & Freedom of Expression
 
Journalists Training Program in Poland
The Polish - Czech - Slovak Solidarity Foundation accepts applications this year's journalists internship program, "Independent Media 6." Journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine are encouraged to apply. During study visits in Poland, participants will visit the editorial offices of newspapers and magazines, radio and TV stations, Internet portals, and information agencies. They will acquaint themselves with the work and experiences of their Polish colleagues. The study visits will be tailored to the professions and specializations of the guests. Also planned are seminars and lectures on such subjects as the transformation of the Polish media after 1989, laws regulating public and private media, investigative journalism, media ethics, journalists' organizations, advertising and the media, the problem of competition in the media, political lobbying, and independence of the media.

For more information, go to: www.spczs.engo.pl/index_en.php?dzial=news&newsid=98 or contact: fundacja@spczs.engo.pl; spczs@szpitalna.ngo.pl

New Publication: Media and Democracy in Israel
The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), a Jerusalem-based think-tank dedicated to promoting democracy and enriching the public discourse in Israel, announces the recent publication of MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY IN ISRAEL. This book, part of the "Auditing Israeli Democracy" project headed by IDI Senior Fellow Professor Asher Arian, provides statistical information about how different sectors of Israeli society view the Israeli media in comparison to other institutions, as opposed to how the media views itself. For example, over the past three years, the level of trust Israeli citizens have had in the media has remained constant, while the amount of trust they have had in other institutions has decreased. However, Israelis also see the media as a source of stress and conflict surrounding the pending disengagement plan. Other books in this series include an annual ISRAELI DEMOCRACY INDEX, which examines how Israeli citizens assess their own democracy. IDI is a member of the World Movement's Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI).

Go to: www.idi.org.il/english/catalog.asp?pdid=340&did=50

For more IDI publications, go to: www.idi.org.il/english/catalog.asp
For more information on the NDRI, go to: www.wmd.org/ndri/ndri.html

New Web Site Monitors Freedom of Expression in Tunisia
The Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 13 organizations affiliated with the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), recently launched its new Web site. The site details the state of free expression in Tunisia and challenges the government to end Internet blocking in the lead-up to the November 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to be held in Tunisia. The Web site is available in English, French, and Arabic.

Go to: www.campaigns.ifex.org/tmg

 
 
Political & Civic Participation of Youth
 
Traveling Seminar on Participation of Youth in Social Change
The Global Youth Action Network (GYAN) completed its first traveling seminar on youth activism, which took place in Brazil. Participants from Europe, Africa, and Brazil visited headquarters and project sites of many diverse youth organizations in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Curitiba and exchanged their experiences in activism from the local to the global level. The purpose of the seminars was to showcase important youth organizations and their movements, bring attention to marginalized people and their often ignored challenges, facilitate greater understanding among traditionally separated peoples, and celebrate the diversity of the global youth movement. Similar seminars will be organized in the future, and GYAN is looking for organizations interested in taking part in this program. GYAN's Brazil office serves as the secretariat of the World Movement's Youth Movement for Democracy.

To learn more and register for tours, go to: www.youthlink.org/tours
 

 
For more information on the Youth Movement for Democracy, go to: www.wmd.org/youth/youth.html
 
 
Research
 
Fellowship Opportunity for Threatened Scholars
In 2002, Institute of International Education trustees Dr. Henry Jarecki, Thomas Russo and Jeffrey Epstein, together with George Soros, founded the Scholar Rescue Fund. This program provides support to scholars around the world who are threatened as a result of their academic work. The Scholar Rescue Fund has rescued over 80 scholars from 34 countries since 2002, enabling them to continue their teaching and research and, essentially, saving their academic work. Academics, researchers and independent scholars from any country, field or discipline may qualify. Deadline for applications is January 1, 2006. Applications from female scholars and other under-represented groups are strongly encouraged.

Go to: www.iie.org/Template.cfm?Section=Home&Template=/Activity/ActivityDisplay.cfm&activityid=399

Free Access Portal for Social Science Researchers Launched
Global Development Network's (GDN's) Journal Access Portal enables social science researchers based in developing or transitional countries to access a searchable, full-text, online database of more than 120 leading social science journals. In order to provide this service, GDN has teamed up with Project MUSE, one of the academic community's primary electronic journals resources, to give GDN-registered researchers no-cost access. Eligible GDN-registered researchers can download full-text articles at no cost to themselves or their institutions through the GDN Journals Access Portal. Journals in the collection include Demography, World Politics, Journal of Democracy, Anthropological Quarterly, Technology and Culture, and several regional-studies journals.

Go to: www.gdnet.org/knowledge_base/researchers/acceptance_policy/index.html

 
 
Rule of Law
 
Liberian Group Seeks Assistance with Survey on Police and Security
The Center for Criminal Justice Research and Education (CCJRE) of Liberia has asked World Movement participants and other civil society organizations around the world to respond to a global survey on police and security institutions. The purpose of the questionnaire is to gather data on law enforcement agencies and procedures around the world for consideration in developing policies and administrative guidelines on the restructuring and improvement of law enforcement agencies in Liberia. The questionnaire should be completed by a member of the police/security service or a human rights activist with extensive knowledge about law enforcement and security institutions.

Please contact the Center in Liberia at linlealiberia94@yahoo.com to receive questionnaires no later than August 20, 2005.

 
 
Transparency & Corruption
 
Online Program on Countering Corruption
On July 18, 2005, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) based in Bulgaria delivered a video conference on "Public-Private Partnerships in Countering Corruption" to participants at the Ukrainian Academy of Public Administration in Kiev and a group of development practitioners at the World Bank Country Office in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The video conference was part of a pilot program on anti-corruption developed by CSD and Coalition 2000, which has been delivered through the Global Development Learning Network. The GDLN is a global partnership of learning centers that use advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) to connect people around the world working in development. The Program on Anti-Corruption is designed to enable the community of anti-corruption practitioners in Europe and Central Asia to learn from global and regional best practices and from each other. The program consists of a series of five videoconference sessions "Public-Private Partnerships in Countering Corruption;" "Corruption Monitoring and Assessment Techniques;" "Civic Initiatives for Judicial Reform and Countering Corruption;""Hidden Economy and Corruption;" and "Organized Crime and Corruption." The remaining sessions will take place in September and October 2005.

Go to: www.csd.bg/artShow.php?id=6221

 
 
Women’s Issues
 
Online Report on Sexual Violence by Burmese Army Troops
"Catwalk to the Barracks," a report authored by the Woman and Child Rights Project (WCRP) of Southern Burma and the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM), documents sexual violence by Burmese troops affiliated with the military regime against 50 women and girls aged 14 to 50. Half of the incidents have taken place since 2002.

Despite the ceasefire between the New Mon State Party and the military regime since 1995, the regime has deployed 20 more battalions in Mon areas, leading to increased incidents of sexual violence. According to the report, during the years 2003-2004, village headmen in southern Ye township were ordered by the Burmese army to provide young women to serve as "comfort women" or sex slaves at the local barracks. Schoolgirls were also forced to parade on a catwalk for the entertainment of military officers. The authors of the report urge the international community, especially ASEAN members, to pressure the Burmese regime to end state-sponsored sexual violence and to begin a process of meaningful political reform.

For more information go to: www.rehmonnya.org/catwalk-to-the-barracks.php

World Movement Participants Mentioned in This Issue