November 2005

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November 2005

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
Announcements & Events
 
Civil Society Strengthening
 
Elections
 
Human Rights
 
Internet, Media, & Freedom of Expression
 
Political & Civic Participation of Youth
 
Political Parties & Political Leadership
 
Research
 
Transparency & Anti-Corruption
 
Women’s Issues
 
 

 
Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
Internews Loses Battle to Stay in Uzbekistan
Internews, an international media development organization, lost its bid to continue working in Uzbekistan where it has been operating for ten years supporting independent media. Only ten minutes of deliberation occurred before the Tashkent Court denied Internews Network's appeal of a court ruling to shut down its office in Uzbekistan. In September, Tashkent city court found Internews Network in a number of "gross violations" of Uzbek law and ordered it to shut down. In August, two Internews employees were convicted of conspiring to publish information and produce TV programs without the necessary licenses. The liquidation order was based on these convictions as well as a number of other violations. In the last 18 months, there has been a crackdown in the country on foreign non governmental organizations, especially those supporting the development of democracy.
 
 
Singapore NGO Condemns Death Sentence for Non-Violent Crime
Think Centre, an independent, multi-partisan non governmental organization in Singapore, expresses its strong disappointment with the Singapore government's decision to reject the final pleas of clemency for Australian citizen Nguyen Tuong Van. Nguyen Tuong Van was convicted of smuggling a large quantity of heroin into Singapore in December 2002, and faces imminent execution by hanging following the latest decision by the government. The Think Centre finds the death penalty for Van to be an unfair, cruel, inhuman, degrading and disproportionate punishment that violates the right to life. Think Centre calls on the Singapore government and members of parliament to abandon the use of the death penalty and seek a more humane way to overcome the law enforcement problem. It also calls on all concerned persons to express their support for Nguyen Tuong Van, and all others on death row.
 
 
 
Announcments & Events
 
Penn Kemble, Long Time Democracy Advocate, Passes
Democrats around the world have been greatly saddened to learn of the recent passing of Penn Kemble, long time democracy advocate who most recently was a senior scholar at Freedom House and former deputy director of the US Information Agency under President Clinton. Penn maintained a lifelong commitment to the democratic cause, from his time as a civil rights activist in the U.S. to his role as a leading architect of the Community of Democracies. Most recently, he worked closely with colleagues in the World Movement for Democracy in forming the Transatlantic Democracy Network and as co-editor of its Democracy Digest. He will be sorely missed and we extend our condolences to his family and friends.
 
 
2006 Fellowships for Threatened Scholars Worldwide
The Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit scholars to find temporary refuge at universities and colleges anywhere in the world. When conditions improve, these scholars will return home to help rebuild universities and societies ravaged by fear, conflict, and repression. Academics, researchers and independent scholars from any country, field, or discipline may qualify. Fellowships are awarded to institutions for the support of specific individuals, to be matched, in most cases, by the institution or a third-party. The application deadline is December 1, 2005.
 
 
Conference on "Burma: Looking Forward" Held
In October 26, 2005, in Washington, D.C., the Brookings Institution's-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Church World Service co-sponsored a day-long conference, "Burma: Looking Forward," that discussed the Burma crisis and international policy responses. Participants included activists, government officials, researchers, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations. Sessions focused on "Why Burma Matters," "Responding to Critical Issues Facing Burma and the Region," "Displaced Persons," and "International Policy Responses." "Burma: Looking Forward" was held as part of the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium's (TBBC) annual meeting. The consortium's 10 members take turns hosting the meeting, and Church World Service is a founding member and supporter.
 
 
Publication: September 2005 Issue of the International Journal for Not-for-Profit Law
The International Center for Not for Profit Law (ICNL) published the September 2005 of the International Journal for Not-for-Profit Law. This issue featured articles on several topics, such as "NGO Laws in Selected Arab States," "NGO Regulations in Iran," and "Comparative Analysis of European Policies and Practices of NGO-Government Cooperation." The complete texts of these articles as well as others are available online.
 
 
Africa Network Launches Online Discussion Forum
The African Democracy Forum (ADF) has launched an Online Discussion Forum to continue the dialogue from its annual ADF meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, in July 2005. The discussions seek to develop practical plans of action that would be recommended to the African Union, other regional inter-governmental organizations, and NGOs in Africa. Currently, there are 6 discussion groups: "Preventing Violations of the Constitution"; Ensuring Democratic, Free, and Fair Elections"; "National Human Rights Commissions: Providing a Road Map for the African Human Rights Movement"; "Instilling Justice by Educating Citizens"; "Deepening Linkages between Democracy and Human Rights"; and "Tackling Human Rights Deficits: Strategies for NGO's in Armed Conflict Situations". The discussions will end on November 30, and recommendations from the groups will be published on the ADF Web site and distributed to relevant institutions and groups.
 
 
IFES Launches New Web site
IFES has released an enhanced version of its Web Site. The enhancements include streamlined access to IFES publications and resources, a comprehensive inventory of democratization initiatives worldwide, helpful links, photo galleries and feature stories, and an easy-to-use press site for journalists.
 
 
Publication: October 2005 Issue of the Journal of Democracy
The October 2005 issue of the Journal of Democracy, published by the National Endowment for Democracy's International Forum for Democratic Studies, focuses on "Iran's Peculiar Election." The issue includes several articles assessing the presidential elections and democratization efforts and challenges in Iran. Other articles include: "Preempting Democracy: The Case of Belarus," "Cambodia: Getting Away with Authoritarianism?,""Babel in Democratization Studies," "Nepal: Between Dictatorship and Anarchy,""Ethiopia's Extended Transition," and "The Caribbean: Democracy Adrift?"
 
 
 
Civil Society Strengthening
 
Civil Society to Keep Close Watch on Peer Review Process
Despite some initial difficulties, civil society groups in South Africa are still committed to ensuring that a national self-assessment conducted under the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) will be transparent. Civil society representatives have complained about the tight timetable, perceived government dominance of the process, and a lack of information about how the South African review will be managed.
 
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CatComm in South Africa Upgrades its Web Site
Frustrated with conditions of poverty in her Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, community, Ivanilde Araújo Pinto began educating poverty-stricken children on the streets. While this effort, and many others, found little support financially, it has been successful and has grown. Catalytic Communities (CatComm) publishes the work of these small community efforts to inspire others. CatComm is a totally virtual and volunteer initiative to help low-income community members worldwide solve their local problems and share their practical solutions through an easy-to-use Internet database and other networking services. CatComm is announcing the launch of its upgraded Web site, where visitors can consult, include, or search projects in its Community Solutions Database, which already features over 100 projects.
 
 
 
Elections
 
Voter Education Planning Survey: Afghanistan Election 2004
The Asia Foundation has released the findings of a voter education planning survey from Afghanistan. The survey was undertaken by The Asia Foundation to provide detailed, quantified information on the knowledge and attitudes of Afghan citizens regarding their country's first national elections, which took place in October 2004. The goal was to use the findings to provide the Foundation, and other nongovernmental organizations conducting voter education, with information needed to more accurately plan their work for elections. It builds upon similar surveys conducted by the Foundation in the past few years prior to elections in Indonesia, Cambodia, and East Timor.
 
 
 
Human Rights
 
Calls to End Silencing of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia, Nepal, and Zimbabwe
Civil society activists from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America have issued a resolution at the fifth International Human Rights Colloquium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, urging respect for freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. The Colloquium was held October 8-15, 2005. The statement calls on civil society organizations to pressure the governments of Colombia, Nepal, and Zimbabwe to end the harassment of human rights activists and revise or repeal legislation that curtails fundamental freedoms. They ask for an environment where activists can operate freely and without fear of reprisals, as guaranteed by regional and international human rights instruments signed by the three countries.
 
 
Human Rights Features Article: Manual Scavenging: Time to Clean Up Our Act
The latest Human Rights Features article published by the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC) exposes a degrading inhumane practice of "manual scavenging" used in parts of India today. The practice entails removing of human and animal excreta using brooms, small tin plates, and baskets from dry latrines and carrying it - on the head - to disposal grounds some distance away. Mostly women and young girls, manual scavengers are exposed to inhumane conditions of work that pose serious health hazards and they are employed at highly exploitative wages. Perceived as "polluters" and untouchables, scavengers are kept at the margins of society. They are forced to live in segregated settlements in the outskirts of their villages; denied access to local temples, community events, and public water taps; and are excluded from interpersonal relations. The article examines the reasons for government's failure to abolish this inhumane practice and calls for immediate action toward its elimination.
 
 
Seoul Summit on Promoting Human Rights in North Korea
"The Seoul Summit: Promoting Human Rights in North Korea," organized by the groups for North Korean Human Rights, and Freedom House will take place on December 8-12, 2005, in Seoul, Korea. The summit will consist of a series of events focusing on promoting and improving human rights in North Korea, including a meeting of world political leaders, a Conference on North Korean Human Rights Improvement Strategy, a meeting of South Korean and international human rights and other civic society groups, and a Symposium of International University Students.
 
 
 
Internet, Media, & Freedom of Expression
 
Global Forum for Media Development Draws Overflow Crowd
On October 2, 2005, in Amman, Jordan, experts from 100 countries met and explored the relationships between independent media and economic and political development. The main objective of the Global Forum for Media Development meeting was to demonstrate the linkages between media and development, including media's role in fostering political reform with a focus on countries recently experiencing transitions, such as Georgia, Ecuador, Ukraine, and Lebanon. Eighteen organizations prepared the conference, including Arab Press Freedom Watch, the International Federation of Journalists, and Internews. This was the first global gathering of media assistance practitioners to discuss the issues they face, and potentially to launch a process of collective action to increase the ability of media aid organizations to contribute to political and economic development around the world.
 
 
 
Political & Civic Participation of Youth
 
Youth Movement for Democracy Launches Global Youth Democracy Campaign
October 18th marked the beginning of the Youth Movement for Democracy's (YMD) Global Youth Democracy Campaign. This campaign promotes democracy and inspiring young activists to mobilize and to educate youth and larger communities about the importance of human rights, and raise awareness of the positive contributions young people are making to advancing democracy in the world. As part of the campaign, YMD is hosting an Essay Contest and an international conference. The Essay Contest is open to talented and inspiring youth around the world who would like to share their stories. Contestants must answer the question: "What do you see as the most important challenge to democracy in your world, and what can the youth movement do about it?" The most important criterion for judging the contest is whether or not the readers find contestants work interesting, thought provoking, and inspiring. Deadline for essay submissions is December 1, 2005. The international conference, entitled: Global Youth Conference on Democracy and Political Participation takes place December 13-15, 2005 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The international conference will focus on issues of democracy and political participation. Questions for discussion will include: What does "democracy" mean to young people today?; What will it mean to future generations?; What changes do we want to see in our communities? And in the world?; and What kind of movement do we want to build? The Youth Movement for Democracy is a global community of youth and allies working non-violently for democracy affiliated with the World Movement for Democracy.
 
 
Progress Report of Youth Electoral Study
The Youth Electoral Study's (YES) second progress report reveals that a wide range of political activities experienced in schools or during adolescent years in community organizations can have beneficial effects. These effects include more positive attitudes and intentions to engage in adult political behavior, such as voting. Therefore, the experiences of young adults in secondary schools are crucial determinants to the kind of politically aware and active citizens they become as mature adults. The project, led by Professors Murray Print (University of Sydney) and Larry Saha (Australian National University), investigates why so many young people are disengaging from democracy, particularly as indicated by not voting.
 
 
 
Political Parties & Political Leadership
 
John Smith Fellowship Accepting Applications for 2006
The John Smith Memorial Trust is currently accepting applications from potential candidates for its 2006 Fellowship Program, which takes place in June-July, 2006. The 6-week study program in the United Kingdom aims to strengthen and deepen democratic awareness and good governance, and to demonstrate the workings of democratic organizations and their role within a democratic society. Applicants for the Fellowships are invited from: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and the Ukraine. The Fellowship Program is open to political leaders, national or local government officials, journalists/media experts, lawyers, and influential young leaders from civil society or the NGO sector.
 
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Research
 
Latest Issue of Democracy Research News Available Online
The Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI) released the September/October issue of its e-newsletter, Democracy Research News. The current issue includes information on the recent NDRI Washington Workshop, a new Master's Degree Program on Democracy Studies at Georgetown University, recent publications by NDRI members, and a welcome to two new network members. The NDRI is a functional network of the World Movement for Democracy.
 
 
 
Transparency & Anti-Corruption
 
Comparing Freedom of Information Legislation in India and Pakistan
"Right to Information Legislation: A Comparison of Pakistan's Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 and India's Right to Information Act 2005" is the title of publication from the Center for Peace and Development Pakistan (CPDI). The paper supports relevant civil society efforts and informs policy processes related to access to information Pakistan.
 
 
 
 
Women’s Issues
 
Young Female Activist from Burma Named 2005 Asia Hero
In an article entitled: "Educating Burma," the October 10th issue of Time Asia Magazine, highlighted young Burmese activist Charm Tong's work in the movement to stop human rights violations by Burma's military regime. Tong started her human rights work at the early age of 16, and one year later addressed the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. Now 24, she works with the Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN), an organization that promotes the role of women from Burma in the struggle for democracy and human rights in their country.
 
 
WLP to Host Panel at Johns Hopkins on Women and Legislative Reform in Muslim-Majority Societies
On November 17, 2005, women leaders from Muslim-majority societies will discuss strategies for the creation of egalitarian communities and reform of family law based on women's capacity to choose. The Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), in collaboration with the SAIS Dialogue Project at the Johns Hopkins University, is hosting the event.
 
 
World Movement Participants Mentioned in This Issue