September 2005

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September 2005

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
Announcements & Events
 
Civil Society Strengthening
 
Conflict Resolution
 
Economic Reform & the Business Sector
 
Elections
 
Human Rights
 
Internet, Media, & Freedom of Expression
 
Political & Civic Participation of Youth
 
Political Parties & Political Leadership
 
Rule of Law
 
Women’s Issues
 
 

 
Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
Court Orders Internews Network Out of Uzbekistan
On September 9, 2005, Internews Network was asked to close its offices and leave Uzbekistan. Internews is an agency working to improve access to information around the world and to foster independent media. The Internews Network plans to appeal the ruling.
 
 
ACHR Issues Alert on Crackdown in Maldives
On August 17, 2005, concerned with the crackdown on a number of activists in Maldives, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) issued an appeal to the international community to intervene with the government of Maldives. Since the crackdown on the first anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising in Male (capital of Maldives), hundreds of political activists have been arrested. Over 200 people, including the Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Mohamed Nasheed, remain in custody. There have also been reports of ill-treatment and torture of the detainees. The ACHR calls on the international community to intervene for unconditional and immediate release of all the political detainees, and to facilitate a national reconciliation process for political reforms in Maldives.
 
 
For more information about the crackdown in Maldives, go to: www.amnestyusa.org/countries/maldives/document.do?id=80256DD400782B848025705B005DA345  
 
 
Announcements & Events
 
"Individu Spotlight" Monthly Electronic Newsletter Launched
"Individu Spotlight," a monthly electronic newsletter that monitors political developments in Pakistan and around the world, was recently launched on the Individu-land Web site. The first issue, "Power to Grass Roots or Grass without Roots: Can Elections be Really Non-Party?," focuses on the recent local elections in Pakistan. "Individu-land" is a cyber space where the individual is considered as the most important actor. The principles that connect the various individuals at "Individu-land" include: individual freedom, social responsibility, rule of law, pluralism, equality before the law, independent judiciary, democracy, free market economy, and secularism.
 
 
Two Fellowships from Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute's U.S. Justice Fund is accepting applications for two of its programs: the Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowships and the Soros Justice Media Fellowships. These new programs will fund outstanding lawyers, advocates, grassroots organizers, activist academics, journalists, and filmmakers interested in implementing innovative projects that address one or more of the fund's criminal justice priorities.
 
The Advocacy Fellowships have two distinct tracks. Track I supports new and emerging advocates with two to five years of advocacy experience. Track II supports seasoned leaders with a minimum of ten years experience in their fields and five years of advocacy experience. The Media Fellowships support mid-career and veteran print journalists, filmmakers, and individuals with unique voices proposing written projects. The deadline for applications is October 14, 2005.
 
 
Call for Applications: Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowships
The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program at the Washington, DC-based National Endowment for Democracy welcomes applications from candidates throughout the world for fellowships in 2006-2007. Established in 2001, the program enables democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to promote democratic change. The program is intended primarily to support activists, practitioners, and scholars from new and aspiring democracies; distinguished scholars from the United States and other established democracies are also eligible to apply. Projects may focus on the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural aspects of democratic development and may include a range of methodologies and approaches. A working knowledge of English is an important prerequisite for participation in the program. The application deadline for fellowships in 2006-2007 is Tuesday, November 1, 2005.
 
For more information, including the application, go to: www.ned.org/forum/reagan-fascell.html or email: fellowships@ned.org
 
IFES Civil Society Summit
On October 6-7, 2005, the International Foundation for Election Systems will host a Civil Society Summit focusing on the importance of a strong civil society for developing democracies. The event will cover various topics with a focus on civic awareness and participation, civil society and accountability, and civil society in conflict or transitional environments. For more information on the conference, visit the IFES website.
 
 
Poland Marks 25th Anniversary of Solidarity
Twenty-five years ago, Polish shipyard workers in the city of Gdansk launched a strike, which established Solidarity, an independent union. Solidarity was officially recognized on August 31st, 1980, and is credited for playing a key role in the collapse of communism. Within months of its establishment, Solidarity grew to become a nation-wide movement with 10 million members. Nine years later, Solidarity leaders negotiated the end of communism in Poland, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall soon followed. Twenty-five years after its founding, three days of celebrations were held in Gdansk, attended by world leaders and civil society representatives. The summer edition of the AMERICAN EDUCATOR, a quarterly magazine of the American Federation of Teachers (an affiliated international union of the AFL-CIO) commemorated this anniversary with three articles: "Surviving Underground: How American Unions Helped Solidarity Win," by Arch Puddington; "Solidarity: a Photo Timeline" (a history of Solidarity captured in photographic essay); and "Vote Solidarity: the Election Art of 1989 (posters from the 1989 election campaign).
 
To read the AMERICAN EDUCATOR articles, go to: www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/issues/summer2005/index.htm
 
To read about the activities in Poland, go to: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4199322.stm
 
 
Civil Society Strengthening
 
Evaluation of the Non-Governmental Process for the Community of Democracies
An evaluation will soon be conducted to assess the challenges and accomplishments of the Non-Governmental Process of the Community of Democracies between 2002 and 2005. The evaluation will include a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the Non-governmental Process; an assessment of the level of government awareness, and the resulting usefulness, of the strategy; and a collection of data on the participants' impressions and suggestions for improvement. The Non-Governmental Process for the Community of Democracies is an opportunity for civil society organizations to work together through discussions, shared strategies, and support for advocacy and lobbying for democracy. The report will be available electronically by the end of November.
 
 
 
Conflict Resolution
 
Conference on Bridging Cultures and Identities to be held in Cyprus
United for Intercultural Action, a network promoting the rights of refugees and migrants and an end to discrimination through international cooperation, will organize a conference on November 11-15, 2005, to recognize the new barriers and identity issues being caused by conflicts and the EU enlargement. The conference hopes to open a dialogue to promote communication of ideas and develop intercultural understanding.
 
 
 
Economic Reform & the Business Sector
 
New CIPE Case Study -- Improving Governance in Tanzania
In its new case study, "Improving Governance in Tanzania: The Role of Business Advocacy Coalitions," the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) details its work with local business groups in Tanzania to strengthen the governance process and improve private sector participation in policy making. The case study is available on CIPE's Web site.
 
 
 
Elections
 
International Crisis Group on Liberia's Upcoming Elections
Liberia's upcoming elections in October of 2005 will likely be fair and transparent, according to the International Crisis Group. However, the ICG points out the importance of considering fair elections as just a step in the right direction. According to the ICG, while many international organizations assisting with Liberia's transition to democracy will be seeking exit strategies, it is imperative to consider the implications of leaving too early. Clean elections must be followed by international oversight, assistance on economic governance, and continued security improvements. This will address longer term issues, such as the need for judicial and constitutional reform. Recommendations for the October elections and beyond are available on the International Crisis Group Web site.
 
 
Egyptian Support Network Comments on Recent Election
In Egypt's first competitive election, Hosni Mubarak was re-elected, but this first democratic election lacked credibility due to Mubarak's refusal to allow international observers, according to the Egyptian Democracy Support Network. In a step toward democratic practices, however, opposition parties were allowed to hold public rallies and foreign journalists were not harassed by security forces, and in the end, domestic observers were allowed to observe the elections, if only with proper paperwork. Further details on the Egyptian elections are available from the Egyptian Democracy Support Network. More information about the Egyptian Democracy Support Network will be included in the next issue of DemocracyNews.
 
 
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Monitors Coverage of Presidential Election
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) monitored the coverage of the election campaigns for the September 7 presidential election in Egypt. The monitoring started with the official launch of the electoral campaigns on August 17, 2005, and continued through the election. The monitoring project was restricted to state and independent media, which, unlike the partisan media, are supposedly neutral and objective. CIHRS used both quantitative and qualitative methodologies and relied on the experience of international organizations specializing in monitoring media performance during elections. As a result of its monitoring, CIHRS issued two reports on the elections, which are available on its Web site. There will also be a final report, issued later, that will provide an overall evaluation of media performance and an analysis of the political and legislative environments in which the Egyptian media works.
 
 
 
Human Rights
 
Global Rights Launches Program with Kabul University
In response to the need for law students in Afghanistan to learn about human rights and the practical components of law and legal practices, Global Rights Kabul has entered into an agreement with the Head of the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Kabul University to develop a comprehensive legal practical training program for law students. The program was launched at the Global Rights Kabul office in late August and will run through November 2005. Nearly 100 students are participating in Global Rights' legal internship program. Training sessions are being held three times a week for four hours a day and cover a range of legal issues relevant to the Afghan context within a human rights framework. The training is being led by the Human Rights Lawyers in Practice members, partners of Global Rights who have received extensive training on human rights and law and who are currently designing the coursework with support from Global Rights. The coursework will include lectures, simulations, discussions and site visits to courts, detention centers and to NGOs working on human and legal rights issues. Global Rights is a human rights advocacy group that partners with local activists to challenge injustice and amplify new voices within the global discourse.
 
 
Human Rights Database Launched
The Communication Initiative has introduced its revamped database of global media coverage on human rights issues. This feature is part of the Communication Initiative's Human Rights Window. It allows for a one-stop search related to media coverage for each individual article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles from over 200 developing country newspapers and 10 leading global newspapers are featured in the database.
 
 
To learn about the Communication Initiative, go to: www.comminit.com
 
New Tactics in Human Rights Completes Asia Regional Training
In partnership with FORUM-ASIA, the New Tactics in Human Rights Project's Asia Regional Training Workshop was held on August 5-11, 2005, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The workshop was an initiative to engage innovative human rights practitioners from the Asia region (South, Southeast, and Northeast) in sharing and developing ideas, practices, knowledge and skills to further efforts to advance human rights.
 
 
People's Forum for Human Rights and Development, Bhutan, Appeals to the UN on Refugee Crisis
On September 8, 2005, the People's Forum for Human Rights and Development (PFHRD-Bhutan) issued an appeal on the occasion of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly. The appeal, addressed to Secretary General Kofi Annan, called for immediate attention to the plight of over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living in UNHCR-administered refugee camps in Eastern Nepal. The refugees, victims of human rights violations and political repression by the Royal Government of Bhutan, were forcibly evicted from Bhutan in 1991 and have lived in the camps since then. The subsequent 12 years of bilateral negotiations have failed to repatriate the refugees, the majority of whom are women, children and the elderly. The PFHRD urges the United Nations to initiate urgent actions to resolve the crisis before it gets out of hand. It appeals for an immediate UN intervention to resolve this humanitarian crisis, and to ensure uninterrupted and adequate relief assistance to the Bhutanese refugees until the problem is resolved and they return home with dignity and guarantees of their human rights.
 
For more information, contact: skpfhrd@mos.com.np
 
 
Internet, Media, & Freedom of Expression
 
Desktop Training Program in Central Asia
The Polish Czech-Slovak Solidarity Foundation has announced the next round of its desktop publishing training program for NGOs and independent newspapers in Central Asia designed to foster the development of pluralism and civil society in the region. The two-week program, conducted in Warsaw, will train 20 representatives from independent organizations located in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In addition, eleven of the selected organizations will receive computer equipment.
 
To request further details, contact: fundacja@spczs.engo.pl or spczs@szpitalna.ngo.pl
 
New Publication: "The Media Freedom Internet Cookbook"
This "cookbook," published by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), contains background information and recommendations for preserving freedom of the Internet. The book is compiled on the premise that "media freedom is valuable for the democracies of the OSCE community, and that it should be preserved." It is called a "cookbook" by the authors because they seek to offer "recipes" for preserving Internet freedom. The book results from the 2nd Amsterdam Internet Conference attended by delegates of the OSCE, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, academia, private industry and the nongovernmental sector. It provides both a collection of recommendations and a series of background papers on legislation and jurisdiction; self-regulation; co-regulation; state regulation; hate speech on the Internet; education and developing Internet literacy; access to networks and to information; and future challenges of the information society.
 
 
 
Political & Civic Participation of Youth
 
New Publication: "Youth as a Catalyst for Peace"
The Academy for Educational Development (AED), Center for Civil Society and Governance, recently published "Youth as a Catalyst for Peace: Helping Youth Develop the Vision, Skills, and Behaviors to Promote Peace." The publication provides an overview of a wide variety of projects focusing on youth development and peace building.
 
 
 
Political Parties & Political Leadership
 
Report on Parliamentary Monitoring in Turkey
Tumikom, a Turkish voters movement organization, released its report on parliamentary monitoring in August. The report seeks to establish whether elected leaders are performing their duties and are following the law.
 
Go to: www.tumikom.org (in Turkish only)
 
Report on Political Parties in Central America
"A challenge for democracy - Political Parties in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic" is a new report jointly published by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations Development Programme. This report documents the opinions of citizens and political party leaders about the challenges to democracy. The report will help launch a debate on the prospects for political parties in Central America. The full report is available in Spanish and English on the IDEA Web site.
 
 
 
Rule of Law
 
New Law Threatens Civil Society in Eritrea
The Eritrean Government has imposed a law taxing foreign assistance, restricting the roles of NGOs to relief and rehabilitation work, and limiting direct funding from international organizations. Such laws, which have been proliferating around the world, threaten the ability of civil society to work for democratic change and other goals.
 
 
Pakistan Center for Peace and Development Initiatives Demands Police Reform
On September 2nd, 2005, the Rule of Law Program of the Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in Pakistan issued a statement urging the federal and provincial governments to take immediate steps to cleanse the police department of officers who have known criminal records and have allegedly been involved in serious crimes, such as extra-judicial killings, rape, robberies, and child abuse. The CPDI recommends setting up a commission to examine all the records and to investigate all politicians and senior police officers who have been protecting those officers with criminal records. In addition, the statement emphasizes the importance of changing the culture and organization of the police service, which frequently fails to protect the rights of citizens.
 
To learn more about CPDI efforts, contact: cpdi_pakistan@yahoo.co.uk
 
 
Women’s Issues
 
International Conference on Political and Economic Participation of Women
The Society Voice Foundation (SVF) is holding its first international conference on political and economic participation of women in Gaza City on December 20, 2005. This conference will highlight and make recommendations on the importance of woman's participation for gender equality, economic success, and democracy. The SVF mission is to empower civil society in Palestine to promote human rights, governance and democratic development, and conflict resolution.
 
For more information on the conference, contact societyvoice2000@yahoo.co.uk. Go to: www.svacc.org/En/index.php
 
World Movement Participants Mentioned in This Issue