June

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June 2007

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
Indian Human Rights Defender Arrested
Former Heads of State Call on Burmese Junta to Release Aung San Suu Kyi
Somali Government Shuts Down Three Independent Radio Stations in Mogadishu

Announcements and Events

Volunteer Editor for Online Democracy Discussion Network Wanted
Arabic Version of World Movement's Istanbul Assembly Report Available Online
Call for Applications: Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowships
Human Rights and Justice Group International Offers Course in Project Development and Management
Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy Organizes Conference on Latin America and the European Union
Institute for Social and European Studies in Hungary Announces Deadlines for Applications
Amnesty International Issues 2007 Report

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice
Course on International Humanitarian Law Announced for Fall 2007

Constitutionalism and Institution Building
Center for Democratic Institutions in Australia Highlights Tonga's Democracy Movement

Decentralization and Local Governance
International Food Policy Research Institute Publishes Article on Decentralization and Poverty

Elections
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Issues Report on Elections in the Philippines
Training Course in Election Monitoring in Jordan Held

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights
UN General Assembly President Issues Call for Women's Rights in Middle East

Good Governance, Transparency and Anti-Corruption
Papers on African Democracy Charter Announced

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project Issues Report
Arab Humanitarian Organizations Hold Workshop on "Peace in Darfur"
Arab Organization for Human Rights Holds Workshop for Human Rights Defenders
Freedom House Issues Report on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Prison Camps
First East Asian Human Rights Defenders Forum Held in South Korea

Political Parties and Political Leadership

International IDEA Publishes Three New Books on Political Parties

Research
International Center for Not-for-profit Law Updates Online Library

Role of International Institutions

NGO Input into Election of New Members of UN Human Rights Council

World Movement Participating Networks, Organizations and Individuals Mentioned in this Issue

 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals

Indian Human Rights Defender Arrested
On May 14, Dr. Binayak Sen, a pediatrician, public health specialist, and national vice president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PULC) in Chhattisgarh state, India, was arrested for his alleged links to India's left-wing extremist movement, commonly known as the Naxals. Dr. Sen is noted for extending health care to the people of Chhattisgarh, regardless of their political affiliation. He had visited members of the Naxals in prison and provided them with health care, and he advocated for the maintenance of their human rights. The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities Act, under which Dr. Sen was arrested, do not provide for bail or appeal. Aidindia, an NGO that supports grassroots organizations in India and initiates efforts in education, natural resources, health, women's empowerment, social justice, etc., has launched a petition demanding his release.

For PULC, go to: www.pucl.org/Topics/Human-rights/2007/sen-pucl.html
To sign the petition, go to: www.petitions.aidindia.org/Binayak

Former Heads of State Call on Burmese Junta to Release Aung San Suu Kyi
On May 15, 59 former heads of state made public a letter that calls on the leader of the Burmese junta to abide by the repeated requests made by various entities to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma. The initiative is supported by the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights (OCPHR) and by former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, founder and President of OCPHR. Ms. Suu Kyi is a democracy and human rights activist who has been under house arrest in Burma for 11 of the past 17 years. In 1998, she founded the National League for Democracy (NLD) political party, which won the Burmese elections in 1990. The Burmese junta never accepted the results of the election, and instead put Ms. Suu Kyi under house arrest. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her peaceful and non-violent struggle under a military dictatorship, and is the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The term of her most recent house arrest, which has been effective since 2003, expired on May 27, and the letter was intended to put pressure on the junta to respect that date. It urged the junta leader to respond to various appeals from the UN and many countries and regional organizations for Ms. Suu Kyi's unconditional and immediate release. Nonetheless, the Burmese junta renewed her house arrest for another year.

Go to: www.oslocenter.no/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=67&Itemid=45

Somali Government Shuts Down Three Independent Radio Stations in Mogadishu
The Somali Government closed down three of Mogadishu's main radio stations on June 6, silencing independent community voices in the country. The stations, HornAfrik radio and television, Shabelle Media Network, and Radio Voice of Holy Koran, were shut down for allegedly supporting anti-government elements, such as terrorism. The letter ordering their closings stated that they are "famous for creating tension, supporting terrorism, violating the freedom of the press, and opposing the government." HornAfrik and Shabelle Media Network are the biggest stations in Mogadishu and have the largest audience. All three stations, and the local office of Al Jazeera TV, were previously shut down in January 2007, when the Somali government accused them of exaggerating the government's military operations in Mogadishu, but were allowed to reopen. Journalists from the stations have repeatedly been arrested for criticizing the government's activities.

Go to: www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=72598

 

Announcements and Events

Volunteer Editor for Online Democracy Discussion Network Wanted
H-Net, an international consortium of scholars and teachers that creates and coordinates more than 180 Internet networks to advance teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, seeks a volunteer, unpaid editor of its online network, H-Democracy. Founded in July 2005, H-Democracy has over 300 subscribers in 39 countries. The volunteer editor will join the corps of editors at H-Net who manage and edit discussion networks. The basic responsibilities of the editor are to manage, edit, and support the network by moderating discussions, listing postings, soliciting and commissioning contributions, and dealing with discussion list logistics. The mission of the network is to spread information concerning conferences, book projects, and calls for papers; to create common conversations uniting disparate research and practitioner communities within the field; and to foster discussion of best practices and lessons learned.

H-Net is committed to pioneering the use of new communication technology to facilitate the free exchange of academic ideas and scholarly resources.

Go to:
http://tinyurl.com/yocnlh

If you are interested, submit your c.v./summary of qualifications to:
Matthew Gilmore
Vice President, Networks-H-Net
Vp-net@mail.h-net.msu.edu
Arabic Version of World Movement's Istanbul Assembly Report Available Online
The World Movement for Democracy Secretariat recently published an Arabic language version of the Final Report on its Assembly, which took place in April 2006. The Final Report is based on the proceedings of the Assembly contains many of the recommendations and proposed initiatives that resulted from plenary sessions, panel discussions, and more than 50 workshops; excerpts from the address delivered by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other opening presentations; a summary of the Democracy Courage Tributes presentations; a list of the nearly 600 participants who attended; and other information. The English version was published late last year and is also available online.

For the English version, go to: www.wmd.org/fourth_assembly/fourthAssemblyReport-Arabic.pdf

If you are interested in receiving hard copies of the Final Report in Arabic or English, please contact WMD Secretariat at world@ned.org.

Call for Applications: Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowships
The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program at the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for Democracy invites applications from candidates throughout the world for fellowships in 2008-2009. Established in 2001, the program enables democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and to 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 2008-2009 is Thursday, November 1, 2007.

Go to: www.ned.org/forum/reagan-fascell.html

Human Rights and Justice Group International Offers Course in Project Development and Management
Human Rights and Justice Group International, a Nigerian human rights NGO, is offering a certificate course entitled "Project Development and Management, including from a Gender Perspective." This course, which will be held from July 9 to August 31, will provide participants with a concrete approach to developing and implementing a successful project from a gender- based perspective, and will cover several issues and problem areas of project management for innovation. Aside from project phasing, the different "tools of project management," such as project quality, planning and scheduling, financial management, project organization, documentation control, and communication, will be discussed in detail. The course will empower participants to assess needs, articulate plans, mobilize resources, render accounts, and effectively evaluate their organization's projects. The deadline for applications is June 29.

Go to: www.justicegroup.org/training/application.htm

Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy Organizes Conference on Latin America and the European Union
On May 15, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), in cooperation with other Dutch organizations, organized a conference in Utrecht, The Netherlands, to reflect on economic and political developments in Latin America and its relationship to the European Union. The conference, "Democracy in Latin America: Social and Political Challenges and International Responses," was attended by over 150 participants from the private sector, NGOs, and various diplomatic corps and governments. The conference was divided into two sessions: the socio-political backgrounds of, and perspectives on, the democratic left in Latin America, and the "Washington Consensus" and its relation to poverty, exclusion, and democracy in Latin America.

Go to: www.nimd.org/default.aspx?menuid=0&type=newsitem&contentid=385&special=

Institute for Social and European Studies in Hungary Announces Deadlines for Applications
The Institute for Social and European Studies (ISES), located in Koszeg, Hungary, has announced the application deadlines for the M.A. Program in International and European Studies and the 12th Savaria International Summer University. In collaboration with Corvinus University in Budapest, the M.A. program explores opportunities and challenges for Europe with an emphasis on globalization, Central and Eastern Europe, civil society, and cross-border cooperation. The program lasts for 3 semesters and begins in the fall. The Summer University, a two-week intensive course entitled "The Metamorphis of Europe - Enlargement and Beyond," will take place from June 25-July 6. Scholarships for both courses are available for outstanding candidates with limited means. The deadline for the Summer University is June 4 for applicants who need a Hungarian visa, and June 18 for those who do not. The deadline for the M.A. program is August 15.

Go to: www.european-studies.hu

Amnesty International Issues 2007 Report
On May 23, Amnesty International (AI) issued its 2007 Report. The report is part of an annual series published by AI that reflects on the state of the world's human rights, and the 2007 report analyses the state of human rights in the world. In a press release on the publication of the report, AI warned that during 2006 a trend existed in which governments undermined the rule of law and human rights in their countries through short-sighted, fear-mongering, and divisive policies, feeding racism and xenophobia, dividing communities, intensifying inequalities, and thereby building an environment conducive to conflict. The report calls on governments to reject the politics of fear and invest in human rights institutions and the rule of law at the national and international levels.

Go to: www.thereport.amnesty.org/eng/Press%20Area/Secure/Press%20Release

 

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice

Course on International Humanitarian Law Announced for Fall 2007
Human Rights Education Associates, an organization based in the US that supports human rights learning, the training of activists and professionals, development of educational materials and programming, and community-building through on-line technologies, is conducting an e-learning course on international humanitarian law in fall 2007. The course, entitled "Armed Conflict, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Law," will take place from September 17 to December 16 and will critically examine the role of law in armed conflict. It will demonstrate how law often guides the conduct of hostilities, mitigates the consequences of the use of force, and protects civilians during conflict. The course will place international humanitarian law in a political context, trace its recent developments, discuss the convergence between human rights and humanitarian law, gender and law, and the protection of vulnerable groups such as children. Case studies will allow for in-depth discussions, and the course instructor will provide information in the form of on-line reading material, including web-casts and videos, and in weekly "mini-lectures."

Go to: www.hrea.org/courses/15E.html

 

Constitutionalism and Institution Building

Center for Democratic Institutions in Australia Highlights Tonga's Democracy Movement
This year's Center for Democratic Institutions' (CDI) Annual Address was presented by the Hon. 'Akilisi Pohiva, a leader of Tonga's pro-democracy movement and founder of the Human Rights and Pro-Democracy Movement, an initiative that campaigns for democratic governance in Tonga. CDI's choice of Mr. Pohiva as presenter of the Annual Address emphasizes the increasing national and international demands for political change in Tonga. Tonga is the only independent state in the Pacific Islands region that is not a constitutional democracy. Political reform in the kingdom has been slow, but a growing pro-democracy movement is articulating a rising demand for more rights for the common people, curbs on the influence of the nobility, better representation in the Parliament for the majority commoners, and increased government accountability. Tonga's first official political party, the People's Democratic Party, was formed in April 2005.

Go to: www.cdi.anu.edu.au/Events/2007_04_AP_E_Annual_Address_Pohiva.htm
For the Human Rights and Democracy Movement in Tonga, go to: www.planet-tonga.com/HRDMT/About/History.shtml

 

Decentralization and Local Governance

International Food Policy Research Institute Publishes Article on Decentralization and Poverty
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), an international agricultural research center, recently published an article entitled "Can Local Government Work for the Poor?" The article examines the potential benefits and opportunities offered to the poor by political, administrative, and fiscal decentralization, as well as their potential drawbacks. The article looks at a variety of nations and their experiences with decentralization, including Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, and India. The emphasis on democracy and good governance in the development community since the early 1990s has made decentralization a popular goal, and, according to one review, 80% of developing countries have attempted decentralization. The article points out that while decentralization can have a positive effect on poverty reduction in cases where community participation in making decisions and managing development is widespread, weak institutions and conflict mitigate that effect.

Go to: www.ifpri.org/pubs/newsletters/ifpriforum/if200703.asp

 

Elections

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Issues Report on Elections in the Philippines
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has issued a report on the May 14 elections for the bicameral legislature and local government officials in the Philippines. CMFR states that despite the fact that the elections were under the watch of the mass media, Philippine civil society groups, and foreign monitoring teams, the elections seem to have been tainted by allegations of disenfranchisement, ballot-box snatching, fraud, and violence. The report examines the orders given by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), failings in the election system, and citizens' opinions of the election process.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/June07DemNews13.pdf

Training Course in Election Monitoring in Jordan Held
The Arab Organization for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Jordanian Coalition for Civil Society Organizations and the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS), concluded a training course in elections monitoring. Fifteen participants from different associations that are members of the Jordanian Coalition attended the course. The course, which was conducted on 18-20 May, included training sessions on the purpose of election monitoring, the rules that local monitors should follow, ways to monitor electoral promotions, and the process and procedures of election monitoring.

Go to: www.euromedrights.net/pages/357/news/focus/29674

 

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights

UN General Assembly President Issues Call for Women's Rights in Middle East
On May 16, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, the UN General Assembly President, issued a call for women's rights in the Middle East in her address to a panel discussion on Women and Human Rights in the Middle East, held at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA. In her address, Ms. Al Khalifa, a lawyer and human rights advocate from Bahrain, focused on social, educational, and other constraints impeding the equality of women in the Middle East. She asserted that women living in that region face multi-layered and multi-dimensional discrimination embedded in its culture, politics, educational system, and legal framework. Ms. Al Khalifa also noted that despite these circumstances, women have become more active in influencing policy making and public opinion through the media, petitions to Members of Parliament and government officials, and through their memberships in unions, political parties and NGOs.

Go to: www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22587&Cr=middle&Cr1=east&Kw1=women&Kw2=rights&Kw3=

 

Good Governance, Transparency and Anti-Corruption

Papers on African Democracy Charter Announced
The Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (Afrimap), an intitiave of the Soros Foundation Network that works with national civil society organizations to conduct systematic audits of governmental performance, has announced the winners of its call for papers on the Charter for Democracy, Elections, and Governance in Africa. The Charter was adopted by heads of state at the African Union (AU) summit in January 2007, and serves to reinforce the AU's stated emphasis on democracy promotion and good governance in African countries. The papers, three of which are in English and one in French, include comparisons with other international charters and protocols on democracy and good governance, as well as critical analysis of the Charter's content and its enforcement measures. Translations of the winning papers will be available soon.

Go to: http://www.afrimap.org/papers/

 

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project Issues Report
The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) has prepared a report for the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), highlighting the situation of human rights defenders in the sub-region during the first half of 2007. The report was issued to mark the occasion of the 41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the 15th African Human Rights Book Fair, held on May 12-14. The report covers human rights violations in the various countries throughout Eastern Africa, actions taken by EHAHRDP, and recommendations for the Commission.

Go to: www.protectionline.org/IMG/doc/REPORT_TO_AFRICAN_COMMISSION.doc

Arab Humanitarian Organizations Hold Workshop on "Peace in Darfur"
In May, the Arab Organization for Human Rights, the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists, and the Save Darfur Consortium organized a workshop on "Peace in Darfur" to guarantee the protection of civilians and to help refugees and displaced persons return to their homes. The workshop also aimed to guarantee respect for human rights in the entire Darfur province. For two days the participants discussed the course taken by the Darfur crisis and the humanitarian disaster in the province. At the end of the two days, the participants held a roundtable discussion that resulted in a proposed joint working plan among Arab and African organizations, with the cooperation of international organizations, to push the political process forward, to guarantee the participation of all parties, and to eliminate the effects of war. The working plan is available in Arabic and English.

Go to: www.darfurconsortium.org/APHRA-05-18-07.html

Arab Organization for Human Rights Holds Workshop for Human Rights Defenders
The Arab Organization for Human Rights, in conjunction with the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA), organized a workshop, entitled "Towards Practical Mechanisms for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders," in Cairo on May 10. The conference was attended by the representatives of 27 Arab organizations working in the field of human rights, women's rights, and education, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and a number of experts, researchers, and media. Topics discussed included the challenges, dangers, and obstacles facing human rights defenders within the contexts of specific countries and regions, conflict, and the war on terror.

Go to: www.aphra.org/Html/Workshop.htm

Freedom House Issues Report on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Prison Camps
Freedom House has issued a new report that details crimes against humanity committed in North Korean political prison camps. The report, entitled "Concentrations of Inhumanity," distinguishes between the more common human rights violations, such as miscarriages of justice, on the one hand, and crimes against humanity, which are human rights violations so egregious that they rise to the level of genocide, on the other. The report asserts that thousands of political prisoners in North Korea are subject to many crimes against humanity, such as enforced disappearances, deportation, and enslavement. Family members of inmates are also often imprisoned and subjected to these conditions under the government's system of guilt-by-association. The report concludes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will inevitably have to act on the evidence that crimes against humanity are being committed in the prison camps, and advises that North Korea dismantle the camps before the ICC acts.

Go to: www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=506

First East Asian Human Rights Defenders Forum Held in South Korea
The first East Asian Human Rights Defenders Forum (EAHRDF)/ Gwangju International Peace Forum (GIPF) was held in Gwangju, South Korea May 15-18 to strengthen the democracy and peace movement in the region. It brought together almost 150 social activists and human rights defenders from all over Asia. The program was jointly organized by FORUM-ASIA and the May 18 Memorial Foundation, a Korea-based organization working to keep the democratic uprising of Gwangju in May 1980 in the public consciousness. Apart from the thematic discussions on peace and human rights, the forum also served as a venue for FORUM-ASIA members from Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia to discuss the issues and challenges facing them. More than 30 delegates representing 16 of FORUM-ASIA's member organizations were present at the forum.

Go to: www.forum-asia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=308&Itemid=33

 

Political Parties and Political Leadership

International IDEA Publishes Three New Books on Political Parties
In May, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) published three new books on political parties in Africa, South Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe. "Political Parties in Africa: Challenges for Sustained Multiparty Democracy" provides a comparative analysis of 27 African countries and 75 political parties, with the purpose of stimulating debate on the challenges faced by political parties in Africa. "Political Parties in South Asia: The Challenge of Change" provides a comparative view of the conditions, roles, and functioning of political parties in five countries of the South Asian region - Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It builds on empirical information collected from 49 parties and addresses the challenges of politics as experienced by the political parties. "Political Parties in Central and Eastern Europe: In Search of Consolidation" analyzes the party systems of 18 different countries in Central and Eastern Europe. It focuses on external regulation, internal functioning, women's participation, and the impact of different electoral systems on the development of the party system.

For Africa, go to: www.idea.int/publications/pp_africa/
For South Asia, go to: www.idea.int/publications/pp_south_asia/
For Central and Eastern Europe, go to: www.idea.int/publications/pp_c_and_e_europe/

 

Research

International Center for Not-for-profit Law Updates Online Library
The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) has updated its Online Library, a searchable directory of legal documents, court cases, reports, and other civil society resources from countries around the world. The Online Library, whose database currently contains 2,338 resources from 144 countries in 37 languages, is regularly maintained and updated. It is user friendly, featuring dropdown menus that allow the user to browse by country and/or language and a text box simple keyword search. Recently added documents include "Ministry of Government Services: Consultation Paper - Modernization of the Legal Framework Governing Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations" from Canada; "Law Regarding the Establishment of Associations (Decree 1.02.206)," in Arabic and English, from Morocco; and "Law on Charity," in Russian and English, from Uzbekistan.

Go to: www.icnl.org/knowledge/library/index.php

 

Role of International Institutions

NGO Input into Election of New Members of UN Human Rights Council
The Democracy Coalition Project (DCP), an NGO that conducts research and advocacy relating to democracy policies at the national, regional, and global levels, has issued a statement welcoming the defeat of Belarus in the May 17 election of fourteen new UN Human Rights Council members due to its poor human rights record. DCP maintains that the results send a clear message to Belarus that it must substantially improve its human rights record if it is to be considered a worthy candidate for Council membership in the future. The Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), with its partners, also issued a press release concerning the uncontested bids for re-election of Indonesia and the Philippines. A list of concerns regarding their pledges and commitments to human rights in Asia was sent in open letters to the presidents of both countries. They were urged to play a leadership role within the Council to address human rights concerns in the Asian region. Members on the Council serve a three year term, which is mandated to promote and protect the enjoyment and full realization, by all people, of all rights established in the Charter of the United Nations and in international human rights laws and treaties.

Go to: www.un.org/ga/61/elect/hrc/
For FORUM-ASIA, go to: www.forum-asia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=272&Itemid=32
For DCP, go to: www.demcoalition.org/2005_html/undem_appea.html

 

World Movement Participating Networks, Organizations and Individuals Mentioned in this Issue

Please Note: Readers of DemocracyNews will often be referred to Web sites for further information. If you are interested in a particular item, but are unable to access the World Wide Web, please contact the World Movement or fax at +1-202-378-9889, and we will try to provide the information to you by other means.