March

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March 2007

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
Iranian Women Activists Arrested
Arrested Human Rights Activists in Bahrain Formally Charged

Announcements and Events
World Youth Movement for Democracy Launches Essay Contest
Dates and Venue of Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies Announced
Centre for Democracy & Development Issues Briefing on Guinea
Center for International Private Enterprise Announces International Essay Contest

Civic Education
New Tactics Project Holds Training Workshop in Liberia

Civil Society Strengthening
Jordanian Alliance for Civil Society Organizations Formed
All Burma Democratic Force Formed in Malaysia
Forum on NGO Participation in the Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice
Darfur Center and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Issue Press Release on Darfur

Decentralization and Local Governance
Global Network on Local Governance Issues Electronic Newsletter

Economic Reform and the Business Sector
Center for International Private Enterprise Publishes "Helping Build Democracies that Deliver"
Development Alternatives, Inc. launches "Democracy Briefs"

Elections
Arab Elections Network Publishes Fifth Issue of "The Election Observer"

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights
Women's Learning Partnership Calls for Support for Iranian Women Campaign
UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Adopts Concluding Comments on Vietnam
The Association for Women's Rights in Development Supports Research Study
Center for Development and Population Activities Announces Workshop

Good Governance, Transparency and Anti-Corruption
Global Integrity Issues Call for Experts for its 2007 Global Integrity Report
Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Issues Corruption Report

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice
Court Bars Tunisian Human Rights League from Holding Congress
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Releases Political Violence Report for 2006
European Union Creates Fundamental Rights Agency

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication Technology
The South East Europe Media Organization Issues Protest in Bulgaria
WITNESS Calls for Applications to Participate in the Video Advocacy Institute
2007 International PEN Asia and Pacific Regional Conference Held in Hong Kong

Political and Civic Participation of Youth
Youth NGO in Azerbaijan Announces Its Registration
Liberian Youth Organization Holds Forum

Political Parties and Political Leadership
Center for Democratic Institutions Highlights its Tenth Anniversary

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

 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals

Iranian Women Activists Arrested
Thirty-four colleagues and partners of the Women's Learning Partnership in the Iranian women's movement were arrested on March 4 outside of Tehran's Revolutionary Court. They were staging a peaceful protest against increasing government pressure on civil society activists and against the trial of 5 women activists charged with "endangering national security, agitating against the government, and taking part in illegal gatherings" because they had organized a peaceful protest for women's rights on June 12, 2006. Four of them who were present at the trial were arrested with the demonstrators as they were leaving the court.

There are varying reports of police violence at the protest. One woman said that the police tried to intimidate the activists by using obscene words and insulting gestures. The 34 women leaders were detained in Eshratabad Prison for 10 hours before being transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison. Eight of the youngest detainees were released without charges on March 6. The detention occurred just ahead of the planned gathering in front of the Parliament on March 8, in honor of International Women's Day.

In August 2006, Iranian women's rights activists launched the "One Million Signatures" campaign to demand an end to discriminatory laws against women. To support the campaign, go to: www.learningpartnership.org/advocacy/alerts/iranmillionsigns0207.

To express solidarity with the activists and to demand the immediate release of the detainees, please write to:

Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street
Qom, Iran
Email: info@leader.ir and istiftaa@wilayah.org
Salutation: Your Excellency

Dr. M. Javad Zarif
Ambassador to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10017
Email: jzarif@un.int
Salutation: Your Excellency
Arrested Human Rights Activists in Bahrain Formally Charged
In our previous issue of DemocracyNews, an alert was issued concerning the February 2 arrests of Mr. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Mr. Hassan Mushaima, the secretary general of the Bahraini HAQ Democracy Movement, and Mr. Shaker Abdul-Hussein, also a human rights activist. All three were released on bail the same day, but they have now been formally charged and may face more than 15 years of imprisonment. The three activists will be brought to court based on four charges: promotion to change the political system of the state; public incitement of hatred against the regime; announcement of false news and captious rumors; and the propagation of excitatory propaganda that could damage the order and incite the public to disobey the law. BCHR issued a statement on February 25 demanding a rigorous investigation of the case, the need to secure freedom of expression in Bahrain, and an end to the harassment and persecution of Bahraini activists.

Go to: www.bahrainrights.org/ref07022501

 

Announcements and Events

World Youth Movement for Democracy Launches Essay Contest
The World Youth Movement for Democracy (WYMD), an international community of young people working non-violently to promote democratic institutions and practices, is holding an essay contest for young individuals to share their perspectives on democracy. Young activists, students, and citizens aged 14 to 30 are invited to write a short essay, under 2,500 words, reflecting on their experiences with the ideals and realities of democracy, and the future of democracy in their communities and countries. All finalists' essays will be included in an international publication, and two finalists will receive a scholarship to travel to Kyiv and participate in the Fifth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in April 2008. This essay contest is part of the WYMD's Global Youth Campaign for Democracy, which encourages young people around the world to be part of political processes in their respective communities and regions. All submissions must be received by April 15, 2007.

Go to: www.wymd.youthlink.org

Dates and Venue of Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies Announced
The Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies (CD), on the theme of "Democracy and Development: Poverty as a Challenge to Democratic Transition," will be held on November 14-17, 2007, at the International Convention Center in Bamako, Mali. Mali's Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Abdoulaye Diop, assumed the chairmanship of the CD Convening Group on behalf of Mali in 2005, and plans to use his term as Chairman to help bridge democracy, poverty eradication, and development. The biennial meeting of Foreign Ministers is the most important conference of the CD, an international coalition of 106 nations whose objective is to promote democratic principles and consolidate democratic institutions around the world.

Go to: www.ccd21.org/news/bamako07_dates.html

Centre for Democracy & Development Issues Briefing on Guinea
The Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD) has issued a briefing on Guinea in its latest issue of WEST AFRICA INSIGHT. The briefing includes basic information and a short history of Guinea, as well as an assessment of its current socio-economic crisis. The briefing concludes with strategy recommendations for the state, political parties, civil society, the private sector, and regional and international institutions. The briefing is available in English and French.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/mar07demnews5.pdf

Center for International Private Enterprise Announces International Essay Contest
The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has announced its 2007 international essay contest, themed "Engaging Youth in Reform." CIPE is inviting students and young professionals aged 18-30 to share their ideas about citizenship, democratic and market oriented reform, youth leadership, and ways that young people can contribute to strengthing democracy and the private sector in their own countries. Three essays will be chosen from each of the three essay categories -Citizenship in a Democratic Society, Educational Reform and Employment Opportunities, and Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Essays will be judged on clarity, originality, and their contribution to the understanding of development issues facing countries. Each winning essay will be published as Economic Feature Reform Service articles, and each winning author will receive a $1,000 honorarium. The deadline for the submission of essays, which must be between 2,000 and 4,000 words in length, is May 31, 2007. Other essays of merit will be considered for publication as well.

Go to: www.cipe.org/programs/women/essay.php

 

Civic Education

New Tactics Project Holds Training Workshop in Liberia
The New Tactics in Human Rights project conducted a six-day training workshop with the Center for Victims of Torture in Liberia (CVT-Liberia) and The Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LINLEA) in Monrovia on February 19-24, 2007. Civil society organizations and human rights activists from around the world participated in the workshop, which focused primarily on connecting and supporting torture treatment facilities in West Africa, and particularly in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The workshop included a one-day public conference that brought over 100 activists and community leaders together to talk about current human rights issues in Liberia. The workshop was an integral part of New Tactics' objective to promote tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the human rights community to help expand the human rights movements' options and possibilities. It was also part of a wider effort to work with torture treatment programs from a number of African countries in order to promote new tactics for rebuilding civil society in post-conflict countries.

Go to: www.newtactics.org/main.php

 

Civil Society Strengthening

Jordanian Alliance for Civil Society Organizations Formed
The Jordanian Alliance for Civil Society Organizations was recently founded in Amman, Jordan, by the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Jordan, the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS), the Jordanian Jurists Association, the Jordanian Association for the Rights of the Child, the Jordanian Society for Human Rights, the Arab Women Association, and the Jordanian Youth Forum. The Alliance seeks to create a democratic society in Jordan that respects human rights, the principle of the separation of powers, and the independence of the judiciary. Additionally, the Jordanian Alliance for Civil Society Organizations, whose membership is open to all Jordanian civil society organizations, serves as a means for consolidating civil society organizations in Jordan, and intends to participate in an effective manner to the strengthening and enabling of international alliances of civil societies.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/mar07demnews8.pdf

All Burma Democratic Force Formed in Malaysia
On February 25, 2007, nine Burmese organizations based in Malaysia formed the All Burma Democratic Force (ABDF). ABDF was formed to better serve the causes of Burmese people in exile and to achieve the goal of democratic transition in Burma. ABDF consists of the National League for Democracy (NLD-LA), the Alliance of Burmese Refugees in Malaysia (ABRM), the Burma Refugee Organization (BRO), the National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) (in exile in Malaysia), the Democratic Federation of Burma (DFB), the Chin National League for Solidarity (CNLS), the Christian Clinic Central Committee (CCCC), the Rohingya Organization, and several individual youth leaders. The ABDF will function as a single platform to bring together different organizations operating outside Burma, and to demonstrate solidarity among the different groups and individuals working towards democracy in Burma.

Go to: www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidDate=2007-03-03&hidType=INT&hidRecord=0000000000000000152637

Forum on NGO Participation in the Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights will be held May 12-14, 2007 in Accra, Ghana. The Forum is one of the main advocacy tools that the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) uses to promote networking among human rights NGOs and African civil society for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. The main objective of the Forum is to foster closer collaboration and cooperation among NGOs and to provide a discussion platform for organizations working on democracy and human rights issues in Africa. The Forum will be conducted in both English and French with simultaneous interpretation. All those wishing to participate in the Forum must complete the application form and return it to the African Centre no later than March 23.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/mar07demnews10.pdf

 

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice

Darfur Center and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Issue Press Release on Darfur
The Darfur Center for the Strengthening of Peace (DCSP) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) have issued a press release on their roundtable discussion with representatives of armed and political groups in Darfur. Representatives of those groups, who rejected the Darfur Peace Agreement (ABUJA) of May 2006, but accepted the invitation to participate in the talks, met on February 3-7. The stated aim of the talks was to study the feasibility of building a common negotiation framework among the armed movements to be used in any future negotiations among them and the Sudanese Government. CIHRS hopes that assisting efforts for effective peace negotiations will aid in the protection of civilians and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Darfur through the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace between the government of Sudan and Darfur opposition movements.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/mar07demnews11.pdf

 

Decentralization and Local Governance

Global Network on Local Governance Issues Electronic Newsletter
The Global Network on Local Governance (GNLG), which seeks to strengthen local democracy by providing an informal forum for discussion at regional and global levels, politically empowering disadvantaged groups, and promoting accountable, participative, transparent, and efficient local governments, has posted volume 2, issue 1 of its electronic newsletter. This issue features the editorial, "Where democracy is no more anathema," "The Big Story" on women leaders, and an article on Farah Deeba of Pakistan. The newsletter also includes a practitioner's page, global news, election news, and information on networking. Individuals can also see previous newsletters and make suggestions online.

Go to: www.gnlg.org/newsdetails.asp

 

Economic Reform and the Business Sector

Center for International Private Enterprise Publishes "Helping Build Democracies that Deliver"
The Center for International Private Enterprises (CIPE's) newest policy paper, "Helping Build Democracies that Deliver," addresses the fundamental questions associated with democratic governance and the relationships between economic and political freedoms. The policy paper outlines the key ingredients of healthy democratic development. It includes chapters on "Improving Governance," "Economic Underpinnings of Democratic Development," "The Role of Business in Democratic Development," and "The CIPE Business Model." The policy paper highlights the private sector's role in building prosperous, free, and democratic societies. It also aims to show how effective, responsive institutions for good policies and good governance, and the grassroots involvement of all types of business people who take ownership of the reform process itself, are vital components of democratic development.

Go to: www.cipe.org/about/DemocracyDelivers07.pdf

Development Alternatives, Inc. launches "Democracy Briefs"
Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), an international consulting firm for businesses, governments, and civil societies in developing and transitioning countries, is launching a new occasional series entitled "DAIdeas Democracy Briefs." The series, initiated under DAI's Democratic Governance and Public Sector Program, will capture and elaborate on effective strategies and lessons learned from democratic institution-building experiences. DAI, which emphasizes cross cutting issues, such as conflict mitigation, civil society, legitimate governance, economic reform, and institution strengthening, as intrinsic to the development process of any country, hopes that by sharing these experiences with the broader community of scholars and practitioners engaged in democracy promotion, good governance, and public sector reform will help bridge the gap between democracy policy and program implementation. The inaugural issue of the series focuses on the experience of fiscal decentralization in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Go to: www.dai.com/pdf/daideas/DG_Brief--Bosnia_and_Herz--Issue_1.pdf

 

Elections

Arab Elections Network Publishes Fifth Issue of "The Election Observer"
The Arab Elections Network in the Arab World published the fifth issue of its monthly bulletin, "The Election Observer," in February 2007. The issue includes a report on the elections of the House of Elders in Mauritania and the atmosphere in the country in the run-up to the presidential elections scheduled for April 27 this year. It also includes a report following up on developments in the elections of the "Second Chamber" of the Moroccan Parliament. This issue also covers the ongoing controversy in Jordan about the date for holding parliamentary elections and the parliamentary election laws in the country. Additionally, the issue contains election news on Sudan, Qatar, Algeria, the Sultanate of Oman, and Syria.

Go to: www.intekhabat.org/look/en-article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=1&NrArticle=540&NrIssue=2&NrSection=3

 

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights

Women's Learning Partnership Calls for Support for Iranian Women Campaign
The Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP) is calling on individuals to support Iranian women through the "One Million Signatures" Campaign. The campaign, which demands an end to discriminatory laws against women, is integral to the Iranian women's rights activists' struggle against gender apartheid in Iran. At present, men have the sole right to divorce, and, except in special cases, the right to the custody of children; a male's worth in the courtroom is twice that of a female; and a daughter receives half the amount of a son's inheritance. The campaign aims to collect one million signatures in support of granting women equal legal status with men, and activists are contacting women across the country to persuade them to sign the petition. All women receive a booklet explaining how the Iranian legal system denies women their full rights, and 30,000 women have already signed the petition. The campaign creatively combines traditional door-to-door petitioning with modern technology; it collects signatures through the face-to-face meetings, but also uses the Internet to expand and expedite the process.

To sign, go to: www.learningpartnership.org/advocacy/alerts/iranmillionsigns0207

UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Adopts Concluding Comments on Vietnam
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) welcome the recent adoption by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) of Concluding Comments on Vietnam. In the concluding comments, UN experts express their discontent with the "persistence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men within the family and society at large" in Vietnam. Although representation of women in Parliament is relatively satisfactory, the CEDAW Committee regrets the under-representation of women in appointed public decision-making bodies. The persistence of trafficking in women and girls and the exploitation of prostitution are issues of concern for the Committee. The UN experts also regret women's limited access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, the "use of abortion as a method of family planning," and the increase in HIV/AIDS infections among women. They are equally concerned about the high proportion of girls' dropping out of school and they call on the government of Vietnam to address effectively the obstacles that prevent girls from continuing their education, such as family responsibilities and the cost of education.

Go to: www.queme.net/eng/doc/CEDAW_Concluding_comments_on_Vietnam_2007.pdf

The Association for Women's Rights in Development Supports Research Study
The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), an international membership organization connecting, informing, and mobilizing people and organizations committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development, and women's human rights, recently announced its Global Strategies for Change Project. The project, a research study that aims to compile a collection of campaign strategies used by women's rights activists around the world in their efforts to achieve legal and social change, is intended as a valuable resource for activists planning and implementing campaigns for women's rights. AWID's support for the project underlines its objective to advance work on gender, development and women's human rights by facilitating ongoing, inclusive debates on fundamental, provocative, emerging, and critical issues. To collect information from existing campaign efforts, the Global Strategies for Change Project is conducting a survey of other organizations' campaign strategies that highlight campaign messages and slogans, ways to share messages, and motivational strategies to mobilize support.

Go to: www.awid.org

Center for Development and Population Activities Announces Workshop
The Center for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), an internationally recognized NGO that works to improve the lives of females in developing countries, is organizing a workshop, entitled WomenLead in Promoting Peace and Stability, for October 22 - November 16, 2007. The workshop, which will be held in Washington, D.C., aims to strengthen the technical expertise, leadership abilities and program management skills of women working to transform post-conflict societies. It will offer up-to-date technical knowledge, successful approaches for community and civil society participation in reconstructing and revitalizing essential institutions and services, promote multi-sector alliances and increased accountability, and strengthen women's participation in political and decision-making processes. It will provide improved competencies in leadership, management, fundraising, communications, and advocacy, and includes site visits to related programs, NGOs, and donors. The application deadline to participate in the workshop is May 30, 2007.

Go to: www.cedpa.org/section/training/womenlead

 

Good Governance, Transparency and Anti-Corruption

Global Integrity Issues Call for Experts for its 2007 Global Integrity Report
Global Integrity, an international non-profit organization dedicated to tracking governance and corruption trends around the world, is seeking interested journalists, researchers, social scientists, and other experts with a background in governance and corruption issues to prepare its 2007 Global Integrity Report. The Global Integrity Report is a compilation of in-depth country assessments prepared by local experts combining qualitative journalistic reporting with quantitative data gathering to produce a powerful "snapshot" of the strengths and weaknesses of national anti-corruption mechanisms across almost 300 indicators. The Report is widely used by development experts and donors, reform-minded governments, private sector investors, and grassroots journalists and advocates as a tool to help prioritize governance challenges and promote anti-corruption reform efforts. Global Integrity invites interested experts from any country with expertise in governance and corruption issues to send a resume/curriculum vitae (including your full contact information and names of three references) to info@globalintegrity.org by April 15, 2007. Global Integrity typically pays its lead reporters approximately US$1,250 for preparing the Reporter's Notebooks, its lead researchers approximately US$2,000 for scoring the Integrity Indicators, and its readers US$250 for each country they read for.

Go to: www.globalintegrity.org/inviteletter.cfm

Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Issues Corruption Report
On February 7, Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) released a list with the names of 135 politicians and public officials purportedly indicted for various offenses relating to corruption. Nigerian elections are scheduled for April 21 this year, and the EFCC has encouraged parties to remove candidates accused of corrupt practices and replace them with worthier contenders. According to the EFCC, the findings are an advisory list to the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria and the Nigerian political parties. Current vice president Atiku Abubakar, who is running for president in April, and various senatorial candidates, are included in the list. The Administrative Panel of Inquiry, set up by the Nigerian government, is investigating the allegations and has already charged several governors and senators with relevant crimes.

Go to: www.efccnigeria.org

 

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice

Court Bars Tunisian Human Rights League from Holding Congress
On February 17, a Tunisian Court barred the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) from holding its Sixth General Assembly Congress. LTDH had originally scheduled the Congress for September 5, 2005, but was forced to postpone it after 22 of its members who belong to Tunisia's ruling party accused the LTDH leadership of excluding them. The new Court ruling will only allow the LTDH to hold its Congress if pro-government members are able to take part. The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) is concerned that the continued barring of the Congress is a ploy by the Tunisian Government to intimidate civil society in Tunisia. APHRA emphasizes that the decree of the Tunisian Court is a serious violation of the right to freedom of association, which is guaranteed by international covenants as well as the Tunisian Constitution.

Go to: www.aphra.org

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Releases Political Violence Report for 2006
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a group of NGOs working in the field of human rights in Zimbabwe who have joined together to assist victims of organized violence, has released its Political Violence Report for December 2006. This end-of-year report offers a comparative analysis of political violence in 2005 and 2006. The year 2006 saw a continued rise in violations of freedoms of association, expression, assembly, and movement, and therefore signified that the human rights situation in Zimbabwe declined in 2006. The report consists of a general overview of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe throughout 2006, and several detailed graphs depicting different human rights abuses during December 2006, and in 2006 as a whole.

Go to: www.hrforumzim.com/frames/inside_frame_monthly.htm

European Union Creates Fundamental Rights Agency
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) was inaugurated in Vienna on March 1. On this date, FRA became the legal successor of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). FRA was established to provide assistance and expertise on fundamental rights matters to the European Union and its Member States when they are implementing Community law. The FRA's aim is to support them to respect fully fundamental rights when they take measures or formulate courses of action. More specifically, the FRA will conduct information and data collection, and research and analysis on issues related to human and fundamental rights. It will dispense advice to European Union institutions and Member States, and cooperate with civil society to raise awareness of human and fundamental rights issues in Europe and across the world.

Go to: www.eumc.europa.eu/eumc/index.php

 

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication Technology

The South East Europe Media Organization Issues Protest in Bulgaria
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed at the pressure applied on the Bulgarian media by the Bulgarian ATAKA party. SEEMO is especially concerned about the intimidation tactics applied to the Bulgarian daily "24 Hours" and weekly "168 Hours." Based on information provided to SEEMO, on February 23, several highly ranked ATAKA officials and a group of some 100 ATAKA supporters went to the editorial offices of the two newspapers and requested documents relating to a story published in the newspapers earlier in the week. During the visits, journalists and editors from both newspapers were threatened, humiliated, and verbally abused. SEEMO asserts that these violent threats represent a serious attempt to pressure the media, and they should be condemned whenever and wherever they occur. As a member of the European Union, the Bulgarian government should join them in condemning these actions.

Go to: www.seemo.org

WITNESS Calls for Applications to Participate in the Video Advocacy Institute
WITNESS, an international human rights organization that provides training and support to local groups who use video in their human rights advocacy campaigns, has announced the launch of a Video Advocacy Institute (VAI), and is calling for applications to participate. VAI is a program that will train human rights defenders to successfully integrate video advocacy into their social change campaigns. The VAI will be held in association with Concordia University's Communication Studies Program and Documentary Center based in Montreal, Canada. The training will provide an immersive introduction to video advocacy, and is specifically aimed at activists who are part of a human rights organization and are interested in developing a project during the course and implementing it afterwards. Individual activists with a record of successful collaboration with human rights organizations are also welcome.

Go to: www.witness.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=92&Itemid=245

2007 International PEN Asia and Pacific Regional Conference Held in Hong Kong
International PEN issued a press release on February 5 commemorating the 2007 International PEN Asia and Pacific Regional Conference, which was hosted by International PEN with the support of Hong Kong Chinese-speaking PEN, Sydney PEN, and Independent Chinese PEN. The Conference, held in Hong Kong on February 2-5 under the theme "Writers in the Chinese World: A Literary Exchange," was attended principally by writers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, but also by writers from Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Nepal, the Philippines, Europe, America, and Australia. Although 120 participants were present at the event, 20 Chinese writers were not able to attend because they were either "warned" not to come or denied exit permits by the Chinese authorities. Improving cooperation and communication among the Asian and Pacific region's PEN centers, developing strategies to counter threats to freedom of expression, debating the role of the writer in society, and supporting and nurturing literary writing in the region and in the Chinese language were among the conference's objectives.

Go to: www.internationalpen.org.uk/images/newsItemDownload/Pressrel.pdf

 

Political and Civic Participation of Youth

Youth NGO in Azerbaijan Announces Its Registration
The Social Union of Legal Education of Sumgait Youth (SULESY) issued a press release on February 5 announcing that it is now officially registered as an NGO in Azerbaijan. The Yasamal District Court adopted a resolution on February 2 that forced the Ministry of Justice to register SULESY as an NGO. Many NGOs in Azerbaijan face difficulties when attempting to register with the Department of Registration of Legal Entities at the Ministry of Justice. SULESY has existed since 2000 and had applied 11 times to the Ministry for official registration, but was continuously turned down based on various pretexts.

Go to: www.sulesy.org

Liberian Youth Organization Holds Forum
In an effort to stabilize the political and economic landscape of Liberia by strengthening civil society and fostering national unity, the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections - Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD) held two Youth Leadership Forums in January. The first Forum, held on January 12, focused on "National Identity and Leadership; Civics and Government," and highlighted the role of young people as responsible and important citizens who must respect the rule of law and know their government structure and functions. The second Forum, held on January 26, was entitled "The Role of Youth in Enhancing Economic Prosperity in the Re-Building Process of Post-War Liberia - Prospects and Challenges." This forum emphasized the relationship between economic prosperity and peace, and called on Liberia's youth, which encompasses a significant portion of Liberia's population, to help keep Liberia peaceful and safe.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/mar07demnews29.pdf

 

Political Parties and Political Leadership

Center for Democratic Institutions Highlights its Tenth Anniversary
The Center for Democratic Institutions (CDI), an Australian-based organization established in 1998 that works towards political party development and parliamentary strengthening in developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, celebrated its tenth anniversary in its latest issue of "CDI.News." The issue highlights a number of special events to be held in the Asia-Pacific region over the course of 2007, and a report on the recent Pacific Parliamentary Dialogue in Samoa, one of the largest meetings of parliamentarians ever held in the Pacific. The issue also includes articles about political engineering in the Asia-Pacific, aiding political parties in new democracies, and features various including to the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, given CDI's work in the field of political party development.

Go to: www.cdi.anu.edu.au/cdinews/cdinews.htm

 

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.