March 2012

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March Newsletter

 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
LAC Network Seeks Signatures to Support Ending Repression in Cuba in Light of Pope’s Visit
EU Condemns Belarus for Execution of Train Station Bombers

World Movement Network Updates
World Youth Movement Launches New Fellowship Program, Second Annual Photo Contest

Announcements & Events
New certificate in Social Accountability Tools at Coady International Institute
2013 CIPE-Atlas Corps Fellowship Opportunity
Civic Education Group Seeks Training Material Resources

Defending Civil Society
Adala Center Documents Freedom of Expression Violations in Saudi Arabia

Economic Reform & the Business Sector
CIPE Report on Importance of Private Sector Reform in International Development
New Publication Highlights Nepalese Youth Entrepreneurship

Elections
New Year, New Publications for IFES

Gender Issues & Sexual Minority Rights
Pakistan Passes Domestic Violence Bill

Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice
People in Need´s Human Rights Award Honors Syrian Doctors

Research
UNICEF Releases “2012 State of the World's Children” Report
FIDH Releases Report on Women’s Rights in Uganda
Burmese Women’s Union Releases Report on the “Forgotten Workforce”

Young People’s Political & Civic Participation
Youngstars Foundation in Nigeria Launches Video on Post-Election Engagement

News and Views from the Steering Committee

 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals

LAC Network Seeks Signatures to Support Ending Repression in Cuba in Light of Pope’s Visit

In light of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy has issued a signature campaign that highlights the denial of freedom, democracy and basic human rights to the island’s people. The statement was drafted as a joint effort initiated by a transatlantic consortium of pro-democracy and civil society groups, including Forum 2000, UN Watch, People in Need, and the World Movement for Democracy. The consortium secured endorsement of the statement by several global leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; former Latin American presidents Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez, Costa Rica (1982 - 1986); Alfredo Cristiani, El Salvador (1989 - 1994); Armando Calderón Sol, El Salvador (1994 -1999); and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, among others.

To read the full statement and add your own signature, go to: www.redlad.org

EU Condemns Belarus for Execution of Train Station Bombers

EU criticism of the execution of Vladislav Kovalyov and Dmitry Konovalov last Saturday, March 17, by the Belarusian government served to underscore mounting tensions between Belarus and the EU. The same day, EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton said that the accused men “were not accorded due process including the right to defend themselves.” The two men were convicted of detonating a bomb in one of Minsk’s metro stations in April 2011, killing 15 people and injuring several hundred. However, according to a BBC article, “rights groups had questioned the validity of the pair's convictions, arguing that no motive had been provided during their trial and that conflicting accounts had cast doubt on their involvement in the attacks.” At this time, Belarus is the only European country to retain the death penalty.

Tensions between Belarus and the EU had begun escalating following the December 2010 elections in Belarus in which Alexander Lukashenko regained the presidency amid accusations of electoral irregularities. In February 2012, the EU added an additional 21 Belarus officials and three companies to a sanction list of over 200 names in response to its alleged crackdown on opposition forces after the election. Belarus responded by requesting that the EU representative and the Polish ambassador leave the country, which led to the withdrawal of all EU ambassadors from Minsk. By March, the Belarus government had blacklisted a number of journalists and civil society activists, banning them from leaving the country. According to Charter 97, a citizens' human rights organization, the head of the Office for Legislative Execution and Legality of Legal Acts in the Prosecutor General's Office, Pavel Radzivonau, stated on March 1 that Belarusian citizens who call for international sanctions against Belarus may be charged with criminal responsibility.

For more information, go to: http://bit.ly/A5Jw30

To read the BBC article, go to: http://bbc.in/FQMEOk

World Movement Network Updates

World Youth Movement Launches New Fellowship Program, Second Annual Photo Contest

The World Youth Movement for Democracy and the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) seek applications for the Hurford Youth Fellows Program in Washington, DC. Youth leaders from around the world will be considered for two positions in the coming year. For a period of three months, each fellow will have the opportunity to build his or her leadership and organizational skills and benefit from and contribute to the development of the World Youth Movement. Central to each fellowship will be an assignment to develop online discussion platforms that would generate active engagement of World Youth Movement members. Youth leaders up to the age of 30 with a demonstrated interest in the advancement of democracy are welcome to apply; those affiliated with democracy/civil society organizations are especially encouraged to apply. A monthly cost-of-living stipend and roundtrip airfare will be provided by the Program. Deadline to apply is April 30, 2012.

For more information and to apply for the periods of September-November 2012 and January-March 2013, go to www.wymdonline.org.

2012 Snapshot of Democracy Photo Contest

The World Youth Movement for Democracy has launched its second Global Photo Contest. Young individuals from all around the world are invited to participate in the contest and send in photographs that reflect any one of the contest’s three themes: Emerging Human Rights Defenders, Democracy in My Life, and Challenges to Democracy. Winners of the photo contest are provided with the opportunity to attend one of the largest global gatherings of democracy activists, scholars, policy makers, and donors. Finalists will receive sponsorship to cover travel and other expenses to participate in the Seventh Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in October 2012. Submission deadline is May 11, 2012.

For more information on the World Youth Movement for Democracy, go to: www.wymdonline.org

To read the contest guidelines, go to: http://bit.ly/yluYz4

To submit your photo, go to: http://bit.ly/GU0j99

Announcements & Events

New certificate in Social Accountability Tools at Coady International Institute

Beginning May 2012, the Coady International Institute based in Canada will offer a one-week program and certificate in Good Governance and Social Accountability Tools. The program will focus on methods and tools that can be used to strengthen citizen involvement and hold governments accountable at the local, regional and national levels. The Coady International Institute urges interested applicants to apply as soon as possible.

More information about this program, go to: www.coady.stfx.ca/education/.

2013 CIPE-Atlas Corps Fellowship Opportunity

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and Atlas Corps are currently accepting applications from qualified candidates for the 2013 CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank Links Fellowship, which will likely take place January – June 2013. Participants in the all-expenses paid 6-month fellowship program will work with leading U.S. think tanks and partake in a management development training program provided by Atlas. Applicants must have a college degree, at least two years of professional experience with a proven record of research-based work, and English proficiency. Preference will be given to young professionals between the ages of 24 and 34.

The Fellowship has not yet been formally launched but expressions of interest from CIPE partners will be used to gauge demand for the program and will be used in priority consideration. For more details about eligibility requirements and the application process, please contact Maiko Nakagaki at mnakagaki@cipe.org.

Civic Education Group Seeks Training Material Resources

Togo Democracy Watch, a pro-democracy and civic education not-for-profit organization in Togo, is developing a Future Democrat Leaders (FDL) program designed to train young students in democratic practices and to prepare them to become responsible citizens who are ready to respond to challenges to good governance. Togo Democracy Watch seeks civic education training materials and other lessons related to democratic governance.

For more information or to provide materials, contact: togodemocracywatch@gmail.com

Website: http://togodemocracywatch.org/

Defending Civil Society

Adala Center Documents Freedom of Expression Violations in Saudi Arabia

A human rights report released in February 2012 by the Adala Center for Human Rights documents an escalation of arrests in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia in response to public protests and an increase in political trials and violations of women rights and the right to freedom of expression. According to the Adala Centre, security authorities carried out a campaign of raids and searched houses without search warrants, and 36 individuals were arrested in the Eastern Province alone during the month of February. Over the last year, the Adala Centre estimates that the Saudi authorities have arrested at least 550 individuals accused of being involved in peaceful protests and gatherings in Riyadh, al-Hasa, al-Dammam and al-Qatif; 170 remain imprisoned, including six adults and four children who were arrested for posting content on Facebook.

Read full press release statement here: http://bit.ly/yZ08zF

Economic Reform & the Business Sector

CIPE Report on Importance of Private Sector Reform in International Development

On February 13, 2012, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Executive Director John Sullivan testified before the Canadian Parliament at the invitation of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the House of Commons. Sullivan’s testimony highlighted CIPE's approach to institutional change, which involves partnering with business community members in developing countries to help them advocate for democratic and market-oriented reform. Following Sullivan’s testimony, CIPE released a special issue of Democracy in Action, reflecting its expertise in the role of the private sector in international development.

For more information, go to: http://bit.ly/GUOig4

New Publication Highlights Nepalese Youth Entrepreneurship

CIPE and Samriddhi, an NGO based in Nepal, launched a new publication, “Building a New Generation of Entrepreneurs in Nepal,” which profiles eight of the graduates of Samriddhi’s “Arthalaya” youth entrepreneurship program who have successfully launched businesses in Nepal. Since the program was started in 2009, over 300 students have completed the Arthalaya workshops, and Samriddhi now runs the program with funding from local private sector donors and nominal student fees.

The publication is on CIPE’s website at: http://bit.ly/GTel5q

Elections

New Year, New Publications for IFES

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) kicked off 2012 with several new publications that followed some of the most closely watched elections worldwide. Sets of frequently asked questions (FAQs) leading up to elections in Russia, Senegal and Yemen shed light on legal frameworks, election administration and incumbent leaders in each nation. Following Yemen’s election, a briefing paper, Next Steps in Yemen's Transition, was released. This paper outlined what comes next for the Middle Eastern nation, examining the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and the implementation mechanism, the early presidential election, and the transitional process that will come to an end in 2014. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, IFES also published a new brochure for 2012, highlighting recent successes in a quarter century of work around the globe.

Go to: www.IFES.org


Gender Issues & Sexual Minority Rights

Pakistan Passes Domestic Violence Bill

On February 20, Pakistan’s Senate unanimously passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill that makes violence against women and children an offense carrying jail terms and fines. The law will come into effect when it is signed into law by President Asif Ali Zardari. According to the Tribune, the bill changes violence inflicted by a man against his wife or children from a domestic affair to one that could lead to an arrest. Furthermore, the law broadens the definition of domestic violence to apply the law to the adopted, employed, and domestic associates in a household.
Go to: http://bit.ly/xbmhHC


Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice

People in Need´s Human Rights Award Honors Syrian Doctors

People in Need, a Czech NGO focused on humanitarian, development and human rights support, presented its annual human rights award, Homo Homini, to the underground network Doctors Coordinate of Damascus. According to the press release, the network of underground Syrian doctors and medical staff received the human rights award “for the outstanding courage and effort they demonstrate when they put their own lives at risk to help civilians who have been injured as a result of brutal repression by the current Syrian regime.” The award was presented at the opening of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival on 6 March 2012, and it honors all the doctors and medics in Syria who risk arrest and their lives. Simon Panek, director of People in Need, stressed that these doctors “provide extremely important aid to those in need and while doing so in hiding, they put their own lives in danger.”

Website: www.peopleinneed.cz

For more information about the award, go to: http://bit.ly/GRpG76

Research

UNICEF Releases “2012 State of the World's Children” Report

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has released its annual report, "The State of the World's Children 2012: Children in an Urban World," which articulates the challenges to the development and rights of children in urban settings and the potential strategies to address these barriers. The report calls for a greater focus on identifying and meeting their needs, particularly in areas of sanitation.
Read the report here: http://www.unicef.org/sowc/index_61804.html

FIDH Releases Report on Women’s Rights in Uganda

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), and the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U) have released a 2012 report based on a December 2011 mission as part of their women’s rights campaign. “Women's Rights in Uganda: Gaps between Policy and Practice” covers the need for effective implementation of laws and the necessity of widespread reform. According to the press release, violence against women in Uganda remains prevalent despite legislation, such as the 2010 Domestic Violence Act and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act. Moreover, some women’s rights protection legislation, such as the Marriage and Divorce Bill, has been pending for years. Sophie Bessis, FIDH Deputy Secretary General, adds that “continuing violations of women's rights in Uganda is also linked to women's lack of economic empowerment. Women hardly own any land and the law prevents them from inheriting property.”

You can read the full report here: http://bit.ly/wqH6Qi

Burmese Women’s Union Releases Report on the “Forgotten Workforce”

On February 23, the Burmese Women’s Union released a report exploring an increasing worker migration from Burma to China. The report highlights the female population of migrants, formerly employed in the jade, transportation, and sex industries, whoare now venturing into a variety of other sectors. The report further details the reasons why many of these women are leaving and what opportunities they see in China.

To read the report, go to: http://bit.ly/GVtFUS

Young People’s Political & Civic Participation

Youngstars Foundation in Nigeria Launches Video on Post-Election Engagement

Youngstars Foundation, based in Nigeria, has announced its “I Voted, Now Wetin” youth film project. According to its website, this short film is “designed to encourage and spark the culture of post-election engagement with elected officials among young people in Nigeria.” The youth organization also released an accompanying handbook intended to help organize post-election engagement actions, which they hope the film and handbook will inspire.

For more information, go to: http://youngstarsfoundation.org/

News and Views from the Steering Committee

Kavi Chongkittavorn (Thailand) has published his assessment of the state of Burma’s political and social reform process. The article, “In Burma, another swing of Asean’s democratic pendulum,” looks at the unprecedented changes in Burma in the past three decades driven by reforms in areas such as human rights and media law. He urges Burma to use the experiences of countries like Indonesia to deal with challenges, such as regional and global integration and a renewed focus on the IT/social media revolution. According to Chongkittavorn, “real reform cannot be achieved in a piecemeal or half-baked fashion. It has to be comprehensive and wholeheartedly carried out in a sustainable manner, so that all stakeholders can take part with a deep sense of ownership.”

Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/xLroGV

Carl Gershman (USA), NED President, was recently honored by the South Korean government with the Order of Diplomatic Service “Heungin” Medal in recognition of his work for North Korean human rights. In a subsequent forum held in South Korea, Gershman presented his remarks on “Advancing Human Rights and the Prospect for Democracy in North Korea.”

For more information, go to: http://bit.ly/GU8Zs8