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News and Notes
Asian Center for Democratic Governance
On January 7-8 in New Delhi, India, the Asian Center for Democratic Governance held its inaugural conference, entitled "Making Democracy Work: Accountability & Transparency." The conference's four sessions addressed the importance of good governance in democracies and the respective roles of the parliament, the judiciary, and the media in achieving this goal. The conference was attended by more than 90 participants from 14 countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Speakers included India's attorney general, Soli J. Sorabjee; U.S. ambassador to India Richard Celeste; Washington Post South Asia bureau chief Pamela Constable; and James McDermott, member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The conference was cosponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy and the Confederation of Indian Industry, whose partnership in launching the Asian Center for Democratic Governance was announced by U.S. president Bill Clinton during his March 2000 visit to India. A final report on the January meeting will be available at www.ned.org.
Human Rights Conference in Russia
On January 20-21, more than 1,000 activists from throughout the Russian Federation came together for the All-Russian Extraordinary Congress in Defense of Human Rights, the largest gathering of its kind in the history of Russia. The event, responding to concerns that basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Russian constitution are under increasing threat, was organized by representatives of major Russian human rights organizations, including the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, [End Page 188] the Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial, the "Za Prava Cheloveka" Foundation, the Glasnost Public Foundation, and the Glasnost Defense Foundation. Attendees included such prominent figures as Sergei Kovalyov, member of the Duma and former human rights ombudsman; Oleg Mironov, current human rights ombudsman; and Grigory Yavlinsky, member of the Duma and chairman of the Yabloko party. The Congress received extensive coverage in the Russian press. Material on the Congress is available at www.hro.norg/ngo/congress.
Democracy Conference at OAS
On February 20-21, the Convening Group of the Community of Democracies, in conjunction with the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy of the Organization of American States (OAS), hosted a conference in Washington, D.C., on "The Role of Regional and Multilateral Organizations in the Defense and Promotion of Democracy." (The Convening Group, whose members are Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, and the United States, organized the inaugural conference of the Community of Democracies in Warsaw in June 2000.)
More than 120 participants representing governments, civil society, and regional and multilateral organizations took part in the meeting at the OAS, which was presided over by Secretary General César Gaviria and Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi. Among the speakers were former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright (now chair of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs), Peruvian minister of justice Diego García Sayán, Korean deputy foreign minister Young-Jin Choi, Czech deputy foreign minister Martin Palou‰, and Chilean UN ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés.
Participants discussed regional efforts at democracy promotion in three working groups: "Activities to Promote and Strengthen Democratic Values, Institutions, and Practices"; "Political and Juridical Instruments to Defend Democracy"; and "Efforts to Prevent the Interruption of Democracy." The resulting proposals were presented and discussed at a plenary session.
The government of Romania, on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), announced that it would host the next conference of regional and multilateral organizations on democracy in the fall of 2001, in cooperation with the Community of Democracies Convening Group.
International Press Institute Award
The International Press Institute (IPI), in cooperation with the Freedom Forum, presented Malaysiakini with the 2001 Free Media Pioneer Award on January 29 at the IPI World Congress meeting in New Delhi. A Kuala Lumpur-based independent online newspaper written in both English and Malay, [End Page 189] Malaysiakini (Malaysia Now) was founded in 1996 by Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran. With its mix of...