- News and Notes
Global Movement for Democracy Launched
On February 14–17, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Confederation of Indian Industry, and the Centre for Policy Research (India) co-sponsored a conference in New Delhi aimed at “Building a World-wide Movement for Democracy.” Planned as the first in a series of regular assemblies, the conference brought together over 400 democracy supporters from more than 80 nations to discuss how best to defend and promote democracy.
A keynote address on “Democracy as a Universal Value” was delivered by Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics. There followed plenary sessions on “Democracy and Development: The Political Foundations of a Market Economy”; “Democracy and Diversity: Managing Pluralism”; and “Challenges of Democratic Governance: Accountability, Human Rights and the Rule of Law.” Conference delegates also participated in nine workshops on the following topics: “Democracy and NGOs: Advocacy and Coalition Building”; “Political Parties and Democracy: Reform and Renewal”; “Policy Research Institutes and Democracy”; “Trade Unions and Democracy in a Changing Global Economy”; “Civic Education for Democracy”; “New Communications Technologies as Tools for Democracy Building”; “Democracy Assistance Foundations: Expanding the Network”; “Democracy and Market Institutions”; and “Transparency and Accountability: Fighting Corruption.”
Prominent speakers at the conference included Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; several leading Indian political figures, including External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Defense Minister George Fernandes, former prime minister I.K. Gujral, and former finance minister Manmohan Singh; and U.S. [End Page 184] congressmen Gary Ackerman, Lloyd Doggett, James McDermott, and David Price. Indian prime minister A.B. Vajpayee and U.S. president Bill Clinton addressed the conference in videotaped messages.
Other notable speakers included Olisa Agbakoba (Nigeria), Sergio Aguayo (Mexico), Genaro Arriagada (Chile), Czeslaw Bielecki (Poland), Sonja Biserko (Serbia), Richard Celeste (U.S.), Margaret Dongo (Zimbabwe), Peter Eigen (Transparency International), Ernesto Herrera (Philippines), Asma Jehangir (Pakistan), Ivan Krastev (Bulgaria), Emilio Lamo de Espinosa (Spain), Annette Lu (Taiwan), Ashis Nandy (India), Ayo Obe (Nigeria), Zbigniew Romaszewski (Poland), and Frank Wisner (U.S.).
The conference concluded on February 17 with the adoption of a founding document establishing the World Movement for Democracy (see pp. 178–81 above). Further information is available online at www.ned.org.
Canadian Conference Calls for Peace in Congo
A conference on “Durable Peace and Democratic Development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)” was convened in Montreal on January 29–30 by Canada’s International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICHRDD), in collaboration with a number of Congolese organizations based in Canada. Nearly a hundred representatives from Congolese civil society, political parties, churches, and other organizations (both inside and outside the DRC) participated, along with observers from the Canadian government, Canadian and African nongovernmental organizations, and a number of African states. The conference focused upon four main themes: ceasefire and peacekeeping; preliminary conditions for the creation of a democratic space; transitional democratic institutions and the conditions for their establishment; and permanent democratic institutions for the new republic. For additional information, including a statement of principles and plan of action adopted at the conclusion of the conference, see the ICHRDD website at www.ichrdd.ca.
Washington Conferences Consider Corruption
Two major conferences on corruption took place in February in Washington, D.C. On February 22–23, the Development Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in cooperation with the Center for International Private Enterprise and the U.S. Agency for International Development, hosted a conference entitled “Fighting Corruption in Developing Countries and Emerging Economies: The Role of the Private Sector.” Participants explored the private sector’s part in the war on corruption; highlighted success stories [End Page 185] in developing countries and emerging economies; discussed strategies for the future; and generated recommendations for concerted private-sector action.
On February 24–26, the U.S. government hosted a conference on “Fighting Corruption: Safe-guarding Integrity Among Justice and Security Officials” attended by representatives from governments, multinational organizations, and nongovernmental organizations around the world. The conference began with a welcome from U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright and a keynote address by the conference chairman, Vice-President Al Gore. Topics covered included “The Significance of Corruption Among Justice and Security Officials,” “Economic Governance...