- News and Notes
Lane Kirkland (1922–99)
On August 14, Lane Kirkland, former president of the AFL-CIO and a founding board member of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), passed away at the age of 77. Under his leadership, the U.S. labor confederation aided free trade unions around the world; in particular, it provided indispensable assistance to Solidarity in Poland from its inception in 1980 through its underground period and its triumph in 1989. Together with Lech Wałęsa, Kirkland was recently honored by NED with its Democracy Service Medal.
Emerging Democracies Forum
On June 27–30 the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the Republic of Yemen cosponsored an “Emerging Democracies Forum” in Sana’a to discuss common problems of democratic development in the world’s smaller emerging democracies. Funders of the conference included the United Nations Development Programme and the National Endowment for Democracy. Over 200 attendees represented governments, parliaments, political parties, independent associations, and academia in 16 countries: Benin, Bolivia, El Salvador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, and Yemen.
Conference participants shared experiences and discussed common challenges in four areas: “Politics of Hard Choices: Political Transition and Economic Restructuring”; “Building Public Trust: Elections and Legislatures”; “Participation: Democratic Decision Making, the Vital Voices of Women, Civil Society and Pluralism”; and “Achieving Good Governance: Controlling Corruption, Improving Administration, [End Page 184] and Strengthening the Rule of Law.”
The conference was hosted by the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Other participants included President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali, Prime Minister Hage Geingob of Namibia, Prime Minister Abdul Karim Al-Eryani of Yemen, and the Majority Leader of Ghana’s Parliament, Kwabena Adjei. Former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada and former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell served as conference co-chairs.
The Emerging Democracies Forum is intended to be an arena for discussion of concrete problems of democratic institution-building and performance. Further information about the Forum, including full texts of speeches and of the conference declaration, may be obtained from the NDI website at www.ndi.org/edf.htm.
Democracy Forum for East Asia
On 13–14 July 1999, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Sejong Institute (Korea) launched the Democracy Forum for East Asia with a major conference in Seoul on “Challenges to Asian Democracy in the Twenty-first Century.”
The Democracy Forum for East Asia, which will be based at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, had its origins in a meeting between President Bill Clinton and President Kim Dae Jung in Seoul in November 1998, at which they agreed that the United States and the Republic of Korea would join together in a nongovernmental collaborative effort to help develop and strengthen democracy in Korea and the East Asian region. NED (through its International Forum for Democratic Studies) and Korea’s Sejong Institute were designated as the non-governmental organizations to carry out the project, which will include in its first year a series of workshops for democratic practitioners in the region. The Asia Foundation, the Korea Council of Citizens’ Movement, and the JoonAng Ilbo newspaper cosponsored the inaugural conference.
The Democracy Forum is premised on the idea that open exchanges of ideas and experiences among practitioners of democracy in East Asia can contribute greatly to the improvement and stabilization of the region’s democracies. The Democracy Forum will seek to advance knowledge of both the general conditions for consolidating democracy and the specific challenges for East Asia in the face of globalization and economic volatility and to enhance the capacities of young and emerging leaders in many sectors who will play influential roles in the development of democracy in their countries.
The inaugural conference included four sessions: “Economic Crisis and the Future of Democracy,” “Role of Elections and Parliaments,” “Civil-Military Relations,” [End Page 185] and “Role of Civic Organizations.” In addition to Korea and the United States, participants came from the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Mongolia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Over 50 participants in all presented their views on the major challenges facing the development and consolidation of democracy in the region and provided recommendations on the ways in which the...