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  • News and Notes

Tenth Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

On October 20, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) sponsored a panel discussion and award ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the tenth anniversary of commu-nism’s collapse in the former Czechoslovakia. The panel discussion, entitled “The Legacy of the Velvet Revolution: Democracy, Independence and Peace in Central Europe,” was moderated by NED chairman John Brademas. Panelists included Sen. Joseph Biden; Zora Bútorová of Slovakia’s Institute for Public Affairs; Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick of the American Enterprise Institute; Michael Meyer of Newsweek; Karel von Schwarzen-berg, former chancellor of the Czech Republic’s Office of the President; Martin Simecka of the Slovak newspaper SME; and Martin Palou(check), deputy foreign minister of the Czech Republic. Following the discussion, Irena Kirkland (widow of former AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland) presented the NED Democracy Service Medal to Alexandr Vondra, Czech ambassador to the United States, and Wendy Luers (president of the Foundation for a Civil Society) presented the NED medal to Martin Bútora, Slovakia’s ambassador to the United States. Both ambassadors had been active in the dissident movement in communist Czechoslovakia. Also present at the ceremony were senators Richard Lugar, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Kerrey, Paul Sarbanes, Bob Graham, Carl Levin, and Joseph Biden, and Congressman John Mica.

Durban Conference Considers Corruption

The Ninth International Anti-Corruption Conference took place on October 10–15 in Durban, South Africa. Hosted by the South African Minister of Justice and organized by Transparency International (TI), the meeting was entitled “Global [End Page 217] Integrity: 2000 and Beyond—Developing Anti-Corruption Strategies in a Changing World” and brought together more than 1,600 attendees from over 130 countries. Speakers included South African president Thabo Mbeki, Botswanan president Festus Mogae, and World Bank president James Wolfensohn. At the conclusion of the meeting, the delegates approved the “Durban Commitment to Effective Action Against Corruption.”

Also in October, TI released its annual “Corruption Perceptions Index,” ranking all countries in the world based on perceptions of corruption “as seen by business people, risk analysts and the general public.” Both the Index and the Durban Commitment are available online at

Third FDL-AP General Assembly

The Forum for Democratic Leaders in the Asia-Pacific held its third General Assembly October 25–26 in Seoul. The theme of the meeting was “Peace and Democracy for the New Millennium.” The major speakers were President Kim Dae Jung of Korea, East Timor independence leader José Ramos Horta, and Japanese foreign minister Kono Yohei. Topics addressed by scholars in panel discussions included “Democracy and Human Rights: Past, Present, and Future,” “Pathway to Global Peace,” and “Democratic Governance, Social Inequality, and Productive Welfare.” A special panel was devoted to East Timor. The meeting concluded by issuing resolutions on democracy in Burma and East Timor. More information can be found on the FDL-AP website, located at

Federalism and Globalization

On October 5–8, the Forum on Federations, a Canadian organization dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of ideas on federalism, held an “International Conference on Federalism in an Era of Globalization” in Mont-Tremblant, Canada. Approximately 600 elected representatives, civil servants, academics, and private-sector representatives from a large number of federal countries participated. The themes addressed included “Economic and Fiscal Federalism,” “Citizenship and Social Diversity,” “Intergovernmental Relations,” and “Social Policy.” The event also included a special program for 100 young participants from around the world.

RFK Human Rights Award

The 1999 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was presented to Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis of Liberia. The award was given in recognition of Francis’s efforts, both during and after the 1990–96 civil war, to help those involved in the conflict, both victims of the violence and others, such as child soldiers. He founded schools, [End Page 218] churches, and health centers around the country, as well as the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, a human rights organization.

The PRC Turns 50

In the fall of 1999, the People’s Republic of China celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its founding. In connection with this anniversary...

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