- News and Notes
Dissidents and the Fight for Freedom
On February 20, the Library of Congress, in cooperation with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), hosted a forum entitled "Dissidents and the Fight for Freedom," featuring Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic. President Havel was joined by dissidents and activists from around the world, including Oksana Chelysheva, spokesperson for the Society for Russian-Chechen Friendship; Min Zin, a Burmese student leader; Ramon Humberto Colas, a founder of the Independent Libraries Movement in Cuba; Belarusian student leader and activist Ales Mihalevic; Uyghur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer; Kim Seung Min, a North Korean defector and founder of Free North Korea; and Iranian activists Ali Afshari and Manouchehr Mohammadi. At the event, NED chairman Vin Weber presented President Havel with the NED Democracy Service Medal, and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) president Kenneth Wollack presented President Havel with NDI's W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award. The event can be viewed at www.ned.org.
Reporters Without Borders
On February 1, Reporters Without Borders published its annual press-freedom survey, assessing 98 countries. At least 110 journalists and media workers were killed or imprisoned around the world in 2006—the highest number of journalism-related deaths since 1994. The report lists the worst violations of press freedom in repressive countries—including North Korea, Eritrea, Cuba, and Turkmenistan—but calls for progress to be made in democracies as well.
Reporters Without Borders also named U Win Tin "Journalist of the Year" for his commitment to press freedom in Burma. U Win Tin, a 76-year-old Burmese journalist, was sentenced in 1989 to 20 years in [End Page 182] prison for "subversion" and "antigovernment propaganda," and he remains imprisoned today. He was one of the political mentors of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who also remains deprived of her freedom.
On March 5–6, a conference entitled "Understanding Democratic Transitions and Consolidation from Case Studies: Lessons for Democracy Assistance" was held at Stanford University. The cosponsors were Stanford University's Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), and the National Academies. Welcoming remarks were delivered by Michael McFaul, director of CDDRL, and Jack Goldstone, chair of the National Academy of Science's research committee on evaluations of U.S. democracy assistance.
New Report on North Korea
A new report entitled Failure to Protect: A Call for the U.N. Security Council To Act in North Korea argues that the threat posed by North Korea's newfound nuclear capacity should not distract from the need to address the regime's egregious human rights violations. The authors call for immediate action by the UN Security Council to develop a parallel-track strategy of engagement on human rights issues. The report was commissioned by former dissident and Czech president Václav Havel, former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. The law firm DLA Piper prepared the report in cooperation with the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. It may be viewed at www.hrnk.org.
Mapping the Media
The Canadian Foundation for the Americas, the Carter Center, and the University of Calgary have undertaken the "Mapping the Media in the Americas" project, which uses GIS technology to create interactive Web-based maps for 12 countries in the Western Hemisphere. The maps illustrate the location, coverage, and ownership structure of the media, as well as electoral results and sociodemographic information. Visit www.mediamap.info.
Due to an editorial oversight, Arturo Valenzuela's article "Presidencies Interrupted" (October 2004) incorrectly stated the number of countries included in the sample in David Scott Palmer's study on military coups in Latin America from 1930 to 1980 (p. 5). The correct number is 20.
On pp. 94–95 of Andreas Schedler's "The Mexican Standoff: The Mobilization of Distrust" (January 2007), the phrase reading "he could have fabricated his victory by stealing just a single vote from [End Page 183] López Obrador at fewer than half the 130,231 polling stations" should have read "he could have fabricated his victory by stealing just a single vote...