- News and Notes
5th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy
On April 6–9, the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) held its Fifth Assembly in Kyiv, Ukraine. The Assembly, whose theme was “Making Democracy Work: From Principles to Performance,” brought together more than 450 participants from over 100 countries in all global regions.
In 30 topical workshops, participants addressed such issues as fighting corruption, developing effective political parties, reducing poverty and inequality, creating strategies for free and fair elections, and freeing prisoners of conscience. In addition, regional workshops and meetings of WMD networks focused on democracy research, women’s political participation, youth engagement, and local governance. Participants also discussed cooperation on democracy assistance as well as other initiatives, such as the Global Forum for Media Development and the Nongovernmental Process of the Community of Democracies.
The Assembly opened with remarks by Kateryna Yushchenko, the First Lady of Ukraine (see pp. 158– 161 above). Other keynote speakers included former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo; Maina Kiai, chairman of the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission; and Myroslava Gongadze, founder of the Gongadze Foundation, named for her husband Georgiy Gongadze, an independent journalist who was murdered in Ukraine during the previous regime. On the following morning, President Viktor Yushchenko presented his views on democratization in Ukraine—both the successes achieved and the remaining hurdles.
In addition to discussing the practical work of building democracy, the Assembly also featured the presentation and discussion of the WMD’s recent report, “Defending Civil Society,” which addresses the attempt by various governments around the world to close the space for civil society work—especially efforts relating to democracy and human rights. The report shows that historically accepted [End Page 187] principles such as the rights to association and advocacy, which serve to protect civil society, are increasingly being violated.
The Assembly concluded with the John B. Hurford Memorial Dinner and the presentation of the World Movement’s Democracy Courage Tributes to the lawyers of Pakistan, the journalists of Somalia, and the monks of Burma. The dinner was sponsored by the Hurford Foundation, founded by the late John Hurford, a former NED board member and an early supporter of the World Movement for Democracy.
Transcripts and other information about the Assembly as well as the “Defending Civil Society” report (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) are available on the WMD’s website ( www.wmd.org ). A final report on the Assembly will be published later this year.
Joint Workshop of Pakistani and Afghan Legislators
On April 22–23 in Islamabad, the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), with the support of the British High Commission in Islamabad, convened the First Joint Workshop of Pakistani and Afghan Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Staff. The goal was to “enhance mutual understanding on parliamentary oversight prevailing in the two neighboring countries,” as well as to share lessons and learn from one another’s experiences. More than 40 members of Pakistan’s National Assembly, along with senior members of the Parliamentary Secretariats of Pakistan, and a delegation of 13 MPs and one parliamentary staffer from Afghanistan participated in the workshop. The participants jointly put forward 26 recommendations for improving parliamentary oversight in the two countries. For more information, see http://pildat.org/eventsdel.asp?detid=248 .
European Democracy Foundation Launched
Fifteen European civil society organizations have founded the European Foundation for Democracy through Partnership (EFDP). The Brussels-based foundation seeks to serve as the European hub for democracy building and knowledge sharing and to raise democracy assistance on the EU’s foreign policy agenda. It also plans to give financial support to prodemocracy organizations that have been denied funding by other EU programs. The EFDP opened its offices on March 1, and held a formal launch in Brussels on April 15.
Speakers at the event were European Commission president José Manuel Barroso (for excerpts from his speech, see pp. 182–83 above); former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano; former Czech president Václav Havel; Edward Mc-Millan-Scott, vice-president of the European Parliament and Chairman of the European Parliament Democracy Caucus; and Roel von Meijenfeldt, director of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and member of the Board of Directors...