- News and Notes
NED Democracy Awards
On June 17, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to human rights activists from China engaged in four principal areas of work: human rights and the rule of law, religious freedom, freedom of expression, and workers' rights. Lawyers Li Baiguang and Li Heping attended the Capitol Hill ceremony to receive their awards.
Four other awardees are currently serving prison sentences and were honored in absentia: Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer arrested in 2005; Zhang Jianhong, a cyberdissident arrested in 2006; Yao Fuxin, a labor organizer arrested in 2002; and Hu Shigen, a labor activist and cofounder of the China Liberal Democratic Party, arrested in 1992. Wang Tiancheng, a Chinese lawyer who spent five years in prison for his activism, accepted the award for Yao Fuzin and Hu Shigen. Dr. Teng Biao, a lawyer and professor who is unable to leave China, was also honored.
The NED also presented its Democracy Service Medal posthumously to U.S. congressman Tom Lantos for his lifelong contribution to human rights. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Frank Wolf (R-VA), as well as the vice-chairman of NED's Board of Directors Richard Gephardt, presented the awards. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) presented remarks.
The presentations were preceded by a roundtable discussion on "Law, Rights, and Democracy in China: Perspectives of Leading Advocates." Other activists joined the awardees for the roundtable, including Han Dongfang, executive director of the China Labour Bulletin; Bob Fu, founder of the China Aid Association and a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement; Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China; Yang Jianli, a Chinese democracy activist recently released from prison who [End Page 184] is now president of Initiatives for China; Wang Tiancheng, a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party of China and the Free Labor Union of China; and Xiao Qiang, founder and publisher of China Digital Times.
Inequality and Democracy
On May 16, the Oxford Centre for the Study of Inequality and Democracy, held its inaugural conference, entitled "Democracy and Inequality: Old Questions, New Agendas." It consisted of three sessions: The first, "How Does Democracy Affect Inequalities?" featured papers by Deborah Yashar (Princeton), David Soskice (Duke and Nuffield College, Oxford), and Mary Gregory (St. Hilda's College, Oxford).
The second session examined India, Ghana, and Brazil, with papers by Atul Kohli (Princeton), Ato Onoma (Yale), and Sônia Rocha (Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade), respectively. The third session, "How Does Inequality Affect Democracy and Democratization?" featured presentations by Laurence Whitehead (Nuffield), Philippe Schmitter (European University Institute), and Guillermo O'Donnell (Notre Dame). The Centre, which is directed by Nancy Bermeo (Nuffield), intends to "foster problem-driven research that engages theorists, area specialists, historians and other social scientists in the United Kingdom and abroad."
Human Rights Conference in Portugal
The annual meeting of the Institute of Political Studies of the Catholic University of Portugal, held in Estoril on June 26–28, focused on "Human Rights Today: the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." A series of panels and roundtables were devoted to discussions of human rights in relation to economics, democracy, religious freedom, and terrorism.
The panel on "Democracy and Human Rights" featured presentations by Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy, Alvaro Pinto Scholtbach of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, Wen-chang Lin of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Richard Rowson of the Washington based Council for a Community of Democracies, and Piotr Naimski of the business school at Poland's National-Louis University in Nowy S¹cz.
Other participants included João Carlos Espada, director of the Institute for Political Studies; John O'Sullivan of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty; Eusebio Mujal León of Georgetown University; Mab Huang of the Human Rights Program in Taipei; Susan Shell of Boston College; and Ryszard Legutko of Poland's Jagiellonian University. Other panels included topics such as "Religious Freedom in the World," "Human Rights and Terrorism," and "The EU and Human Rights."
Co-organizers of the meeting...