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Journal of Democracy 14.1 (2003) 187-189

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News And Notes

World Democrats Meet in Seoul

On November 10-12, two major gatherings were held in Seoul. Governmental delegations from 145 countries convened for the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies (CD), entitled "Democracy: Investing for Peace and Prosperity." Initiated in 1999, the CD is a forum for sharing experiences and formulating an agenda for international cooperation. The principal outcome of the meeting was the adoption of the Seoul Plan of Action, which specifies the actions the CD should take to promote and defend democracy. For the full text, visit The conference also adopted a "Statement on Terrorism," which is excerpted above on p. 186.

A parallel nongovernmental forum brought together 300 democracy activists, practitioners, supporters, and experts. Among the many prominent speakers were former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Speaker of the Korean National Assembly Kwan Yong Park, and former foreign minister of Poland Bronis~aw Geremek. For more information, see

In conjunction with the Seoul meetings, the Democracy Coalition Project released the report, "Defending Democracy: A Global Survey of Foreign Policy Trends, 1992-2002."The survey found that, when the defense of democratic norms clashed with economic, military, or other national interests, states tend to diminish their support for democratic forces. For more information, see

Another report put forward at the Seoul meeting was from a task force led by Madeleine Albright and Bronis~aw Geremek, and sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. The report contains a series of recommendations for more effective action to deter or respond to unconstitutional interruptions of democratic processes. For more information, see [End Page 187]

The Retrial of Saad Eddin Ibrahim

In early December, Egypt's highest appeal court ordered a retrial for Egyptian-American sociologist and prodemocracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, overturning his conviction for tarnishing Egypt's image with his writings on democracy and human rights. Ibrahim is the head of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and was first arrested in 2000, ostensibly on charges of treason, forgery, and receiving foreign funding without government approval. He was sentenced to seven years in prison on 21 May 2001, a verdict that was confirmed by Egypt's State Security Court on 29 July 2002. A third and final trial on the same charges was scheduled to begin on January 7. For more information on the case, see his "A Reply to My Accusers" in the Journal's October 2000 issue, and "Documents on Democracy" in the October 2002 issue.

NED Democracy Service Medal

On September 25, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) awarded its Democracy Service Medal to Taiwan's First Lady Chen-Wu Sue-jen for her personal contribution to democracy in Taiwan. Mrs. Chen was paralyzed from the waist down in 1985 as a result of a suspicious road accident during a post-campaign tour with her husband, and subsequently ran for and served in the legislature when her husband was imprisoned for opposing the Nationalist government. In accepting the medal, she pledged that Taiwan would soon establish its own democracy-promotion foundation.

Cuban Awarded Civil Courage Prize

On October 8, the Northcote Parkinson Fund awarded its Civil Courage Prize to Cuban dissident Vladimiro Roca Antunez. Roca was imprisoned for five years following his coauthorship of the opposition document "My Homeland Belongs to All" and was released on 5 May 2002. Roca is the third recipient of the annual Prize, awarded for "steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk."

Tokyo Democracy Symposium

On November 13-14, 140 government officials, parliamentarians, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations met in Tokyo for a symposium entitled "Enlightened Post-Cold War Initiative for Peace-Building and Democracy: Enhancing the Role of the Parliament and NGOs." Participants included House of Representatives speaker Tamisuke Watanuki, House of Councilors President Hiroyuki Kurata, Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama, former prime minister Tsutomu Hata, as well as leading members of six major political parties, and representatives of leading democracy-assistance foundations from Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden...


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