- News and Notes
President Bush speaks at 20th Anniversary of the NED
On November 6, the National Endowment for Democracy celebrated its 20th anniversary at a Washington event keynoted by U.S. president George W. Bush. In his widely discussed speech, President Bush hailed recent decades that have seen "the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500-year story of democracy," and observed that "it is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy."
Criticizing "60 years of Western nations excusing and accom-modating the lack of freedom in the Middle East," Bush placed the reconstruction of Iraq in the tradition of U.S. "military and moral" commitments to safeguarding democracy in postwar Europe and resisting communist tyranny there and elsewhere through the long decades of the Cold War. The time has come, he said, to put U.S. power "at the service of principle" and adopt "a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East."
The event also featured addresses by leading legislators—Senators Evan Bayh (D.-Ind.) and Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.), as well as Representatives Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.) and Chris Cox (R.-Calif.). NED chairman Vin Weber offered opening remarks, while closing thoughts came from NED president Carl Gershman. The speakers recounted the reasons for NED's creation, its pursuit of its mission over the past two decades, and its presence as a supporting player in nearly every major democratic transition during that time.
Gershman hailed "people with the courage to fight for democracy. . . . [who] exist all over the world. . . . in the most unlikely places, within cultures far removed from what we call the West." These committed democrats, he continued, "know there are no shortcuts to democracy or any easy answers. But they persist in their struggle, and they deserve our help." [End Page 187]
The Quality of Democracy
Leading democracy scholars from all over the world convened at Stanford University on October 10-11 for a workshop entitled "The Quality of Democracy: Improvement or Subversion?" organized by the university's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). The conference considered five dimensions of the quality of democracy: rule of law, accountability, responsiveness, freedom, and equality. These themes were then applied in six comparative case-study papers, covering Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, and Africa.
Lead organizers of the workshop were Larry Diamond, coordinator of CDDRL's program on democracy, and Leonardo Morlino of the University of Florence, Italy. Participants included Guillermo O'Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, G. Bingham Powell, David Beetham, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Rafael López-Pintor, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Frances Hagopian, Yun-han Chu, Doh Chull Shin, Sumit Ganguly, Robert Mattes, and E. Gyimah-Boadi.
Democracy in Latin America
On November 18, the Inter-American Dialogue, a center for policy analysis on Western Hemisphere affairs, convened a confer-ence in Washington, D.C., on "Democracy and Leadership in Latin America." The first panel addressed the questions, "What is stifling democratic politics? What challenges do elected leaders face?" Chaired by Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, it featured Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; Jorge Quiroga, former president of Bolivia; Denise Dresser, professor at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México; and Moises Naím, editor of Foreign Policy. The second panel, chaired by Michael Shifter, took the form of an interview with Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa by Jessica Tuchman Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment. For further information see www.iadialogue.org.
Afghan Women's Bill of Rights
At the third annual conference of Women for Afghan Women (WAW), entitled "Women and the Constitution," 45 women leaders from all over Afghanistan drafted and signed the Afghan Women's Bill of Rights. The conference, held in Kandahar on September 2-5, was organized in partnership with the Afghan Women's Network and Afghans for Civil Society. The Bill of Rights was created entirely by the participants, with each right debated and its wording unanimously agreed upon before inclusion in the document. It was then presented to President Hamid Karzai, Minister of Women's Affairs...