- News and Notes
Forum 2000 Conference
On October 12–15, the eighteenth Forum 2000 conference took place in Prague and other central European cities. Inspired by Václav Havel, this annual conference brings together leading experts and activists from around the world to examine key democracy-related topics. The 2014 event was organized around the theme “Democracy and Its Discontents: A Quarter-Century After the Iron Curtain and Tiananmen.”
The conference featured a keynote address by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former political prisoner in Russia, who spoke on the challenges of achieving democratic reform. Among the numerous panels were two sponsored by NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies: “Is Democracy in Decline? Reflections from the Fall of the Berlin Wall to the Euromaidan,” with panelists Marc F. Plattner, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Tarek Osman, Yoani Sánchez, and Yevhen Hlibovytsky; and “Resurgent Authoritarians: The World Movement Against Democracy,” which included panelists Yang Jianli, Dmitry Muratov, Kenan Aliyev, and Christopher Walker.
Another panel, entitled “The Significance of Václav Havel’s Value-Based Foreign Policy,” featured John Shattuck, Ales Bialiatski, Yoani Sánchez, Andrew Schapiro, Lobsang Sangay, and Carl Gershman. Panel summaries, videos, and transcripts of major speeches are available at www.forum2000.cz.
Does Democracy Matter?
On October 20, the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Project on Democratic Transitions and the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute cosponsored a conference entitled “Does Democracy Matter?” The event featured panels on the effectiveness of democracy promotion and presented ideas for improving efforts to encourage democratic transitions.
Ambassador Adrian Basora, director of the Project on Democratic Transitions, delivered welcoming remarks. The opening session of the [End Page 204] conference featured presentations by Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy; Thomas O. Melia, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Nikolas Gvosdev, Naval War College; and Barak Hoffman, World Bank Group. The second panel—moderated by Christian Caryl of Foreign Policy’s Democracy Lab—included remarks by Sarah Bush, Foreign Policy Research Institute and Temple University; Tsveta Petrova, Harriman Institute, Columbia University; Michal Kořan, Prague Institute of International Relations; and Melinda Haring, Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Azerbaijani Political Prisoners Honored
On September 29, Azerbaijani human-rights defender Anar Mammadli received the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for his dedicated service to civil society and defense of human rights. Mammadli previously led an independent election-monitoring NGO and served as an advisor to the rapporteur of PACE on the issue of political prisoners. In May 2014, as Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, he was arrested and sentenced to more than five years in prison following his critical assessment of Azerbaijan’s October 2013 presidential election.
On October 23, imprisoned human-rights activist Leyla Yunus won Poland’s eleventh Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize. Yunus was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was one of three final-ists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Prior to her imprisonment, Yunus served as director of the Institute of Peace and Democracy, where she worked to help citizens affected by forced evictions in Baku, organizing several protests on their behalf. In July 2014, Yunus and her husband Arif were arrested on politically motivated charges of spying for Armenia and tax evasion.
On November 13, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s 2014 Sakharov Freedom Award—which honors people showing exceptional courage—was presented collectively to political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
Eleventh Annual Lipset Lecture
On October 29, Lilia Shevtsova, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, delivered the eleventh annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Her talk was entitled “Russia’s Political System: The Drama of Decay.” She also delivered the lecture on October 20 at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. An article based on her lecture appears above on pp. 171–82. [End Page 205]
Poland’s Future Challenges
On December 9, NED’s International Forum partnered with the embassy of Poland to host a half-day conference on “Poland’s...