News and Notes
Forum 2000 Foundation Conference
On October 7–9, the 22nd annual Forum 2000 Conference was held in Prague on the topic "Democracy: In Need of a Critical Update?" Speakers included Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House; Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration; Carl Gershman, president of NED; Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza; Alina Mungiu-Pippidi of the Hertie School of Governance; Zhanna Nemtsova, founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom; Jan Zielonka of the University of Oxford; and Xiao Qiang, founder of the China Digital Times. For more information, see www.forum2000.cz/en/projects/democracy-in-need-of-a-critical-update.
The International Coalition for Democratic Renewal also met on October 9 within the framework of the Forum 2000 Conference. The coalition strives to reaffirm fundamental principles of democracy, combat authoritarian opponents of democracy, and demonstrate solidarity with activists fighting for freedom around the world. It was launched during the 2017 Forum 2000 Conference, when it issued the Prague Appeal (www.forum2000.cz/en/coalition-for-democratic-renewal-2017-event-coalition-for-democratic-renewal).
National Democratic Institute 35th Anniversary Gala
On December 6, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) celebrated its 35th anniversary. At the anniversary gala, the Leadership in Democracy Award was presented to chef José Andrés in recognition of his humanitarian work delivering meals to people facing dire circumstances around the world. Three rising democracy advocates were also recognized: Samson Itodo, leader of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement in Nigeria; Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russian democracy advocate and opposition leader; and Masih Alinejad, founder of Iran's [End Page 190] "My Stealthy Freedom" campaign against the compulsory wearing of the hijab.
Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
On December 12, the European Parliament awarded its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Ukrainian filmmaker and writer Oleg Sentsov. Sentsov was arrested in 2014 by the Russian security service for his role in protests against the Russian occupation of Crimea. In May 2018, Sentsov began a 145-day hunger strike, calling for the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners being held in Russia. Sentsov's cousin Natalya Kaplan accepted the award on his behalf at the ceremony in Strasbourg.
Lantos Foundation Human Rights Prize
On December 5, the Lantos Foundation presented the Lantos Human Rights Prize to Hong Kong student leader and democracy advocate Joshua Wong. The Lantos Foundation's human-rights award is given annually to advocates fighting for human rights around the world. Wong, who was arrested in January 2018 for his role in leading the Umbrella Movement student protests in 2014, was denied permission to travel to Washington to receive the award. His fellow student protest leaders Nathan Law and Agnes Chow accepted the award on his behalf. In a written statement, Wong remarked, "Hong Kong is standing on the front line against Chinese imperialism in the 21st century. From undermining liberal institutions such as press freedom to meddling in free elections, there's no doubt that Beijing is actively developing its sharp power. China's goal is to create a new international order governed not by shared values of human rights, but by its force of power."
NED's International Forum
On November 5, the Forum hosted an event entitled "Imitation and Its Discontents: Democratic Malaise in Postcommunist Europe," with Ivan Krastev. Krastev's presentation drew on his July 2018 article in the Journal of Democracy. The event was moderated by Journal coeditor Marc Plattner.
On December 4, the Forum launched its new podcast, "Power 3.0: Authoritarian Resurgence, Democratic Resilience." In tandem with the Power 3.0 Blog, the podcast will examine how modern authoritarian regimes exploit the openness of democratic systems, including through disinformation and transnational kleptocracy.
On December 11, Reagan-Fas-cell Fellow Vera Gogokhia, a Georgian civil society activist, delivered a presentation entitled "Is the Party Over? Youth, Political Parties, and Elections in Georgia." Sally Blair of NED served as moderator and Miriam Lanskoy of NED provided comments. [End Page 191]