Freedom House Announces First World Forum on Democracy

New York
The first World Forum on Democracy, sponsored by Freedom House and Poland's Stefan Batory Foundation, will be held June 25-27, 2000 in Warsaw. The World Forum will gather hundreds of democracy leaders and activists, academic experts, representatives of NGOs, leaders of civic and religious organizations, the business community, labor, and the media to discuss democracy and the continued advancement of democratic governance and values throughout the world. The World Forum was inspired by the extraordinary democratic gains of the last twenty-five years and the recognition that achieving and maintaining democratic government is an ongoing responsibility and enterprise.

The World Forum will coincide with a meeting in Warsaw of foreign ministers from democratic countries and countries in transition to democracy, which was announced on November 22 by the Polish government and endorsed by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. The governments of Poland, the U.S., Mali, South Korea, India, Chile, and the Czech Republic are organizing the foreign ministers' meeting.

In announcing the non-governmental World Forum on Democracy, Freedom House Chairman Bette Bao Lord said, "Today a majority of the world's countries - 117 out of 192 - have democratically-elected leaders. Of these, Freedom House has rated 86 as free. This trend toward democracy deserves to be celebrated and reinforced. By convening on the eve of the foreign ministers' meeting, participants in the Forum will engage world leaders in a dialogue and underscore the critical role of the private sector and civil society in advancing democratic institutions and values." Freedom House, a nonprofit U.S. organization, was established in 1941 to advance the cause of freedom and democracy around the world.

Major activities of Freedom House include Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties and programs to strengthen non-governmental organizations and public policy research institutes in societies in transition to democracy. The Stefan Batory Foundation is Poland's largest non-governmental foundation devoted to promoting democracy and the development of civil society.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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