Emory Report

April 17, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 29

Carter Center Update:

'Countries in Crisis' receive attention

Buildings burning in East Timor, a military coup in Ecuador, thousands homeless in Bosnia--the list goes on. The problems facing countries today--and what's being done to resolve them--take center stage at "Conversations at The Carter Center: Countries in Crisis," April 20 from 7-8:30 p.m.

Items on the agenda include representation in democratic elections and participation in civil society, refugee crises and resettlement, and human rights concerns. Representatives from the center, Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) will discuss where things stand today as well as concerns for the future.

"Elections are a critical element of trying to overcome crises by a democratic, peaceful process, but elections alone, or a single big election, do not necessarily solve a crisis," said the evening's moderator, Charles Costello, director of the center's Democracy Program.

"It does not get you to democracy automatically and certainly does not fully resolve underlying crises in most cases."

In fact, as director of the center's Latin American and Caribbean Program Jennifer McCoy said, "Some nations face a crisis of representation; political parties are not adequately representing the people, and the people are choosing different alternatives. Two recent examples, Ecuador and Venezuela, tried to resolve this in different ways. Ecuador had a military coup plus an indigenous uprising in January, while Venezuela experienced an attempted military coup, whose leader later led a new political movement to a landslide victory in national elections in December 1998."

The former director of the Center for Democracy and Governance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and a career USAID officer in Latin America and Africa, Costello recently oversaw Carter Center election observations in Nigeria, Indonesia, East Timor and Mozambique.

McCoy is working to improve the quality of democracy in the Western Hemisphere by helping ensure honest elections, addressing new forms of political participation and collaborating with states and civic groups to overcome corruption and bring about transparency in governments.

"People are the main element that has to be involved in addressing democratic change, especially the kind that is necessary to ensure that a progressive development takes place," said Ajamu Baraka, Amnesty International's southern regional director, who will speak at the event. "Developing civil society and support for human rights also are crucial components that have to be present in any particular society to bring about progressive changes."

A well-known and respected activist, Baraka has amassed considerable experience and wide-ranging knowledge through international field work, grassroots organizing, lecturing and leading delegations to several countries in Africa, Asia, Central America and South America. His activism spans two decades with organizations like the Southern Rainbow Education Project and the Voter Education Project.

With all the problems nations face today and the millions of people who have been displaced from their native countries, refugee programs play an increasingly important role. IRC regional director Peter Herbert will discuss the process of refugee resettlement. Founded in 1933, the IRC has become the leading nonprofit, nonsectarian, voluntary organization providing relief, protection and resettlement services for refugees and victims of oppression or violent conflict.

Herbert has worked with Bosnians since 1994 on humanitarian assistance and resettlement. He also will discuss refugee resettlement concerns in other areas, including Africa.

Public tickets for the event are $6 but free to Emory students, staff and faculty with prior registration. Call 404-420-3804 for a reservation or for more information.


Natasha Singh coordinates Conversations at The Carter Center.

Return to April 17, 2000 contents page