News from NDI: Organizing Debates, The Struggle for Civil Society in Egypt

NDI New Website Has Practical Information for Organizing Candidate Debates

July 2014

Bringing candidates together to discuss issues face to face with voters and each other has become a mainstay of the political landscape in many nations. Especially in new democracies, debates help voters make informed choices, hold candidates accountable for their election promises and reduce the potential for political violence. However, organizing a debate is a difficult task—challenges range from fundraising to convincing candidates to participate.

A new website created by NDI and the U.S.-based Commission on Presidential Debates provides information to help sponsors organize all aspects of candidate debates, from selecting a format to set design to ethical guidelines, and more. Read more»

NDI's Lila Jaafar testifies on "The Struggle for Civil Society in Egypt"


"There is still a great hunger for democracy in Egypt," said NDI staff member Lila Jaafar in July 24 testimony before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. She said this is "especially among the youth who now recognize that it will take more than street demonstrations to create a more pluralistic and democratic system." Jaafar - one of 43 people convicted last June as part of a crackdown by the Egyptian government on NGOs - testified at a hearing on "The Struggle for Civil Society in Egypt." Read more»

Nicaragua Leadership Academy Reunion Connects Young Leaders


More than 1,300 young activists, political party members and civil society representatives from across Nicaragua have completed NDI's Leadership and Political Management program over the past four years to hone the skills needed to govern and become democratic community leaders. A reunion this spring, which brought together 150 alumni, also marked the launch of RedEs (Red de Egresados y Egresadas), a network to help the graduates support each other as they work to design and carry out advocacy and political projects in their communities. Read more»

New NDI Guide Looks at Ways to Curb Electoral Violence

Monitoring Electoral Violence Guide

A new publication from NDI documents how nonpartisan citizen observers are playing an increasingly important role in monitoring elections and mitigating electoral violence around the world. The guide, Monitoring and Mitigating Electoral Violence through Nonpartisan Citizen Observation, looks at areas such as long-term observation, media monitoring, crowdsourcing and mapping violence related data, and mitigating violence. Read more »

New Tails Computer Operating System Helps Protect Activists


As the Internet has made it easier to access and share information, it has also opened up users to security threats. Civil society advocates in closed societies often face the threat of their communications being tracked, hacked and disabled. That’s where Tails—“The Amnesic Incognito Live System” — comes in. The system allows users to be anonymous on the Internet, circumvent censorship and defend against hackers. NDI recently celebrated the launch of Tails 1.0 during a June 6 panel discussion in Washington, D.C. Read more »

Liberian Student's Moving Testimony Sparks Efforts to Improve Sanitation


Seventeen-year-old Theresa Kanneh stood in front of a group of Liberian senators as she described the poor state of sanitation in the nation's schools. Conditions are so poor, she said, that students are forced to relieve themselves in bushes due to a lack of working toilets. Her testimony — the result of an investigative study mission for legislators organized by NDI and the WASH Network — has inspired senators on the Joint Committee on Public Works and Rural Development and Public Corporations to renew efforts for reform in the water and sanitation sector. Read more »

Mexican Congress Launches New Initiative to Increase Legislative Transparency

MX legislative transparency

Despite a 2002 federal law requiring transparency and access to information, citizens of Mexico still face difficulty receiving data they need to participate in the policy making process and hold their government officials accountable. This spring, during the country's first Transparency and Open Parliament Week, the Mexican Congress gathered more than 250 people in an unprecedented effort to take steps to increase transparency and involve citizens in the legislative process. Read more 

MX elections meeting

In another first, Mexico City hosted a meeting with election experts from more than 25 countries on five continents, who discussed how to promote electoral integrity and strengthen election observation around the world. The Electoral Management Body-Citizen Observer-International Observer Dialogue was hosted by NDI, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE), the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) and the Organization of American States (OAS). Read more 

Madame Parliamentarian Documentary Explores Political Presence of Women in Lebanon

Madame Parliamentarian

Despite being one of the first countries in the Arab world to give women the right to vote, only four of 128 parliamentarians in Lebanon are women. A new documentary, Madame Parliamentarian, examines the political challenges facing Lebanese women vying for a place in the country’s political process. NDI recently hosted a screening and panel with filmmaker Rouane Itani on strategies to increase women’s political participation in the region. Read more »

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