MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Dec 29 10:47:11 2004

Original sender: Alphia Abdikeeva <AAbdikeeva@osi.hu>

1. NEW EUMAP CALL FOR PAPERS: The European Union - Balancing Democratic
Deficit? (due 25 January). 
2. NEW ARTICLES ONLINE AT EUMAP.ORG: Information for Human Rights (Part
I and Part II) 
3. NEW EUMAP REPORT: Muslims in the UK (released 22 November 2004) 



"Democratic deficit" has become almost a cliché in theoretical and
political discourse about the European Union. But how just is it? The
year 2004 has seen a number of historic developments. On May 1, the
largest in the history of the EU enlargement brought in ten new members,
most of whom just recently overcame authoritarian regimes - by active
democratic process. The adoption of the European Constitution, which for
the first time spells out the rights of citizens promises (if endorsed
nationally) to become a solid democratic foundation for the new Union.
And the first "victory" of the European Parliament in a standoff with
the European Commission seems to be a sign of maturity of the only
democratically-elected body of the Union. There seems to be hope in
sight for the "Europe of Peoples"? Or does this all sound just too good
to be true?

EUMAP.ORG invites articles and opinion pieces on overcoming the
"democratic deficit" in the EU. Quality papers will be featured on the
Program's website (www.eumap.org) with the intention of framing and
encouraging debate on this issue. Papers should be 1,500-2,000 words.
Accepted authors will receive an honorarium of EUR 200.

Papers, in English, are invited on one of the following themes, or
closely-related alternative themes, for submission by 30 January 2005:

* One of the main - of many - points of criticism directed at the
"undemocratic" Union is the fact that unelected bodies impose rules on
the citizens of the Member States. But how different is this from
domestic systems of most democratic States? Is the fact that national
legislature is directly elected always a guarantee that the system is
truly representative and democratic? Thorough analyses and comparison of
varying decision-making processes, with possible checks and balances, on
the EU level and in selected national systems, and weighing pro's and
con's the change are particularly welcome.
* European Parliament. The European Parliament is the only EU body
elected directly by citizens of the EU. However, the 2004 elections saw
not only traditional apathy of voters but also a symbolic protest to the
domestic policies in several member states, rather than interest in EU
matters. Is this likely to negatively impact the work of the EP in this
term? How dangerous can a European Parliament whose members are elected
out of "revenge" be to the very objectives of the European integration?
Generally, how well is the EP equipped to become a major force in the
new EU?
* European Constitution. Can the new European Constitution remedy the
EU's "democratic deficit"? What concrete safeguards does the new EU
Constitution envision for making the Union more just, more democratic
and more people-centred? What is still missing?
* Public consultations. The European Commission, prior to proposing and
developing a policy, often initiates public consultations on important
issues, such as for example, the most recent consultations on
anti-discrimination policy and on establishment of the EU's Human Rights
Agency. How meaningful are such public consultations? Is there a real
chance that civil society might make a difference, or is there a risk
that certain issues might be hijacked by obscure interest groups, not
necessarily with public interest in mind, and a policy might be
distorted? Are there any safeguards against potential abuse of public
consultation by the few?
* Lobbying and influencing. What other means to influence the
decision-making process on the EU level are available? How effective and
transparent are those means? For example, what do people really know of
lobbying process on the EU level? Is there potential for colluding or
colliding by various interest groups? Are there - and what are there -
most effective examples of civil society influence on the EU? 

Please send papers to: submissions@eumap.org.

Eumap.org editorial policy and an archive of featured articles are
available online at: http://www.eumap.org/journal/features



Eumap.org - in collaboration with Human Rights Education Associates
(HREA) - is pleased to publish a feature on the most topical and
important issues regarding information and human rights. The feature
consists of two parts. The first part focuses on the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS). The second part is dedicated to case-studies
on specific uses of information to defend and promote human rights and
public interest issues around the globe.

Part I "The WSIS and beyond" deals with human rights and the information
society. Various UN and civil society agencies met in Geneva in 2003 at
the first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) with an aim to
work towards a "people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented
Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilise and
share information and knowledge". Although human rights were
specifically on the agenda, and the participants solemnly reaffirmed the
universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of human
rights, many activists felt that this important topic received only
marginal attention. The three different essays featured here scrutinise
both achievements and shortcomings of the first WSIS and the Declaration
of Principles and the Plan of Action adopted at the Summit.

* The role and responsibility of the EU in an development of the
inclusive and just information society is highlighted in the first
article of the selection, by a British scholar from the University of
Essex. The analysis shows that a so-called "digital divide" can have a
negative impact on human rights in the less developed countries; hopes
and expectations are placed on the upcoming second WSIS in Tunis in
January 2005. 
* The second article, by members of the Danish National Institute for
Human Rights, sheds light on a very complex impact that the information
society can have on human rights - from potential conflicts between data
collection and privacy, to dangers of ever-expanding state surveillance
in the name of security, to possible infringements on free speech; it
also highlights a recent good practice: a multinational Forum to enable
human rights defenders world-wide. 
* The third essay of the first part, by an Austrian academic, is
dedicated to the intricate nature of the relationship between various
rights, such as the right to information and the right to protection of
intellectual property. The article analyses how the information society
can resolve potential conflicts. 

Part II "Case Studies from Around the Globe" provides snapshots of how
information serves to defend and promote human rights and public
interest issues in different countries. Electronic resources, in
particular the Internet, have become perhaps the most important resource
for information and documentation about human rights. Even in less
developed countries on the other side of the ''digital divide'' - or
perhaps because of the digital divide - the shared electronic resources
have come to compensate the informational gaps. Many organisations and
institutions promoting human rights use the power of new media,
particularly the Internet, to educate people about civil and human
rights issues, the rights of vulnerable groups, and to generate debate
on a variety of public interest issues.

* A highly successful online anti-torture campaign by Amnesty
International is analysed in depth in the article by a British scholar
from the Leeds Metropolitan University. The two-year AI campaign -
although subsequently discontinued - has been a powerful tool to address
and in many instances stop torture. However, while the Internet has its
undeniable benefits, it also has its limitations, and human rights
advocates are urged to consider how to tame the power of Internet for
the world-wide advocacy, without sacrificing quality and credibility. 
* An experience of Nepal may be of use to anyone who is engaged in human
rights advocacy and aims to quickly and efficiently reach out to
communities often deprived of traditional means of information, either
due to the absence of infrastructure, or due to suppression of
information by states. 
* As if in response: an expert web developer shares concerns about
overreliance on the Internet - over the traditional means of gathering
and distributing information - and risks that could pose. 
* The discussion of state censorship and suppression of information in
China, a central theme of the article by an activist from the Garden
Networks, complements the discussion of various other issues raised in
the feature. A high-tech method of overcoming suppression of information
may be a (controversial) solution, sending a message to states that
sooner or later information becomes public knowledge, in spite of
censorship and suppression. 
* The Internet is only as good as people using it. Both the tremendous
potential and inevitable limitations of using the Internet for educating
the public and reaching out to policy makers by human rights defenders
in Belarus are studied by the creators of a new portal there. In a
context of restricted freedom, the Internet could be a means to promote
human rights and influence decision-makers - but only when human rights
defenders are themselves sufficiently aware of the issues and tools at
* Finally, activists engaged in anticorruption and transparency issues,
including competition policy and consumer protection, might find very
useful the piece by the president of the US-based Antitrust Institute, a
virtual public interest network, which was started from scratch, but
which thanks to enthusiasm and commitment of its members has grown to be
taken seriously by the government and decision-makers in the US. 

Part I: The World Summit and Beyond (available on:
Part II: Case Studies From Across the Globe (available on:

On 22 November EUMAP, in partnership with the Runnymede Trust, launched
in London a new monitoring report: Muslims in the UK: Policies for
Engaged Citizens (read press release:
The report is a follow up to Monitoring Minority Protection in the EU:
The Situation of Muslims in the UK published by EUMAP in November 2002
(available at http://www.eumap.org/reports), which provided a snapshot
of the situation of Muslims in terms of minority rights, and their
experiences of discrimination and disadvantage. The present report,
edited by Tufyal Chowdhury, focuses on four key policy areas, namely:
employment, education, the criminal justice system, and equality and
community cohesion. Authors include: Zamila Bunglawala (labour market
analyst, whose chapter was pre-released on 22 July 2004), Dr Basia
Spalek (University of Birmingham), Professor Mark Halstead
(Plymouth University) and Maleiha Malik (Kings College). 

Full report: http://www.eumap.org/reports/2004/britishmuslims 

Eumap.org is an online centre for comprehensive resources, news, and
analyses, committed to delivering information on, and generating debate
about, human rights and the rule of law in Europe. EUMAP.ORG is the
website of the Open Society Institute's EU Monitoring and Advocacy
Program. To find out more about the Program click here:

EUMAP has published reports on: 

- Minority Protection (in the five largest EU members and ten candidate
- Corruption and Anti Corruption Policy 
- Judicial Independence and Capacity 
- Equal Opportunities for Men and Women (in cooperation with OSI's
Network Women's Program/NWP) 

EUMAP reports are available here: http://www.eumap.org/reports. 

Currently EUMAP carries out the following new monitoring projects: 
- Access to Education and Employment for People with Intellectual
Disabilities (in cooperation with OSI's Mental Disability Advocacy
- Broadcasting Regulation and Media Independence (in cooperation with
OSI's Network Media Program/NMP) 

To contact EUMAP or receive further information on our activities,
please send us an email at eumap@osi.hu