MEDIA CONTACTS: WASHINGTON, DC

Kelly Lees
EMAIL: klees@usia.gov
TEL: 202-619-4355
FAX: 202-619-6988

Catherine Stearns
EMAIL: cstearns@usia.gov
TEL: 202-401-1190
FAX: 202-619-6988


MEDIA ADVISORY
June 21, 1999 

 


NOBEL LAUREATE WOLE SOYINKA ADDRESSES 'DEMOCRACY AS A UNIVERSAL IDEA' AT CIVITAS PALERMO WORLD CONGRESS

 

 

 

Palermo, Italy -- Dr. Wole Soyinka, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature, today spoke about 'Democracy as a Universal Idea' on this final day of the CIVITAS Palermo World Congress.

The Palermo World Congress opened June 18 with a keynote address by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sponsored by CIVITAS International, the City of Palermo, and the Italian Ministry of Education, the event is designed to strengthen the international campaign for education for democracy and showcase Palermo as a model of civic reform. Dr. Soyinka joined the First Lady, Mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando, President designate of the European Commission Romano Prodi, and hundreds of educators and civic leaders from over 80 countries to discuss strategies for building global support for education to build a culture of democracy and lawfulness, combat crime, and empower citizens.

"When it comes to law-making and national expenditure, the very notion that a legislative bill can be routinely tagged onto the passage of a national budget is one that fills observers from other nations with horror, seeing in it nothing but a recipe for potential chaos and paralysis of government! _ Yet the citizens perceive no contradictions in their system, and cling to the belief that they have the greatest democratic system in the world!" said Dr. Soyinka of the United States. "Now why is that? One major consideration, arising even from that cited example of apparent governmental anomie is - the division of authority, and thus the institution of controls within the very operations of power - in short, the very antithesis of dictatorship._ Democracy, like anarchism, recognizes the danger of the monopoly or concentration of power within narrow sections of society and seeks to widen its base, placing its legitimacy within popular representation."

For the full-text of Dr. Soyinka's speech, please call the media contacts named above or refer to the Civnet website: http://civnet.org/index.html.