Made possible by a generous grant from The John Templeton Foundation, Atlas Network brings together friends of the worldwide freedom movement in Regional Liberty Forums to learn from one another how to effectively advance free societies, the rule of law, free enterprise, and protections of private property.
At Regional Liberty Forums in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, participants attend interactive sessions, hear from distinguished speakers, and challenge one another to address the big questions about how to accelerate the advancement of freedom and prosperity. Regional Liberty Forums also celebrate successful partner projects with the Regional Liberty Awards. These awards annually recognize think tanks that have made important contributions to improving the landscape for enterprise and entrepreneurship in their regions. Successful award applicants have achieved impact and made innovative contributions to free enterprise research and advocacy.
This year, the Regional Liberty Forums were held in Mumbai, India, with local co-host the Centre for Civil Society (Asia); Buenos Aires, Argentina, with local co-host Fundación Libertad (Latin America); Johannesburg, South Africa, with local co-host the Free Market Foundation (Africa); and Budapest, Hungary, with local co-host the Free Market Foundation of Hungary (Europe).
Held in February with co-host the Centre for Civil Society, Asia Liberty Forum brought together more than 225 leaders, advocates, and think tank professionals from 22 countries to explore the work being done to break down the barriers to prosperity in the region.
Asia Liberty Award
“We’re seeking to tear down the market barriers that impede free markets and free enterprise for the 1 billion people of India,” said Amit Chandra, associate director for policy advisory at the New Delhi–based Centre for Civil Society (CCS). Chandra accepted the prestigious 2017 Asia Liberty Award on behalf of CCS for its “Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood Campaign.”
Amit Chandra and Parth Shah, president of CCS, receive the 2017 Asia Liberty Award.
Since 2009, CCS has pursued its Jeevika campaign to reduce the barriers that impede free markets and free enterprise, while simultaneously championing the freedom of India’s poorest citizens to pursue livelihoods unburdened by overbearing government regulation. To this end, Jeevika focuses primarily on liberalizing India’s informal economy, improving the lives of groups such as street vendors, rural artisans, and small entrepreneurs. Successful and sustained advocacy saw CCS succeed in securing and implementing the Street Vendors Act of 2014 in Rajasthan — landmark legislation protecting and legitimizing street vendors. The “Repeal 100 Laws Project,” a key element of the Jeevika Campaign, also succeeded in having 19 out of 25 onerous business laws repealed in Maharashtra, an influential state in western India.
The Centre for Civil Society team.
Held in May with co-host Fundación Libertad, Latin America Liberty Forum has unique suite of awards, granted to the region’s most exciting projects and people:
Giancarlo Ibárgüen Freedom Award
Rocio Guijarro Saucedo, the long-time leader of CEDICE Freedom, was also presented with the Giancarlo Ibárgüen Freedom Award, a prize given by the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research (HACER) that is designed to incentivize work that promotes personal liberty in a way that is consistent with human dignity. Ibárgüen, who passed away in March 2016, was an exemplary leader in the freedom movement for decades, with Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM) in Guatemala, Liberty Fund, the Mont Pelerin Society, and much more, and the award represents his unparalleled generosity, accepting spirit, openness toward innovation, penchant for discovery, and tireless, optimistic work in the face every challenge.
Giannina Raffo of CEDICE in Venezuela, Rocio Guijarro Saucedo of CEDICE, and Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen.
“Rocio Guijarro Saucedo has devoted most of her professional life to promote the free society,” said Alex Chafuen, Atlas Network’s president. “She has been the general manager of CEDICE Freedom during most of its history, leading it with courage, principle, and determination. Understanding the need that one can’t give what one does not have, she has attended and continues to attend relevant courses to improve her management talents and techniques. In addition to taking part in Atlas Network training programs, with her first long-term fellowships during the early ‘90s, she honed her skills at Instituto de Estudios Avanzados in Venezuela, Central American Institute of Business Administration in Costa Rica, and other programs in the United States.”
Chafuen also lauded Guijarro’s unflagging spirit in promoting freedom, in the spirit of the award’s namesake.
“Like Giancarlo Ibárgüen, she never lost her optimism for the cause of the free society,” Chafuen continued. “She has always been open to the many diverse philosophical currents that nurture classical liberalism, and she has always been supportive of the staff she manages given them opportunities to grow and develop new projects. Atlas trustee Lúis Henrique Ball, who for many years was a CEDICE trustee, writes, ‘Rocío has bravely faced persecution in her native Venezuela, and over the years has become a leading figure in the grass roots movement that is now fighting for democracy. The Venezuelan student movement has honored her as one of their own.’ Recently, one of the leading networks of policy-oriented free-market think tanks in Latin America, RELIAL, appointed her as the new president. Her example inspires all who work for freedom around the world. Giancarlo would have been extremely happy that she won the 2017 HACER Freedom Award that bears his name.”
Juan Carlos Cachanosky Award for Dissemination of the Principles of a Free Society
Chilean economist and presidential candidate Felipe Kast, Julio Bratz Lamb of Instituto de Estudos Empresariais in Brazil, and Atlas Network President Alex Chaufen.
For its longstanding Forum da Liberdade (Liberty Forum), which was originally launched in 1988, Instituto de Estudos Empresariais in Brazil was awarded the Juan Carlos Cachanosky Award for Dissemination of the Principles of a Free Society. The forum stages debates that explore how best to solve the region’s problems, and is expanding its scope to include a workshop on entrepreneurship in order to help support the promotion of ideas with practical social and economic impact. The Forum da Liberdade has influenced government policy in Brazil during the last three decades through its advice to political leaders, and student involvement in the forum has led to the creation of new organizations, such as Instituto Atlantos.
Miguel Kast Award for Free-Market Solutions to Poverty
Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen, Guillermo Peña Panting of Fundación Eléutera in Honduras, and Jorge Colindres of Fundacion Eleutera.
Fundación Eléutera has had substantial success in reforming tax and business regulations in Honduras, which garnered the organization the Miguel Kast Award for Free-Market Solutions to Poverty. When Honduras passed a new tax code in 2016, it incorporated 14 of the 20 proposals made by Fundación Eléutera, helping protect the due process rights of more than 2 million registered taxpayers. The organization’s “My Company Online” (Mi Empresa En Línea) program led to the passage of reforms that established a simple procedure for creating a business, through either an online platform or a paper form; eliminated the need to provide notification to the tax administration; and allowed the use of digital platforms for archiving accounting records and shareholder meeting minutes. Now anybody can create a legal business entity in a single day for less than US$45.
Francisco de Vitoria Award for Ethics and Values
The Watchdog for Freedom and Democracy in Venezuela is a project by CEDICE Freedom is a civil society observatory that won the Francisco de Vitoria Award for Ethics and Values. By monitoring high government spending, private property violations, abuses of individual rights in Venezuela, the Watchdog for Freedom and Democracy provides a vehicle to alert citizens and instill a public conscience regarding their freedom. The watchdog program contains an economic-legislative observatory, which contributes to improving the democratic dialogue in Venezuela and analyzes the impact of economic regulations; a property rights observatory, which identifies and categorizes every type of violation against private property in Venezuela; and a public expenditure observatory, which aims to improve transparency and quality of information in the disclosure of government spending. CEDICE Freedom’s watchdog program has trained more than 1,500 people in its workshops, including 53 members of the National Assembly and 31 councillors and mayors. It has also generated significant legislator interest in its “Organic Law of Promotion and Defense of the Private Property” proposal, and attracted more than 3,500 media hits despite widespread government media control.
Also held in May was Africa Liberty Forum, co-hosted with the Free Market Foundation (South Africa), where more than 125 influencers and think tank professionals from 16 countries gathered to discuss the best and the brightest work breaking down the barriers to prosperity and opportunity on the continent.
Africa Liberty Award
The winner of the 2017 Africa Liberty Award was the FMF for its Khaya Lam Land Reform Project. The aim of this ongoing project is to convert state-owned rental properties into unambiguous freehold title, giving property rights to Africans previously denied this fundamental right. So far, more than 3,000 title deeds have been transferred.
According to the FMF team, when one beneficiary of the project, Mrs Maria Mothupi, received her title, she said she could finally say that for her, apartheid truly came to an end.
Jasson Urbach, director of the FMF, discusses the Khaya Lam Land Reform Project
“Upon receiving title to her property, Mrs. Mothupi said she could now sleep peacefully and could stop worrying knowing that her children and grandchildren have a secure home. And her story is not unique,” explained Jasson Urbach, director of the FMF. “She is one of several thousand government tenants to benefit from the project; most, like Maria, have been waiting their entire lives for the day to be able to say they own the home they live in. The Khaya Lam project is a living example of a fundamental truth expressed by Sir John Templeton who said that property rights are essential for human rights. This project is about unlocking freedom that has been denied to black South Africans for over a century.”
The Free Market Foundation team.
The final Regional Liberty Forum was held in Europe in September, with co-host Free Market Foundation (Hungary). The setting of this year’s forum added heightened importance to the topics discussed because of Hungary’s historical and current struggle with protecting individual rights. Representing 34 countries, 134 of Europe’s best and brightest gathered in Budapest to celebrate wins, share inspirational stories, and brainstorm how to continue to break down barriers to prosperity and opportunity Europe.
Europe Liberty Award
The winner of the 2017 Europe Liberty Award was Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation (UEFF) for its work advancing land reform in Ukraine. The project’s aim is to repeal the national ban on selling agricultural land – affecting about 28 million hectares of arable land in Ukraine. It has made marked progress to achieve that aim as the Ukrainian Parliament has passed several UEFF-drafted laws relating to land reform, achieving what other, big-government programs could not.
UEFF's Maryan Zablotskyy receives Europe Liberty Award from Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips during Europe Liberty Forum 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.
Speaking of the importance of his organization’s work, Maryan Zablotskyy said, “UEFF will continue its fight to eliminate the ban to purchase and sell agricultural land, which is unjustly violating private property rights of 7 million people. We already made significant progress towards it by resolving key regulatory issues that are an obstacle for the land reform … A focus on concrete, albeit often relatively small reforms, is our chosen strategy for achieving large reforms. This has resulted in the adoption of 11 different law drafts that helped eliminate 29 different business permits, strengthen land property rights and improve tax administration. In all this, Atlas Network’s training and financial support have been instrumental.”
Attend the 2018 Regional Liberty Forums:
Asia Liberty Forum 2018, February 10-11, 2018: Jakarta, Indonesia
Europe Liberty Forum 2018, May 29-30, 2018: Copenhagen, Denmark
Latin America Liberty Forum 2018, June 14-15, 2018: Santiago, Chile
Africa Liberty Forum 2018, August 23-24, 2018: Lagos, Nigeria