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Open Society Foundations;
Despite deep concerns about the future of democracy, people in Central and Eastern Europe retain a strong attachment to civil society and faith in the freedoms achieved with the collapse of Communism, according to States of Change: Attitudes in Central and Eastern Europe 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, a report from the Open Society Foundations.
Based on polling by YouGov conducted in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, States of Change provides a snapshot of current opinion on democracy, freedom of speech, the market economy, and the media in the former Eastern Bloc and Germany.
Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York;
After 1990, US and European foundations and government agencies invested in a series of Partnerships and Trusts to support civil society in Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltics, the Balkans and the Black Sea regions. Analyzing the long-term impact of these investments is crucial, especially as many politicians across these regions increase their anti-civil society rhetoric. Three long-time US foundation staff look back at the legacy and impact of this funding and derive a series of lessons for practitioners seeking to understand how best to sustain civil societies for the long term.
Presently, the culture of open discussion seems to be threatened in an increasing number of countries. In Central and Eastern Europe's (CEE's) democracies, recent political developments appear to jeopardize progresses made in the past. Against this background, this study aims at shedding light on the dynamics of CEE'scivil society and gives a brief overview of the status quo and recent developments that directly affect civil society.
The study was conducted by the Competence Center for Nonprofit Organizations and Social Entrepreneurship at WU Vienna (Vienna University of Economics and Business), commissioned by and in collaboration with ERSTE foundation as well as with a group of country experts. The inclusion of expert assessments on civil society aims at giving a voice primarily to practitioners. Therefore, the study included an online survey in each participating country, addressing CSO representatives operating in various fields of activity.
Rockefeller Archive Center;
The ascendance of a norm of non-violent protest or "civil resistance" against a government or occupying force may, at first, seem self-evident. As modern states have come to attain overwhelming military and policing powers over their populations, the idea of using violent means to oppose a regime seems ineffective, at best, and dangerous, at worst. Yet, the near total embrace of and insistence on non-violence should not be considered a foregone conclusion. They must be examined historically so as to understand how people across time and space have supported what was fundamentally a radical ideology of resistance to inequality, colonialism, and political repression.
This project centers on the question of how non-violence became a norm for resistance and struggle. It focuses on the potential entanglement of two processes of transformation: the Black American freedom struggle and the regime changes in East Central Europe in 1989, that are inexorably linked to non-violence or peaceful transition. It considers how the "other" transatlantic relationship, between Black Americans and eastern Europeans during the Cold War, shaped opposition politics in East Central Europe. This project places a special emphasis on the intellectual roots, social organization, and tactical methods of non-violent political opposition and peace movements in Hungary from approximately 1947 to 1990. It will also pay special attention to how the socialist ideal of revolutionary action changed over time, as the needs of socialists states changed. These changes then required a reformulation of what type of behavior fit into the framework of communist and anti-communist revolutionary activity, but also a reformulation of masculinized heroism that butted heads with older tropes of the muscular industrial worker and the defiant freedom fighter.
More than two decades have passed since nonprofit and third-sector researchers "discovered" Central and Eastern Europe as an area of scholarly interest. After the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Iron Curtain, scholars noted the emergence of new civil society actors and were curious to understand the role these actors would play in their societies. Since that time, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has experienced intensive periods of transformation, conflict and renewal. This study is guided by the intention to develop a better understanding of the current state of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe, the diverse pathways of its development, and its possible future trajectories.
Through the EEA Grants and Norway Grants, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein aim to reduce economic and social disparities and strengthen cooperation with 16 countries in Central and Southern Europe. A mid-term evaluation of the current EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14 was conducted by COWI during the second half of 2015 and early 2016 at the request of the Financial Mechanism Office, EEA and Norway Grants. The aim of the mid-term evaluation is to assess to what extent and in which way the EEA and Norway Grants contribute towards strengthening bilateral relations between donor and beneficiary states. The evaluation covers four out of the ten priority sectors of the EEA and Norway Grants and five of the 16 beneficiary countries (Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia), representing 19.4% of the allocated total of EUR 1.8 billion.
Open Society Foundations;
Since 2010, the Open Society Think Tank Fund has supported projects that propose new uses of data for advocacy and target non-traditional stakeholders, to develop challenging and complementary information sets for broader application in the policy sphere, and to use data sets to challenge commonly accepted facts in a given policy field. The Fund assisted think tanks with bringing these data sources to light; enhancing their usefulness by expansion, maintenance, and use of this information; integrating such enhancements into their daily routines; and promoting a new culture of presenting policy research findings and thus reaching untapped audiences.
The Data Matters presents highlights and successes of projects supported between 2010 and 2013, illustrating how data matters in the everyday lives of citizens of many countries. This portfolio is offered as inspiration for members of NGOs, think tanks, and advocacy organizations who are focusing on using data for informing discussion on policy cha
The first of three publications on the '25 Years After -- Mapping Civil Society in the Visegrád Four' project contains an overview of existing data and literature in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. It looks at where and what kind of research on civil society has been and is being done, who is doing it and where the gaps are.
To be consistent and comparable, the four country reports include the same core sections: relevant publications on civil society in the respective country; existing databases and other data sources; active centres of research, training, and policy studies. More than providing just a list, this report looks at how they can be evaluated in terms of scope, accurateness and depth. Finally, it considers the question of what the most crucial gaps in research and funding in the countries are.
An academic volume is slated for the end of 2014. For other publications in English and German, see www.maecenata.eu.
Open Society Foundations;
Across Central and Eastern Europe, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities are excluded from full participation in society—from education and employment, to housing and marriage. Not all countries with inclusive policies have transformed these into meaningful action.
Following the European Union's ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, member states must align their policies with their practices to ensure that the human rights of people with disabilities are respected. In 2010 the European Parliament adopted the European Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which established a framework to achieve this goal.
This publication by the European Network on Independent Living is a resource for state governments and civil society involved in the development of national disability policies and strategies. It proposes priorities and steps for governments to take to protect the human rights and full social inclusion of people with disabilities. It features an annex of resources that includes a descriptive list of all international and European legal and policy documents relevant to people with disabilities.
Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.
The U.S. Congress should fully fund the administration's $47.8 billion request for base international affairs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. This request represents a 6% reduction from FY 12 funding levels and a 14% reduction from the FY 13 request, reflecting the difficult budget environment that lawmakers currently face. The foreign affairs budget, which represents less than 1% of the annual U.S. budget, provides an invaluable set of tools for advancing U.S. foreign policy interests. The relatively modest investments that fall under the international affairs budget bear great returns, as the American government helps develop stable, democratic partners that cooperate on trade, security, immigration, and economic issues. Amid weariness among the American people with military engagement overseas, diplomacy is an inherently less costly means of advancing interests.
In repressive countries, the smallest amount of U.S. assistance can bring hope and provide a lifeline to those who face imprisonment, torture, or even death for speaking out in support of freedom, while helping to engender the next generation of potential leaders. Recent developments in the Middle East, Russia, Burma and elsewhere show the importance of robust, strategic, and flexible funding for the United States to respond effectively to quickly changing situations on the ground and continue to play a leadership role in the international community.
The budget plans produced by the House and Senate for FY 14 differ greatly from one another and from the President's request. The House Republican budget resolution would fund international affairs at $38.7 billion for FY 14, 20% less than the President's request, and a staggering 29% less than the FY 12 actual numbers. Cuts of that magnitude would have a devastating effect on the ability of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to carry out their diplomatic work and assistance programs. While it is important at present for every federal agency to eliminate redundancies, streamline operations, and reevaluate priorities, such sweeping cuts to an already miniscule budget would do great and needless harm. The Senate budget resolution proposes $45.6 billion in base international affairs funding.
Funding for Democracy and Human Rights represents 9% of the total request for foreign assistance for FY 14, less than 1/10th of 1% of the total U.S. budget. The administration's proposal will support important initiatives that protect and promote democracy, rule of law, and human rights, including:
Flexible funding to support democratic change in the Middle East through a Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund.
Increased funding for priority regions, including Asia and Africa.
Robust funding for priority countries and territories including Afghanistan, Mexico, South Sudan, the West Bank and Gaza, and Burma.
Increases in some areas are balanced by decreases in others, including:
The elimination of the Assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia Account (AEECA) and decreases in the Europe and Eurasia region overall.
Large decreases in democracy funding for Iraq and Pakistan.
Regional and country-level decreases in the Western Hemisphere and in South and Central Asia.
While the administration understandably has had to make difficult tradeoffs to reach budget goals, there are some areas where decreased funding would be harmful to achieving U.S. strategic policy goals and Congress can provide additional support:
Congress should fund the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and USAID's Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) at the FY 12 levels. These two bureaus provide leadership within their agencies on democracy and human rights policy and require adequate resources to continue doing so.
Congress should allow the administration to meet the United States' assessed obligations to the United Nations for FY14. Moreover, Congress should reinstate funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which supports many cultural, social, and educational programs in line with the U.S.'s own values.
The administration must work with Congress to identify innovative ways to support civil society in countries with difficult operating environments, including Russia, Bolivia, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
Robust funding for international affairs in FY 14 will give America's diplomats the tools they need to advance U.S. interests abroad and maintain the United States' role as a global leader. Such funding alone is not enough, however. The administration must match a strong budget with clear policy decisions and a consistently forceful message, communicated both publicly and privately, that democracy and human rights are of the utmost importance to the United States.
This report summarizes the most notable requests, changes, and new developments within the administration's democracy and human rights budget for FY14. It also offers policy recommendations and suggestions for budget adjustments to better align funding allocations with U.S. interests.
Civil society is increasingly coming under assault around the world, as authoritarian governments grow more bold and sophisticated in stifling independent groups that monitor elections, expose corruption, or otherwise give citizens a voice in how they are governed. In response, senior U.S. officials have reaffirmed their support for universal rights, including freedom of association, while mid-level officials have criticized specific abuses against civil society. However, only modest U.S. government efforts have dealt systematically with the global nature of the crackdown on civil society. This weak U.S. response to the crackdown hurts U.S. interests and undermines U.S. credibility abroad. The U.S. government needs to respond to the threats against civil society more forcefully.
To curb the global crackdown, the United States needs to systematically oppose efforts by authoritarian governments to control civic space, take vigorous political and diplomatic measures to support civil society organizations that come under threat, and get around government restrictions designed to isolate local organizations from the international community. Effective U.S. policy to defend civil society needs to respond comprehensively to the global nature of the crackdown and, at the same time, turn the tide in key countries where repression of civil society has significant regional repercussions. While bipartisan collaboration is critical to make such policy effective, a strong U.S. response to the global crackdown on civil society must begin in the White House.