||Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe|
What is IDEE?
Centers for Pluralism
Centers for Pluralism was the first regional response — copied afterwards by several others — to address the common challenges being faced by democratic activists in all postcommunist countries. The CfP program has brought together hundrds of civic and pro-democracy forces across the broadest geographic, national, ethnic, and religious borders in an effort to share experiences, build common programs, and foster a regional community dedicated to democratic values.
The Centers for Pluralism program identified key pro-democracy non-governmental organizations in post-communist countries that could serve as vehicles for helping develop other civic groups and networks within their own countries as well as for promoting contacts and working relationships with counterparts in other countries. In this way, Centers for Pluralism strengthened the foundation of civil society as well as built networks of democrats for the region. The educational premise was that it is easier to learn from each other and together; the political premise was that in times of transition to democracy, it is necessary to fill the social vacuum with authentic, honest civic organizations that can create the necessary environment for liberal democratic politics to emerge and function.
For ten years, until 2003, Centers for Pluralism and partner organization held regular full meetings organized by IDEE (at least once annually) as well as regional meetings to exchange information and experiences, develop common programs, and network to strengthen civil society in the region. As a result of these meetings, CfPs developed common programs addressing similar problems faced in postcommunist countries, such as decommunization, corruption, the weakness of political elites, lack of knowledge of ethical principles governing free media and democratic politics, the need for development of the NGO sector, teaching young political leaders in democratic theory and practice, fostering inter-ethnic tolerance, promoting independent and cross-border monitoring of elections, civic education and NGO skills training initiatives, among others.
In addition, IDEE has organized a variety of initiatives to strengthen these efforts, including a small grants program that has awarded more than 500 organizational and program grants to the CfP Network; a regional internship and exchange program involving more than 100 NGO and democratic activists gaining knowledge from more experienced CfPs; and, as part of its other regional programs, special internships, exchanges, and observation monitoring teams in which dozens of leaders of successful civic and political movements have gone to Cuba, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and other dictatorships and semi-authoritarian regimes. As a result of all these Centers for Pluralism initiatives, participating NGOs have expanded their programs, capabilities, contacts, and funding, allowing them to reach a broader community of thousands of NGOs and activists throughout the region. The Centers for Pluralism themselves, as well as partner organizations, became strong, self-sustaining, and central members of their countries NGO communities, often taking leading roles in civic and democracy movements.
The Centers for Pluralism Newsletter and its Russian, Azeri, Belarusan, and Ukrainian editions broadened the reach of the CfP program to more than 2,500 people throughout the region. The English-language Newsletter publishes articles on civic and political developments in the region, opens discussions on controvelsial issues, provides useful information for NGOs, and the activities and contact information of more than 800 NGOs.In addition, to fostering contacts among NGOs across borders, the Newsletter serves as a key resource for Western donors and other organizations providing assistance in the region. The 28th issue, in 2004, was its last (until new funding). An anniversary publication, Centers for Pluralism - Networking for Democracy, celebrate the achievements of the CfP Network in its first 10 years. It is downloadable in PDF format in full and in sections.
The full program of the Centers
for Pluralism was financed for ten years by the National Endowment for
Democracy, until 2003 when it discontinued funding. Since then, IDEE
Centers for Pluralism have continued to maintain this unique and vital
through a variety of different programs and initiatives. For one, the
for Pluralism have often involved other organizations in the network in
individual programs. As well, over the last five years IDEE has
experienced democracy activists from more than twenty countries in a
innovative programs, including the Armenian
Building Community Connections Program, the Azerbaijan
Election Monitoring Program, a Belarus Election
Project in 2004, the Civic
Bridges–Central Asia program (2003-05), as well as IDEE's more
recent programs, like Democracy for
Cuba (2005-11), Raising
Consciousness for Freedom in Belarus (2007-10), and the Georgia
Election Monitoring Mission in 2012 programs, among others.
its programs, IDEE has been able to draw upon the the experience,
knowledge, and solidarity of more than 250 civic and democracy
have wished to help their colleagues in repressive conditions.
See also List of CfP Partners
1718 M Street, NW, No. 147, Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 361-9346 · E-mail: [email protected]
Eric Chenoweth and Irena Lasota, Directors