CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

Disclosing Hidden History: Lustration in the Western Balkans (2004-2005)

’Disclosing hidden history: Lustration in the Western Balkans’ was a project aimed at shedding light on the recent non-democratic past, through the opening up of government documents and institutions, in order to debate the past, make a clean break with it and put democratic procedures in place to move past it. The  project was made possible by the financial support of the European Union and USAID. The project created a regional network of NGOs and specialised work groups with the purpose of strengthening good governance, the rule of law, and the participation of civil society in the democratic process, via regional and local activities. Specifically, this project aimed to enhance lustration legislation and practices and extend citizen participation in the public debate on the issues of the recent past, in the Western Balkans. The project impacted on society as a whole because it addressed the fundamental legal and political issue of democratisation. The main primary target groups  were legislators, legal experts, public administration officials and civil and human rights activists and groups. Project activities  included a series of thematic workshops and seminars, the initiating of an NGO network on ’Lustration and the Public Debates on the Past’, the creation of a website with a manual on lustration legislation and practices, and the publication of recommendations on best practices.

Partners:

Albanian Human Rights Group, Tirana: Founded in September 1996, the Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG) aims to raise awareness about violations of human rights; to promote the freedom of press and the rights of journalists; to strive  for the recognition and protection of minority rights; to defend the rights of children and women; to investigate the conditions in Albanian prisons and police stations; and to assist the further education of Albanian society. Some of AHRG's projects to date include observing parliamentary elections, monitoring the violation of human rights, and an assistance programme for Kosovo women.

Centre for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies of the University of Sarajevo: The Centre for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies (CIPS) has existed since 1995, at first as a macro-project of the Open Society Institute BiH. It has a broad mandate to assist with legal issues surrounding the transition of BiH to a democratic state through review and reform of existing legislature and development of a strong civil society in order to bring the state of BiH closer to the legal framework of the European Union. CIPS focuses on legal educational programmes for students, judges, lawyers, professors, ministry personnel, and human rights activities, and acts as a meeting point for more than 100 prominent experts, local and international, in various academic and professional fields devoted to the establishment of working democracy and protection of human rights.

Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Zagreb: The Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (CHC) was founded in March 1993 as a member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, based in Vienna. The mission of CHC is to protect and promote human rights in Croatia and the rights of Croatian citizens, as well as to organise education in human rights. CHC supports the development of democratic institutions, promotes the rule of law, organises research, has established a database for human rights in Croatia, and helps victims of human rights violations.

Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia, Skopje: The Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia (FOSIM) is one of the Soros Foundations that extends to 31 countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and worldwide. The Soros Foundations are dedicated to building and maintaining the infrastructure and institutions of an open society. Each national foundation in the network designs a work plan specific to the needs of the country. Activities include programmes in the fields of education, health, civil society, media, law, culture, arts, public administration, women's issues, and economic development.

Center for Antiwar Action, Belgrade: The Center for Antiwar Action (CAA) is an association of citizens founded in July 1991 in Belgrade, which formed a nucleus of a revolutionary peace movement, with the specific goal of resisting war. Now, the long-term goals of the CAA are to lay foundations of a civil society, non-violent conflict resolution, the development of democracy and democratic institutions, a legal state and a civic society, as well as the study of human rights and humanitarian law. In line with these goals, the CAA has organised numerous seminars, round-tables, panel discussions, and actively researches and monitors minority rights.