Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

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Transition Promotion Program

 

The Transition Promotion Program is a democracy assistance financial instrument of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic established in 2005. This program is aimed at support to democracy and human rights, using the Czech Republic’srecent experience with the social transition and democratization of the country. Projects within this program are implemented in cooperation with Czech civil society organizations and their local partners, underpinning the importance of civil society in democratization processes.

The Transition Promotion Program is a democracy assistance financial instrument of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic established in 2005. This program is aimed at support to democracy and human rights, using the Czech Republic’srecent experience with the social transition and democratization of the country. Projects within this program are implemented in cooperation with Czech civil society organizations and their local partners, underpinning the importance of civil society in democratization processes.

The program is administrated by the Human Rights & Transition Policy Department that functions as a kind of  “implementing agency”. The annual budget for 2013 amounts to 1,93 mil EUR.

The majority of funds (roughly 90% of the annual budget) are distributed through a call for proposals scheme announced usually in autumn each ear. Successful applicants are notified before the end of the year so that the grantees have enough time to properly reflect evaluation committee’scomments and implement the project in time. Due to the Czech state budget regulation, the program works on a calendar year basis however eligible duration of projects ranges from 9 to 36 months. Only Czech NGOs are eligible. Each applicant has to secure at least 10% co-financing. Remaining funds (10% of the annual budget) are held as a reserve and distributed during the course of the year by the MFA on ad hoc basis - this represents an important flexible tool that enables immediate reaction to inputs and developments during the year. These funds are implemented either by Czech NGOs, the MFA HQ or Czech Embassies in target countries and occasionally are also used to support minor activities in non-priority countries. It also enables us to co-finance projects supported by major foreign donors, such as EC (especially EIDHR), USAID or UNDP.

Target countries

The program has 10 priority countries that may be divided in 2 groups of countries:

1/ developing countries and countries in transition: Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Iraq and Burma (that until recently belonged to the 2nd group)

2/ countries with undemocratic regimes where human rights are violated such as Cuba and Belarus.

Priority Areas

Types of activities supported in each of the two groups may slightly differ however priority areas of the program for all 10 countries can be identified as following:

 Support to the development of Civil Society

Strong and active civil society is bedrock of functioning and sustainable democracy; thus the program pays primary attention to the support of civil society organizations and their all-round development. In the framework of the Transition Promotion Program Czech NGOs have been building the capacities of civil society organizations in target partner countries in the organization and project management, fundraising, campaigning and advocacy activities or PR. Czech NGO trainers have experience and knowledge to share also on issues like how to advocate for a favorable legal framework, how to prepare for withdrawal of major international donors and promote corporate social responsibility concept and private sponsorship, or how to articulate common interests and promote shared objectives and values. Local NGOs representatives are regularly given the opportunity to participate in trainings and workshops organized in the third country as well as in the Czech Republic. Special effort is dedicated to networking and to building links with partners in the Czech Republic and the EU working in the same field of activity. A ‘small grants scheme’ is considered to be a perfect complement to lectures and trainings, therefore within projects local NGOs are often provided with an opportunity to apply for small grants to implement their own project and to test gained theoretical skills in real situation while being assisted by the trainer.

 Cooperation with Local Authorities

Active involvement of citizens in the decision-making processes as well as the openness and transparency of the authorities is a pre-requisite of functioning democracy and its ability to deliver to the people. Therefore special attention is paid to civic participation. Closer cooperation between local authorities and the public is promoted, usually by identification of priorities through a series of public meetings and moderated debates and eventually the joint implementation of a common project of priority. Trainings and study trips for local representatives are also provided to improve their competencies especially in the field of community development plan, project management, and self-organization.

Media

Free and professional media is a key precondition for a stabilized democracy and a public control over political power. As the situation in media sector varies within the target countries so does the scope of the activities – from the direct support to the external broadcasters through trainings of journalists to support for new media and civic journalism. Trainings on how to report on particular topics (the EU, environmental issues, minority problems, court proceedings etc) are also provided with the aim to raise the quality of journalism and the overall media landscape.

Youth

The Czech Republic is active in promoting alternative forms of education, introduction of new topics in the curricula (multicultural education, human rights education, EU topics etc.) and methods focused on the education towards active citizenship (interactive teaching with practical exercises, screening of thematic films, debating student competitions to improve their argumentation skills and learn to discuss potentially controversial topics).

Human Rights Defenders

Support to Human Rights Defenders is a longstanding element of the Czech foreign policy. Within the Transition promotion program we support activities that are in conformity with EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. Projects aimed at HRDs include wide range of activities and consist of advocacy and raising awareness activities, direct support to HRDs and their families (material, legal, medical and other assistance, sheltering, emergency visas etc.).

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