21 September 2007
The Budapest-based International Center for Democratic Transition (ICDT) is an independent institute established by a non-partisan public foundation of the Hungarian Government, with the mission to support peaceful democratic transitions around the world. The Centre, which signed a partnership agreement recently with UNDEF, is active in collecting, analyzing, adapting and transferring the knowledge and experiences of the recent transitions in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe to other nations which are determined to follow this path.
Based on the conviction that the protection of the rights of all groups affected by democratic transition is a necessary element of sustainable democracy, UNDEF and ICDT have developed a one-year initiative to promote effective legal institutions and mechanisms to protect the rights of marginalized groups in three target countries: Mali, Mongolia and Morocco.
The core of the project is an effort to enhance the democratic rights of populations experiencing unequal rights due to gender, economic status, disability, minority group membership or other illegitimate reasons.
In order to carry out this effort, ICDT has invited a working group of approximately ten to fifteen participants from each country to join for the activities listed below. Participants include ministry officials from judicial, interior or other relevant ministries and from the office of ombudspersons, journalists and NGO representatives specialized in issues relating to gender or vulnerable populations.
The initial Conference held on the 10th of April 2007, in Budapest, brought together experts from Central Europe, Mali, Morocco and Mongolia, with the aim of discovering and identifying the main challenges in the three target countries as well as the possible lessons learned in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
The conference was followed by a two-day workshop, focusing on administrative mechanisms such as ombudspersons and a site visit to the Office of the Ombudsperson of the Republic of Hungary.
Afterwards, starting on the 11th of June and the 12th of September,
respectively, two five-day workshops were organized, also in Budapest,
to deal with the issues of judicial and electoral mechanisms.
The purpose of the September workshop was the presentation of political mechanisms aimed at increasing the protection of vulnerable groups. Site visits were organized for the participants: a visit in the Hungarian city of Eger to meet with the mayor of the city and Heads of the respective Roma, Greek, Polish and Russian Minority Self-governments and a visit at the Hungarian parliament to organize a meeting with the Head of the Committee for Minority and Human Rights.
The project will be completed with a three-day Final Conference, which will take place in Casablanca, Morocco, by the 6th of November. In cooperation with experts from CEE, participants from Mali, Morocco and Mongolia will not only advance policy recommendations for each country but also will try to elaborate on implementation strategies appropriate to their respective countries.