The Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (CDDHR) is a Russian independent non-governmental organization.
CDDHR’s mission is the development of effective democratic institutions and the creation of sustainable mechanisms for human rights protection in Russia by influencing public policy in these areas, creating conditions for civic participation in decision making from local communities to the international level and empowering individuals and groups to play a more influential role in the communities they belong to. We strive to make democracy work for people living in Russia and to assist them in finding in democracy a practical meaning relevant for their lives.
To accomplish this goal the Center works not only influencing decision-making and promoting values and ideas but also on a practical level in various communities as well, such as providing a number of activities and services focused on individuals, community groups and grassroots initiatives.
CDDHR is now one of the leading non-governmental organizations in Russia that provides professional expertise in public policy issues, runs professional full-scale public advocacy campaigns, provides essential training, consulting and information services to civil society organizations and community groups and effectively combines a broad range of advocacy, educational, consulting and analytical instruments in order to sustain the building of democratic institutions, a stable civil society, and the promotion of human rights.
CDDHR was created in 1998 as an independent non-profit non-governmental organization. The Center is run by a Board of Directors and the Center’s President, an expert with more than twenty years of experience in the field of civil society development and human rights work. Members of the Board of Directors include Ludmila Alexeeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Manana Aslamazian of Internews-Russia, Andrei Blinushov of Memorial (Ryazan), Valentin Gefter of the Institute of Human Rights, Alexey Simonov of Glasnost Defense Foundation, Natalia Taubina of the Public Verdict Foundation, Elena Topoleva of the Agency for Social Informationm, Tatiana Vorozheikina of Moscow school of Social and Economic Studies, and Yuri Dzhibladze (ex officio).
CDDHR has gained an important position in the civil sector of Russia, enjoys respect among experts, Russian public officials, the media and the international community and has come to represent the essential interests of Russian NGOs and the public vis-a-vis the public authorities. The Center cooperates regularly with official human rights institutions such as the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Russia and the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society. It has successfully collaborated with inter-governmental organizations including the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Center cooperates successfully with many Russian and foreign NGOs, including the Foundation for Civil Society, “Demos” Center, “Public Verdict” Foundation, Memorial Society and Human Rights Center, Moscow Helsinki Group, Institute for Human Rights, Sova Research Center, JURIX, Agency for Social Information, Socio-Ecological Union, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Justice and others.
The work of the organization is mainly supported by grants as well as contractual and voluntary activity. In eight years of the organization’s existence the Center has successfully carried out more than 50 projects with the support of donors such as the C.S. Mott Foundation, Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute-Soros Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, TACIS, DFID and the Henry Jackson Foundation.
The Center acts as a promoter of the interests of the NGO community, human rights and civic democracy. For implementation of its mission in 2004-2006 the Center has pursued activities and projects in 7 program areas including the following:
(1) the promotion of increasing transparency in the legislative process through parliamentary review;
(2) advocating for the reform of NGO taxation and NGO legislation;
(3) combating racism, discrimination and xenophobia, promoting tolerance (including work on the problem of hate speech and development of a course on diversity coverage);
(4) advocating for a human rights-based alternative civil service for conscientious objectors; advocating for military reform;
(5) internal cooperation regarding the promotion of democracy;
(6) international cooperation regarding the promotion of democracy;
(7) public activities promoting democracy, civil society, government-NGO dialogues and human rights.
CDDHR has eight years of experience in the area of advocacy and public policy decision making, offering a professional approach and advice in these fields, having fulfilled more than 50 projects.
CDDHR covers a diverse range of issues and activities (including democracy promotion, civil society development and human rights protection; delivering training seminars and implementing its own advocacy campaigns and providing educational programs and expertise).
CDDHR covers an exceptionally wide geographical area of its activities (CDDHR partner NGOs and alumni of its training programs work in more than 60 regions; almost all CDDHR’s projects are run in partnership with other NGOs acting in most regions of Russia).
CDDHR was the first organization in Russia that successfully adapted international advocacy campaigns concepts to Russia, has achieved a lot for the development of the mechanisms of democracy in Russia and continues to share this experience with other NGOs.
CDDHR always bases its activities on the needs of NGOs and grassroots initiatives, being flexible enough to adapt its work according to these needs.
CDDHR is actively involved in negotiations with public authorities on a wide range of topics related to issues within the civil society issues, NGO work, the promotion of human rights and democracy.
CDDHR has vast experience in working in a multicultural setting; its impact on democracy is widely recognized on an international level. The Center has developed a high capacity for international work, interaction with the UN and the Council of Europe.
CDDHR has an experienced and highly motivated staff who are trained in the best educational institutions in Russia, the USA, and Germany; the staff regularly participate in advanced educational programs in different countries and at home.