The Central Eurasia Project, a regional initiative of the Open Society Foundations, aims to promote social progress and human rights in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and Mongolia by developing programs and international campaigns that use policy research and advocacy to shape debates on significant economic, political, social, and security challenges facing the region. Through its grantmaking and operational activities, the Central Eurasia Project supports local NGOs that implement programs and pursue dialogue with governments on issues such as democratic governance, respect for human rights and rule of law, and transparency and accountability.
As a regional initiative, the Central Eurasia Project supports programming that engages partners in multiple countries across the region. In addition, the Central Eurasia Project manages Open Society Foundations activities related to the countries in the region without local foundations, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Recent Central Eurasia Project activities have sought to combat declining media freedom through diplomatic efforts and assistance programs that promote reform; challenge growing repression against human rights and democracy activists in Central Asia and South Caucasus; push for greater tolerance of religious freedom; and create approaches for dealing with nontraditional and often nonsecular civil society groups.
Ongoing initiatives focus on partnering with human rights groups to protect the rights of labor migrants and promoting approaches that stress the mutual dependence between Russia and the region created by the use of migrant labor. In cooperation with local civil society groups, the project has helped improve the transparency, accountability, and management of natural resource revenues and the electric power sector.
The project has responded to natural disasters and to military conflict in places such as Georgia by working to galvanize international responses, support credible media coverage, protect human rights, provide humanitarian aid, and ensure transparency in the use of relief funds. Working with European donors, the project continues to strengthen relations between the European Union and Central Asian countries by supporting initiatives that bring local and international scholars and experts together to provide EU institutions with policy ideas and advice about Central Asia.
EurasiaNet is a website operated by the Central Eurasia Project that provides information and analysis about political, economic, environmental and social developments in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as in Russia, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia. The website also offers additional features, including newsmaker interviews, book reviews and a discussion forum.
Based in New York and updated daily, EurasiaNet advocates open and informed discussion of issues that concern countries in the region. The website presents a variety of perspectives on contemporary developments, utilizing a network of correspondents based both in the West and in the region. The aim of EurasiaNet is to promote informed decision-making among policy makers, as well as broadening interest in the region among the general public.
The Central Eurasia Project uses grantmaking to international and regional NGOs, academic institutions, think tanks and other structures to support their work, help build local capacity, bring international expertise to bear on the region and promote cooperation between local activists and international civic movements. The ultimate goal of such activity is to strengthen civic leaders in the region and to construct support networks for them within international structures and movements. The project’s grantmaking generally dovetails with its research and advocacy agenda.
The Central Eurasia Project focuses its grantmaking in the following areas:
The Central Eurasia Project is committed to societal and political integration of marginalized groups in the region. show more The project supports operations of human rights organizations that protect and promote fundamental political and civil rights, including but not limited to: individual physical security and safety; protection from discrimination; rule of law; access to information; freedom of assembly, speech and political participation.
The Central Eurasia Project also funds activities aimed at building capacity within local human rights organizations to professionalize their work in terms of needs analysis, reporting of human rights abuses, and media contacts and campaigning. The Central Eurasia Project also makes funds available for work on human rights issues beyond civil and political rights defense, such as social and economic rights.
Labor migration remains one of the most pressing social and economic issues in the former Soviet Union. show more The Central Eurasia Project works to address widespread mistreatment of labor migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus on a strategic level to achieve an improved management of rights violations in receiving countries and to mitigate negative impacts of labor migration on the societies in sending countries.In countries that primarily host labor migrants, the Central Eurasia Project funds organizations, think tanks, academic institutions and other structures that work on legal, policy, advocacy, watchdog and research issues. In receiving countries, the Central Eurasia Project funds projects that conduct targeted research and advocacy on a policy level and provide social, legal and informational assistance to migrant workers in need. The Central Eurasia Project also funds targeted advocacy projects that promote regional cooperation and issue management in sending countries.
Transparency and Consumer Protection
Poor electricity and hydropower governance has seriously affected the lives of citizens in Central Asia. show more In recent years, the prevalence of electricity cuts and blackouts in upstream countries has highlighted the shortcomings of relevant institutions and the authorities that manage energy delivery in the region. The core of these shortcomings centers on the lack of transparency accountability in public utilities. Processes involving generation of electricity and its distribution as well as investments in and revenues created by the sector should be open to public review.
The Central Eurasia Project funds research that sheds light on the formal and informal set-up of the energy sector primarily in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but also in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Pakistan. It also funds networking activities such as conferences, study visits and roundtables between researchers, practitioners, politicians and other stakeholders from the US, the EU and Central Asia.
On an operational level, the project provides resources to support organizations that work to enhance electricity and hydropower governance in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Mongolia within the framework of the Electricity Governance Initiative, a network of national groups located in South-East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Africa and South America that seeks to promote better governance in the electricity sector.
Transparency of Western Military and Security Cooperation
Central Asia has emerged as a priority on the map of security interests of Western governments. show more Security cooperation has included working together with local security services in the War against Terror, as well as on efforts to reform law enforcement agencies and strengthen civil oversight over the security sector in the region. More recently, greater strategic priority has been placed on Central Asia as a transit region for military supply destined for U.S. and ISAF troops in Afghanistan. These trends have led to a substantial increase of Western military and security cooperation with Central Asian governments. Such cooperation faces significant challenges and runs a high risk of contributing to destabilizing political trends in the region.
The Central Eurasia Project provides funding for projects that increase the transparency of Western military and security cooperation by monitoring pertinent developments and trends, particularly those that impact wider foreign policy agendas of Western countries towards Central Asia. We are interested in proposals for projects that provide analysis and reporting on Western military and security cooperation’s impacts on human rights performance, democratic governance, opportunities and incentives for corruption, lack of budget transparency and distortions in terms of democratic oversight over military and security actors in the region. Think tanks, academic institutions, independent news providers and watchdog organizations are eligible for funding.
In a response to the worsening situation for civil society in Turkmenistan, the Open Society Foundations launched the Turkmenistan Project in November 2002. show more A branch of the Central Eurasia Project, the Turkmenistan Project builds on the work the Foundations have conducted since the 1990s to promote civil society in Turkmenistan, a closed and repressive country in Central Asia that was part of the former Soviet Union. That work has included grantmaking and programmatic activities in areas as far-ranging as arts and culture, access to information, and public health.
The Turkmenistan Project adds resources to ongoing work and a strategic purpose to the Open Society Foundations' traditional activities by working on the policy level—with intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, and donors—and galvanizing demand for reform by raising awareness of civil society concerns more broadly through information outreach. The Turkmenistan Project focuses on three principal areas of activity: promoting grantmaking to civic actors in Turkmenistan and abroad and broadens opportunities for Turkmen citizens to study and integrate more fully into international development and civil society initiatives; providing fuller information about the situation inside the country through independent research and media outreach, including publication of the Turkmenistan News Brief, available via email in English and Russian (to subscribe, please email email@example.com); promoting government accountability and good governance through policy work, media outreach, and targeted advocacy.
The Uzbekistan program of the Central Eurasia Project principally addresses human rights and rule of law issues. show more Funding is available for projects focusing on the following themes: implementation and enforcement of constitutional norms and international commitments of Uzbekistan in the field of human rights; freedom of expression and press; child and forced labor; farmer and labor rights; minority rights; transparency and accountability of international assistance to Uzbekistan; rule of law and equal access to justice as a precondition for business, economic, social, and human development. Special attention is given to research, documentation, monitoring, and reporting to UN mechanisms on human rights.