The Human Rights and Governance Grants Program (HRGGP) is the principal grantmaking body of the Open Society Foundations focusing on human rights, accountability, and rule of law promotion in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Mongolia. Recognizing the crucial role civil society can play in providing a check on government abuse, the program strives to ensure a vibrant and dynamic NGO community in the region that is able to serve that function. Overseen by the Foundations’ Sub-board for Law and Human Rights, the program supports national and international advocacy organizations at the local, national and regional level.
Support provided by HRGGP aims to narrow the gap between states' expansive rhetorical and legal commitments to promoting human rights and combating corruption, and a reality that is often in stark contrast. The only means of testing a state's actual level of commitment is through independent monitoring to point out the discrepancies between rhetoric and reality, and bring them to the public's attention.
When governments fail to uphold their legal obligations, victims of rights abuses must be able to seek justice. Where corruption occurs, those violating the law should be held accountable. To promote these activities, the program provides direct support to watchdog advocacy NGOs that seek to hold governments accountable through first-hand monitoring and documentation, public interest strategic litigation, and domestic and international advocacy.
As well as providing support to NGOs, HRGGP takes an active role in:
- identifying projects;
- assisting supported organizations in their growth and institutionalization;
- building networks among these groups;
- developing partnerships with other donors in these fields.
HRGGP also partners with the Soros foundations network and other Open Society programs to advance its priorities, develop new projects, and build networks among human rights and legal advocacy groups. An emerging priority for HRGGP is to work with its partner organizations to develop effective communication strategies—an increasing necessity in the post-9/11 era, in order to counteract the false dichotomy posed between human rights and national security.
The Human Rights and Governance Grants Program previously supported institutions providing expertise to governments and contributing to national policy debates on a wide variety of economic and political issues, with the goal of promoting effective and accountable governance. This activity is now managed through a separate Open Society Foundations program, the Think Tank Fund.