Speakers: Gabriela Dlouhá, David French and Tomáš Pojar
Chair: Andrew Puddephatt, Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
The Czech government, after learning about current practice abroad including the British model decided to set up a department at the Czech Foreign Ministry (MFA) in June 2004 to promote human rights and democracy in countries in transition. This is intended as the first step towards an independent agency similar to the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. The department's programmes and activities follow official foreign policy of the Czech government - including supporting the opposition's activities in Cuba, Belarussia, Burma and North Korea - and support independent organisations in their related aims. The department's work reflects the fact that, 13 years after democracy returned to the Czech Republic, the country is now the biggest humanitarian aid donor of all post-communist countries.
People in Need (PINF) has been always in forefront of humanitarian aid, human rights and civil society issues, and has initiated many programmes and campaigns, and consulted the Czech government frequently on these issues.
The seminar - which involves leaders of People in Need, the Czech MFA's new department and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy - will consider the MFA department's focus on countries in transition, emerging democracies and human rights affairs. It will examine the relationship between the new department and People in Need and other NGOs, and consider how joint projects contribute to the development of transition nations. Speakers will compare the current situation in the Czech Republic with the British model, using human rights programmes as a case study.
Gabriela Dlouhá heads the TRANS Unit at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. David French is Chief Executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Tomáš Pojar is Director of People in Need.