Grants for democracy projects
Social inclusion, human rights and civil political participation are best ensured by engaging and promoting an active civil society. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway support close to 500 NGO projects promoting democracy building, protection of human rights and anti-discrimination initiatives.
Through influencing public policy and initiating public debate, engaging in advocacy, maintaining watchdog activities and providing social services, more than 1860 NGO projects across Europe have benefited from the EEA and Norway Grants NGO fund support.
The funding provides an opportunity to promote the development of civil society and enhance its contribution to building more transparent and sustainable societies. The NGO projects are among the more than 3400 projects that are supported under the many funds and programmes operated at national level in the beneficiary states.
Reporting attacks on free speech
In Poland, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights monitors and protects the freedom of media supported through one of the NGO funds of the EEA and Norway Grants. Through the reporting of 16 local correspondents, the project 'Observatory of the freedom of media' keeps track of attacks on free speech or breaches on media freedom all over Poland
In the first quarter of 2010 the foundation observed and provided legal aid for journalists in 17 legal cases pending before the national courts and the European Court of Human Rights. The Observatory also publishes monthly newsletters and organises debates on current issues relating to freedom of expression in Poland. "Our conferences attract journalists, academics, law and journalism students, and we have around 100 participants per conference", says Programme Manager Dominika Bychawska at the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
Transferring best practices
Through its membership of the Human Rights House Network and cooperation with the Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) in Oslo, Norway, and the human rights organisation Article 19, the Observatory is taking part in the development of a new joint project – 'Observatory of Media Freedom in South Caucasus', which aims to transfer best practices from Poland to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. "The expertise being built in Poland is also of benefit for other countries", underlines Ane Tusvik Bonde of HRHF in Oslo.
In addition, some 200 NGO projects focus on strengthening the participation of disadvantaged groups, such as ethnic minorities, immigrants and disabled people, in society and politics.
Photo: The Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.