Definitions

Open Society Institute

Open Society Institute

The Open Society Institute (OSI), a private operating and grantmaking foundation, aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses.

One of the aims of the OSI is the development of civil society organisations (e.g., charities, community groups and trade unions) to encouraging participation in democracy and society.

History

OSI was created in 1993 by investor George Soros to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. OSI has expanded the activities of the Soros Foundations network to other areas of the world where the transition to democracy is of particular concern. The Soros foundations network encompasses more than 60 countries, including the United States. Controversial OSI projects included the Lindesmith Center and others dealing with drug reform.

Initiatives

Related initiatives include the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). Recent efforts have included those that have met with controversy, including an effort in East Africa aimed at spreading human rights awareness among prostitutes in Uganda and other East African nations, which was not received well by the Ugandan authorities, who considered it an effort to legalize and legitimize prostitution.

References

Further reading

Thomas Carothers (1999) Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve, Washington DC., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999.

Nicolas Guilhot, ‘Reforming the World: George Soros, ‘Global capitalism and the philanthropic management of the social sciences’, Critical Sociology, 2007.

Andrea Krizsán and Viola Zentai (eds) Reshaping Globalization: Multilateral Dialogues and New Policy Initiatives, Budapest, Central European University Press, 2003.

Thomas Palley, ‘The Open Institute and Global Social Policy’, Global Social Policy, 3(1) 2003: 17-18.

Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, Albany, SUNY, 2003.

Diane Stone, “Market Principles, Philanthropic Ideals and Public Service Values: The Public Policy Program at the Central European University”, PS: Political Science and Politics, July 2007: 545—551

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