The socio-political situation on the European continent has reached a critical phase: Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe are under serious threat, and in Western Europe populism and nationalism are also challenging the concept of a multi-national approach to cooperation as the basis of peace and prosperity in the region. Further, the COVID-19 crisis has created a new reality on the ground which has exacerbated this ongoing negative shift. Issues previously seen as more subtle and addressable in the long term— e.g. the nature of the political union or fundamental freedoms in society— have become prominent and urgently need to be resolved. In particular the challenges to European unity and civil rights are intense. How much damage has been done? What is the effect of this damage? Can it be repaired? If so, how?
This partnership and program has been developed between the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development (ASRC) based at the Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania. The goal is to undertake a five-year educational and public outreach program leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Accords. Focusing on creating new intergenerational links, this program will hone in on exploring the past to provide clues for developing innovative solutions to three contemporary themes: Digital Space; Environmental Challenges; and Equality and Identity.
Reviving the Helsinki Spirit aims to change the agenda for Europe. Its mission is to bring the values and principles of the Helsinki Accords back to the forefront of society and politics so we all live in countries based on respect for human rights, national sovereignty, and the non-violent resolution of inter-state conflicts. Such an agenda would connect generations by examining the threats of the past and seeing how solutions the could be applied to the problems we face today.
The ultimate aim is to vigorously participate in informing selected stakeholders in civil society – particularly potential young “change makers” organized in non profit organizations, university students, and policy makers. These stakeholders will help devise a new agenda, which will complement the OSCE and other institutional activities are already engaged in supporting the Helsinki vision, and they will develop a road map demonstrating how to activate civil society with respect to the key issues in which the program is focused.
Reviving the Helsinki Spirit
Central coordination office
Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development
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