About the project

The experience of Central and Eastern European countries that underwent transition in recent decades shows that facing the questions of the past, in particular addressing the legitimacy and legality of the former regime and remembering its crimes and their perpetrators, is crucial to the democratization of any society. To avoid “repeating of own past”, taking a clear stance towards both the victims and the culprits and embedding this stance into the legal system, education and society’s memory is a necessary task for every transiting nation and may not be underestimated.

The current project, which is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and was launched at the beginning of October 2016, wants to make the democratic transition experience of selected countries available in an organized and systematic manner. The primary objective of the project is to produce a practical guide chronicling the democratic transition experience of the selected countries to help reformers, who are in charge of democratization processes in their home countries, to deal with issues involving security services during transition. Secondly, the project aims at creating a database of international experts, authors of the Guide, who are willing to provide guidance to new democracies with navigating delicate issues concerning dismantling the state security apparatuses and preservation of national memory.

It is clear that transitional experience of one nation cannot be copy-pasted to another country. However, it is possible to find inspiration or on the contrary, to learn from mistakes made by others in order not to repeat them. Thus, it is important to have in mind various experience of other countries when choosing the best practices for one´s own transition and to be informed about past setbacks and problems encountered in order to avoid them.

Who is the target group?

The primary target group of the project are potential reformers using political and civic activities to promote democracy, human rights and rule of law in their transitioning home countries and

  • Opposition leaders
  • Youth leaders
  • Human rights activists
  • Politically active emigrants
  • NGOs supporting democracy worldwide
  • Universities offering courses on the project-related democratic transition topic
  • And everyone who is interested in democracy, seeks freedom, rule of law and human rights

What are the countries covered in the Guide?

In the first year of the project, experience of six Central and Eastern European countries and Egypt as an example of the Arab Spring country have been captured in the Guide:

  • Czech Republic
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia

In October 2017, CEVRO started a follow-up project where one of the major objectives was to expand the Guide about democratic transition experience of three more countries. To make the Guide as universal as possible, it was decided that the new case studies should primarily focus on non-European countries, especially countries in Latin America and Asia. Moreover, not only transition from communist regime to democracy, but also a transition from other non-democratic regimes should have been covered. Finally, the three case studies were published in December 2018:

  • Argentina
  • Cambodia
  • Georgia

This year, CEVRO is adding three more case studies which will be published by the end of 2019:

  • Chile
  • South Africa
  • Spain

Authors are experts who have experience either as active actors of transition in their respective countries and/or are involved in analyzing and describing achievements of the transition in various fields that are included in the Guide. Through engaging new experts into the project, the database of experts willing to provide assistance in Guide-related issues is still expanding.

Transition Academy

Within the project, workshops and seminars on the topic of democratic transition are provided to civil society leaders from all around the world. The seminars are conducted by authors of the Guide.  

Download the Democracy Guide