PASOS supports the development and strengthens the outreach and impact of its 56 members. PASOS builds upon the work undertaken by the Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative (LGI) of the Open Society Institute (OSI) since 1999 to upgrade the institutional capacities of the OSI-related policy centres which operated until 2004 within a collaborative and supportive network known as the Related Centres Network (RCN).


Strategic Directions, 2015-2018

In Strategic Directions 2015-2018, drafted by the PASOS Board in conjunction with the PASOS Secretariat, the PASOS mission to promote and protect democracy, human rights and open society values is reaffirmed.


Strategic Directions, 2010-2014

PASOS, an initiative to strengthen independent think-tanks to ensure the lessons of transition are understood, shared, and applied, set out its values, short-term and medium-term objectives, and strategic approach.

In Strategic Directions, 2010-2014, drafted by the PASOS Board in conjunction with the PASOS Secretariat, the PASOS mission to promote and protect democracy, human rights and open society values is reaffirmed. The text, duly amended and approved by the PASOS members on 8 April 2010, outlines four key priority areas for the association’s projects and activities, namely:

Democracy and Human Rights

  • Development of effective strategies to promote and improve good governance, human rights (including minority rights), democracy and the rule of law
  • Human security, including internal and external migration, the impact of migration, and related challenges at national and international levels
  • Coping with the challenges of transition, ethno-cultural diversity, and conflicts
  • Visa liberalisation and facilitating free movement of people.

Good Governance and Open Economy

  • Transition to an open, free-market economy based on the rule of law
  • Governance and anti-corruption strategies
  • Ethics in government and political parties, accountable and participatory policy-making, and freedom of information.

Sustainable Development

  • Sustainable development, poverty reduction, and social welfare
  • Effective economic policy and political stability in the face of the economic crisis
  • Climate change and energy security.

International Co-operation

  • International and regional co-operation and diplomacy in the areas of economic development, democracy assistance, effective governance, security, and conflict resolution
  • Reform of international and regional governance and co-operation mechanisms
  • Euro-Atlantic integration and EU external relations, in particular EU relations with the eastern neighbourhood, Russia and Central Asia, and the European integration of South-East Europe and Turkey
  • The perspective of new EU member-states in EU policymaking.

The following objectives are set out for the period 2010-2011:

  1. Introducing and Implementing Policy Research and Advocacy Standards
  2. Developing the PASOS Brand
  3. Furthering Institutional Development and Sustainability
  4. Assessing and Addressing the Needs of PASOS Members
  5. Increasing Professional Advocacy Capacity
  6. Publishing Policy Research and Expert Analysis
  7. Engaging in International Projects with Targeted Policy Impact

Two interlinked streams will run through the main activities of PASOS co-ordinated by the Secretariat, namely Services to Members, and Advocacy and Publishing, including forming a concerted “voice” of independent think-tanks on policy challenges and developments crucial to the PASOS region.


In December 2003 members of the RCN decided to formally establish the PASOS association as a means to increase their collaborative effectiveness at regional information sharing, joint project formulation and implementation and internal capacity building. The founding meeting of PASOS took place on June 18, 2004 in Chisinau, Moldova. PASOS was registered under Czech law on September 16, 2004 as a Citizens Association. The headquarters is based in Prague, where the PASOS Executive Director, Jeff Lovitt, set up an office in March 2005.

PASOS members provide policy advice to the region’s decision-makers and international organisations on issues as diverse as human rights, economic development, legal reform, management of governmental reforms, social policy, education, health, religion, international co-operation, small enterprise development, public participation and public sector management.

The international donor community has recognised this expertise and the network has provided input to projects sponsored by the EU, UNDP, DFID, OSI and a host of international foundations and national governments.

The first General Assembly of PASOS was held in Prague on 16-19 December 2004.


PASOS aims to promote and protect democracy, human rights and open society values – including the rule of law, good governance, and economic and social development – by supporting civil society organisations that individually and jointly foster public participation in public policy issues at the European Union level, in other European and global structures, and in the wider neighbourhood of Europe and Central Asia.



1. Background

Networks are increasingly recognised as key democratic instruments for knowledge acquisition and as sources of innovation. They are also heralded as central instruments for policy changes, because policy is often the product of better knowledge and wider citizens’ and civil society commitment.

1.1 The rise of civil society in countries in transition as recognised leader of democratic transformation assistance

Over 15 years, the activities of the Open Society Institute’s network of foundations have achieved a breakthrough in the practical understanding of what democracy is. The rise of non-governmental organisations has changed the landscape of development all over the world. By supporting civil society institutions in societies undergoing transition from communism, the Soros Foundation Network made a crucial contribution to social and economic transformation and inspired other international donors and organisations, policy actors, and national governments. The idea of strong civil society as crucial for democracy has permeated the development discourse. Today, a very large proportion of development projects are being framed in terms of transparency and governance. Public participation is becoming part and parcel of international donors’ efforts and has been reflected positively the public policymaking process.

2. Challenges for the new democracies

The achievement of an objective reveals the next, more complex layer of problems.

  • EU enlargement brought about the division of transition countries into members, those with prospects for membership, and those left out.
  • The participation of civil society in the public policy process (a cornerstone of democracy) is insufficiently addressed in technical assistance programmes in candidate countries, NIS and Western Balkans countries; at the same time traditional donors are withdrawing from the new EU member states.
  • Civil society organisations are not equipped for policy analysis, advocacy and consultations, which are indispensable for creating a rational framework for dealing with competing and conflicting groups of interest.
  • Without a strong indigenous capacity for strategic thinking and policy development, non-structured public debate turns into parallel monologues, with growing mutual dissatisfaction of participants.
  • Overall, having established the role of democracy, it is now essential to equip citizens with the capabilities to make the open society work.

3. Opportunities

Growth of the OSI Network of Public Policy Centres

OSI recognised the need to develop more independent local capacity to analyse and promote policy options, drawing on best international experience but filtered through and drawing on local perspectives and expertise. This development resulted in the investment by a number of programmes and foundations of OSI in the support and creation of independent policy centres. Together, the centres provide the national and international policy community with expertise on issues of human rights, economic development, management of governmental reforms, social policy, education, health, religion, international co-operation, small enterprises development, public participation, European integration and public sector management. The individual network centres have achieved this impact so far through a continuous presence in the political arena with high-quality analytical materials, and through a capacity to organise structured dialogue on domestic and international policy among interest groups.

Seizing the opportunity of the Enlarged EU

  • The key strategies broadly underpinning EU policy are the Lisbon Agenda, the creation of an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, and the development and improvement of the EU’s foreign policy instruments in the context of the EU Security Strategy, ratification of the Constitutional treaty, and the 2007-2013 financial perspective.
  • Increased attention can now be applied to the NIS countries which are struggling with the challenge of building democracies. The EU has moved to the borders of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Moldova, and the countries of the Caucasus, and has vital interests in the neighbouring countries. The New European Neighbourhood policy (ENP) promises to share the benefits of EU enlargement with neighbouring countries in strengthening stability, security and well-being for all concerned. It is designed to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours and to offer them the chance to participate in various EU activities, through greater political, security, economic and cultural co-operation.
  • Relations with the Western Balkans will remain an important priority for the EU. In the “Thessaloniki agenda for the Western Balkans”, the European Commission set out concrete measures for EU/WB countries relations. The Stabilisation and Association Process is defined as the framework of EU policy for the region, as well as the new elements drawn from the recent successful enlargement process.

Changes in the global context affecting Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia (EECCA)

The aftermath of 11 September 2001, and the Afghanistan war, have led to a greater focus on Central Asia. These geo-political changes are of long-term importance and of particular relevance to the EECCA region. As a result, there has been an increased emphasis within the international community on combating terrorism, but also a greater awareness of the need to support democracy in the region.

4. Mission of the Association

PASOS promotes and protects open society values, including democracy, rule of law, good governance, respect for and protection of human rights, economic and social development by supporting entities that individually and jointly foster public participation in public policy issues at the European Union level, in other European structures, and in the wider neighbourhood of Europe and Central Asia.

5. Strategic goals

  • To achieve concerted policy impact in building open society.
  • To promote and support research and analytical capacity of entities formulating public interest policy.
  • To have a continuous say in key issues of international relations, the future of the regions, and social transformation.
  • To assist decision-making processes of public interests by providing information to decision-makers and the general public.
  • To foster co-operation among PASOS members and other entities formulating public interest policy.

6. Objectives

  • To increase the influence of each PASOS member.
  • To raise the quality of products by developing standards.
  • To raise the political and commercial competitiveness of PASOS members.
  • To share experience among PASOS members and provide cross-training.
  • To support policy dialogue between the EU and EECCA partner states, and in particular the implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreements, Partnership and Co-operation Agreements and the (New Neighbourhood) Action Plans, where applicable.

7. PASOS members’ guiding principles

In PASOS overall operations, its members will be guided by the following principles:

  • Authority assured by high-quality research and the capacity to achieve policy impact.
  • Relevance by addressing pressing public policy issues.
  • Transparency and accountability in relation to other PASOS members and towards third parties.
  • Independence enhanced by diverse sources of funding.
  • Co-operation and inclusiveness by engaging in joint activities.
  • Institutional effectiveness and efficiency by exchange of experience and sharing best practices.
  • Pursuing public interest

8. Activities

8.1 Organising conferences, seminars, workshops, joint working groups

PASOS organises annual conference and supports the work of:

A. Capacity building working groups

Advocacy and Policy Campaigns
Financial Management
Human Resources management
Knowledge management
Policy analysis

B. Thematic Working Groups

Economic Policy
Social policy

8.2 Engaging its members in policy advocacy campaigns and actions

Whenever momentum is captured, PASOS and its members can initiate and co-ordinate policy advocacy campaigns and actions in certain areas of concern or of interest to PASOS members.

8.3 Facilitating joint projects and acting as a resource to its members

PASOS will provide special services to its members, such as:

  • provision of access to information of interest to and about PASOS members.
  • representation to international and EU institutions.
  • promotion of policy products of PASOS members.
  • maintenance of database of national and international experts.
  • distribution of publications and training materials of individual PASOS members.
  • provision of assistance in PASOS members’ fundraising efforts.
  • support for PASOS members in joining consortia and build partnerships.
  • interactions with other European and international networks.
  • provision of training to PASOS members in matters of public policy.
  • initiation of comparative policy research under the various PASOS thematic working groups.

8.4 Marketing and disseminating information relevant to PASOS goals, including publishing and representation to third parties

The Association will develop a short and long-term communication and marketing strategy which will aim to campaign for and present the network’s achievements in the international arena. The core promotional and communication tools to be developed will be an official network promotional leaflet, network members’ annual activity report, network official Website, and network Annual report. A special promotional effort will be made for recruiting and orienting new network members.

8.5 Developing appropriate standards for public policy research

PASOS will increase the awareness of its members of the need to adopt commonly accepted standards and evaluation criteria for public policy research and analysis. The transition societies lack the skills to deal with the legitimate policy competition which is indispensable for an effective democratic process.