International Centre for Democratic Transition

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The International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT) is a non-profit organization based in Budapest, Hungary which collects the experiences of past democratic transitions and shares them with those who are determined to follow that path. Instead of promoting democracy in general, the ICDT sets more concrete and pragmatic goals, concentrating on democratic transition as a process. The Centre strives to show how dozens of young democracies have made and are making the transition, so that those who set off on this difficult journey from dictatorship to democracy in the future may learn from the successes as well as the failures.

Mission Statement

Because the International Centre for Democratic Transition was founded in Central Europe, we are acutely aware of the complexity of democratic transition as a process. We ourselves have recently undergone this process and know full well the fragility of new democracies. We firmly believe that a transition can only be judged to be successful when the benefits of democracy are shared by the whole of society. The ICDT’s mission is to facilitate the smooth and peaceful process of democratic transition on the basis of participatory principles; the political, economic, legal, cultural, and civil societal aspects of transformation; and the socio-cultural context of regions and countries where the process takes place.


The idea to establish an institute to collect and share the experiences of past democratic transitions originated from former US Ambassador Mark Palmer, Vice President of the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD). His proposal was followed by a meeting between the Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and the US Secretary of State in June 2004. At a conference in Budapest in March 2005 civil society and governmental leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the USA, as well as representatives of a number of international organizations approved the concept paper on the new Centre. Subsequently, the idea was presented by the Hungarian Foreign Minister at the Third Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Santiago de Chile. Once again, the idea was well received and endorsed by the participating Foreign Ministers, representing more than 100 democratic governments of the world. Finally, in September 2005, the Hungarian president announced at the World Summit of the United Nations that “an International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT) has been set up in Budapest.”

Operational Method


  • Facilitates the process of democratic transition by using the knowledge pool of transitional experiences and by sharing best practices
  • Convenes the most important indigenous stakeholders to play key roles in the transition process
  • Provides an adaptable toolbox and appropriate models for the creation and consolidation of democratic institutions,<br
  • between cultures and regions by generating dialogue.

Key Achievements

Program Areas


Interregional Cooperation
Promoting interregional cooperation between governments and civil societies of neighboring countries to enable democratic transition and to ensure regional stability.
Toolbox for Democracy
Providing technical assistance and learning opportunities to new and fragile democracies, concentrating on particular and practical elements of democracy such as elections and freedom of speech.
Sustainable Democracy
Strengthening the involvement of marginalized groups such as minorities, women and other unprotected social groups in both the transition process and the functioning of democracy.

International Board

The International Board of Directors of the Centre consists of prominent personalities from the areas of international politics, economics, the arts and the sciences.


  • H.E. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Vice-President of the European Parliament, former Minister of Defense, Poland


Honorary Members

  • H.E. Michel Barnier, Minister of Agriculture, President, Nouvelle République, France
  • The Hon. Judge Alexander Boraine, formerly Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa
  • H.E. Nancy Brinker, White House Chief of Protocol, former Ambassador of the United States of America to Budapest, USA
  • H.E. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President, Estonia
  • Mr. George Soros, Chairperson of Soros Fund Management, LLC and Founder of The Open Society Institute, USA

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee of the ICDT consists of five internationally recognized figures from the scientific and public arenas, elected for a term of three years by the International Board.


  • Mrs. Sonja Licht, President and Founder of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence


Governmental Advisory Board

The members of the GAB represent their governments. This body serves as an organized form of communication with the democratic governments of the world. So far over 40 democracies have delegated a representative to the ICDT’s Governmental Advisory Board, which advises and appraises the work of the Centre and makes proposals for specific projects.


International Center for Democratic Transition (ICDT)
Árvácska u. 12.
1022 Budapest, Hungary
Phone: +36 (1) 438-0820
Fax: +36 (1) 438-0821
E-mail: info AT

External Links

  • ICDT Homepage: [1]
  • ICDT - The Movie: [2]
  • ICDT Brochure 2008: [3]

ICDT Publications

  • Minorities in Transition in South, Central, and Eastern Europe - ICDT Papers No.1.: [4]
  • Democratic Change and Gender: The 'Foremother Exercise' [5]
  • A European Alternative for Belarus - Report of the Belarus Task Force [6]; in Russian: [7]; in Belarusian: [8]

ICDT Newsletters

  • ICDT Newsletter April 2008: [9]
  • ICDT Newsletter June 2008: [10]
  • ICDT Newsletter September 2008: [11]
  • ICDT Newsletter December 2008: [12]
  • ICDT Newsletter February 2009: [13]