Open Society Institute

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The Open Society Institute in New York, a 501(c)(3) organization, and international offices of the Open Society Institute, such as the one in Budapest, "provide administrative, financial, and technical support to the Soros foundations and also operate OSI initiatives, which address specific issues on a regional or network-wide basis, and other independent programs. OSI in New York is also the home of a series of programs that focus principally on the United States. At OSI-Brussels and OSI-Paris, much of the work involves establishing partnerships with other international donor organizations and government aid programs."[1]

"In the U.S. capital, the OSI Washington Office engages in public education on a range of domestic and international issues, including criminal and civil justice reform, women's rights, U.S. policy in Colombia, and Central Eurasia. The Open Society Policy Center, a separate organization that is incorporated as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, undertakes lobbying efforts on these and other public policy issues."[2]

What Is an "Open Society"?

According to OSI, the term open society was first proposed by French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) in his book The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932), and developed further by the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper (1902-1994) in his 1945 book Open Society and Its Enemies.[3][4]

In his January 1998 article, "Toward a Global Open Society" published in The Atlantic magazine, George Soros writes:

"We do live in a global economy. But it is important to be clear about what we mean by that. A global economy is characterized not only by the free movement of goods and services but, more important, by the free movement of ideas and of capital. This applies to direct investments and to financial transactions. Though both have been gaining in importance since the end of the Second World War, the globalization of financial markets in particular has accelerated in recent years to the point where movements in exchange rates, interest rates, and stock prices in various countries are intimately interconnected. In this respect the character of the financial markets has changed out of all recognition during the forty years that I have been involved in them. So the global economy should really be thought of as the global capitalist system."
"Global integration has brought tremendous benefits: the benefits of the international division of labor ... But global capitalism is not without its problems, and we need to understand these better if we want the system to survive. By focusing on the problems I'm not trying to belittle the benefits that globalization has brought ... The benefits of the present global capitalist system, I believe, can be sustained only by deliberate and persistent efforts to correct and contain the system's deficiencies. That is where I am at loggerheads with laissez-faire ideology, which contends that free markets are self-sustaining and market excesses will correct themselves, provided that governments or regulators don't interfere with the self-correcting mechanism."
"Our global society contains many different customs, traditions, and religions; where can it find the shared values that would hold it together?"
"WHAT is the open society? ... The principles of the open society are admirably put forth in the Declaration of Independence. But the Declaration states, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident,' whereas the principles of the open society are anything but self-evident; they need to be established by convincing arguments."

About the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network

"The Soros foundations network includes Soros foundations that operate in individual countries or regions; the Open Society Institute (OSI) and its offices; OSI initiatives supporting the work of the Soros foundations; and U.S. Programs, which are initiatives that operate in the United States only. Our foundations and initiatives operate in more than 50 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, Asia, and the Americas."[5]
"The goal of the Soros foundations network throughout the world is to transform closed societies into open ones and to protect and expand the values of existing open societies. The concept of open society is, at its most fundamental level, based on the recognition that people act on imperfect knowledge and that no one is in possession of the ultimate truth. In practice, an open society is characterized by the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and minority opinions; democratically elected governments; a market economy in which business and government are separate; and a thriving civil society."[6]
"In pursuit of the Soros foundation network's mission, OSI and the foundations established and supported by George Soros seek to strengthen open society principles and practices against authoritarian regimes and the negative consequences of globalization. The Soros network supports efforts in civil society, education, media, public health, and human and women's rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform."[7]
"During most of the 1990s, the Soros foundations network developed in the former Soviet empire, helping countries in transition from authoritarian rule build open, democratic societies. Over the past several years, we have expanded our geographical horizons to other parts of the world. Together with partners that share our principles and goals, the network is laying the foundation for a truly global alliance for open society."[8]
"The goal of the Agency (CIA) was exactly the same as that of the Open Society Fund: to dismantle socialism. In South Africa, the CIA sought out dissidents who were anticommunist. In Hungary, Poland and the USSR, the CIA, with overt intervention from the National Endowment for Democracy, the AFL-CIO, USAID and other institutions, supported and organized anticommunists, the very type of individuals recruited by Soros' Open Society Fund. The CIA would have called them "assets." As Soros said, "In each country I identified a group of people - some leading personalities, others less well known - who share my belief..." Soros' Open Society organized conferences with anticommunist Czechs, Serbs, Romanians, Hungarians, Croatians, Bosnians, Kosovars. His ever-expanding influence gave rise to suspicions that he was operating as part of the U.S. intelligence complex. In 1989, the Washington Post reported charges first made in 1987 by the Chinese government officials that Soros' Fund for the Reform and Opening of China had CIA connections." [9]

Soros Foundations

"The Soros foundations are autonomous institutions established in particular countries or regions to initiate and support open society activities. The priorities and specific activities of each Soros foundation are determined by a local board of directors and staff in consultation with George Soros and OSI boards and advisors. In addition to support from the Open Society Institute, many of the foundations receive funding from other sources."

"The Soros foundations consist of national foundations in 29 countries, foundations in Kosovo and Montenegro, and two regional foundations, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. The two regional foundations, which are governed by their own boards of directors and staffs from the region, make grants in 27 African countries. All of the foundations share the common goal of transforming closed societies into open ones and protecting and expanding the values of existing open societies."

OSI Initiatives

"The Open Society Institute's initiatives address specific issue areas on a regional or network-wide basis around the world. Most of the initiatives are administered by OSI in New York or OSI-Budapest and implemented in cooperation with Soros foundations in various countries."[10]

"The nearly 20 OSI initiatives cover a range of activities aimed at building free and open societies, including the strengthening of civil society; economic reform; education at all levels; human rights; legal reform and public administration; media and communications; public health; and arts and culture. OSI in New York also operates special initiatives such as the Central Eurasia Project, the Burma Project/Southeast Asia Initiative, and the European Union Accession Monitoring Program."[11]

  • Iraq Revenue Watch
  • TOL the former Transitions magazine and the Central European Review (CER), now transformed in to web-only media.

U.S. Programs

"The Open Society Institute's U.S. Programs support initiatives in a range of social areas, including access to justice for low- and moderate-income people; independence of the judiciary; ending the death penalty; reducing gun violence and over-reliance on incarceration; drug policy reform; inner-city education and youth programs; reproductive health and choice; campaign finance reform; and improved care of the dying."[12]

Directors and Personnel

Management Committee [1]

Other Staff

  • Kavita N. Ramdas is director of the Open Society Foundations’ Women’s Rights Program
  • Nicole Wilett is chief of staff at the Open Society Foundations

Global board [2]

Former Directors and Personnel

Trustees (U.S. Committee)

2005 Annual Report

OSI: Board of Trustees, Advisory Boards, and Committees (Listing as of May 1, 2002)


400 West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 548 0600 or (212) 757 2323
Fax: (212) 548 4679 or (212) 548 4600

Related Media Projects

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

  • Leadership, Open Society Institute, accessed January 20, 2021.
  • Global board, Open Society Institute, accessed January 20, 2021.