After the end of the cold war new hopes of a Europe without borders arose. During this period in 1990
human and civil rights organizations gathered in Prague and founded the
Helsinki Citizens´ Assembly (HCA)
The HCA is an international network of human- and civil rights groups and
social movement initiatives from states belonging to the OSCE – a network of 19 sections. Representatives from parties, unions and churches are also involved. The aim is to build up a democratic, just and civil
Europe from below and to communicate across political, ethical and religious barriers and to act together.
How did this develop?
First initiatives for the constitution of the HCA
developed out of the group of dissidents of former Czechoslovakia. Controlling and in addition to the CSCE process of the governments (1) a Helsinki process from below should be constituated. The
keyword of the foundation assembly in Prague was „European integration from below as a project of the civil society.“ The assembly was opened by Vaclav Havel and attended by more than 1000 people.
1)In August 1975 on the basis to accept human and civil rights 35 states committed themselves to a peaceful change of Europe within the Helsinki final act. ( CSCE _ Conference on security and cooperation in
Europe. The CSCE changed its name in 1994 to Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.)
The German HCA section
In 1993 the German section of the Helsinki Citizens´ Assembly was
founded. Founding members came from the new and old federal states, representing a broad political spectrum.
Ingrid Lottenburger, Gülistan Gürbey and Hans- Jochen Selle are the present board members. Beate
Roggenbuck is in charge of the office.
How does HCA function?
HCA works on different levels: there are 19 national sections, working independently, there are regional offices in Georgia and Bosnia as
well as a Youth network.
Presently the French section is coordinating the international HCA.
International projects and activities
Civil conflict resolution and peace politics
The conflict areas Balkan and the Caucasian region have been and still are important focuses of work. HCA works in conjunction with its regional offices in Bosnia and Georgia in close cooperation
with democratic (opposition)- politicians and civil initiatives.
Democracy and Civil rights
Local HCA groups organize projects which concentrate on human rights and minority rights issues. It
is considered to be one of the main tasks to strengthen civil rights and rights of participation concerning the process of shaping a new Europe.
International Youth Network
In order to get
young people interested in civil rights activities the international HCA has founded a special youth network and organizes thematic summer schools for international dialogue
and understanding in different countries.
Lobbying for Roma
In order to react towards the rising tendencies of exclusion and persecution of Roma and Sinti,
the international HCA has developed a project for the social integration of Roma and Sinti.
From the Prague appeal in 1990:
The work of the Asssembly is based on the
commitment towards common values. They should be shaped by the awareness that peace, democracy and hu7man rights directly depend on each other. Our aim is a European unity in diversity.
We want to gain a radically demilitarised and socially just community whose economical development does not happen on the cost of the environment. We aim at a multicultural society which is open for the South.”
Projects of the German section
Everyone who approves the basic
ideas and aims of the appeal, who wants to get engaged for a reconcilable coalescence of Europe and wants to continue working for a democratic and equal living together as active part of the civil society after the
enlargement of the EU is invited to join us to take influence.
Presently the German section focuses on the following issues:
Lobby work against bordercrossing child prostitution and trafficking
Bordercrossing child prostitution in the Czech-German-Polish borderland has raised dramatically. HCA engages for the protection of children and demands appropriate and consequent measures against abuse. We work in
close cooperation with other initiatives caring for the victims but also with authorities and committed politicians. Furthermore HCA is active against the dramatically risen trafficking of East European women.
Civil Peace Service Europeanwide
Civil Peace Service and other means of preventive politics are important instruments of a … peace policy. The working group wants to promote Civil Peace
Service within the HCA network as an effective instrument of an all- European peace order.
Czech – German Reconciliation
In the context of the conference: “Czech and German women in the
process of reconciliation” the Czech-German Womens´ Forum was founded from women of all ages coming from both countries. Thus a clear sign for the continuation of the civil dialogue and for a concrete cooperation in
times of tensions on the state level was set. The Forum is open for all women willing to engage themselves for the promotion and deepening of the Czech – German relations. The activities include the exchange
of information, conferences and projects and are conducted in cooperation with the Czech- German Womens´ Forum.
Are you interested in becoming a member?
The regular annual fee is 120 €,
for people with a lower income 60 € and for students and jobless persons 30 €.
„The aim of an all- European integration has to be supported by a wide public audience. The Helsinki process is too important to leave it alone to the governments and politicians who are bound to their national
priorities. This process needs to be strengthened and deepened by including citizens from all signature states of the CSCE.”
(From the Prague funding appeal from 1990)