EPF Armenia – for social justice and human rights

Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following our interview mit
EPF Armenia, working for social
justice and economic prosperity in Armenia. An important aspect of its work
with the civil society is also the effort for a normalization with Turkey and
human rights. 
was Eurasia Partnership Foundation fouded and with what aims?
Partnership Foundation (EPF)
 became a local foundation in
2007. EPF is the successor of Eurasia Foundation, DC. Its mission
statement is ‘to empower people to effect change for social justice and
economic prosperity through hands-on programs, helping them to improve their
communities and their own lives’. EPF has developed a
unique package of activities defining the Foundation as a think
and do thank
, which develops and implements strategies, unites networks and
consortia, works on civil society capacity building, policy research and advocacy,
creates alternative content, implements grant-making, organizes peace-building
processes, as well as supports the state in development of the state policy on
human rights. 
what does the capacity of strengthening services of the CSO Development Program
consist of?
The “CSO
Development Program
” is a consortium project implemented by EPF with
five other local partner CSOs through USAID support. Its aim is to foster
sustainable civil society development through strengthening the capacity of
CSOs.  The project is called “DePo” as an opportunity for
organizations to repair, modernize, upgrade their systems and structures for
better implementation of their missions.
a part of DePo, EPF organizes CSO
Management Schools
 for local organizations. The Schools are
interactive and experience-sharing space for CSOs coming to learn about the
importance of organizational systems and structures, policies and
procedures, fundraising and financial management, program management and
communications, and other practices which increase the chances for CSO sustainability. 
has developed an Organizational
Development Tool
 which assesses the six basic structures and
systems of CSOs and consults on the ways to improve these. A CSO DePo  portal
has been established, which
provides essential resources to CSOs: information about grant announcements,
news, training announcements, expert and service providers’ contacts,
networking and visibility opportunities. 
do you support the Armenia-Turkey normalization process?
in collaboration with 7 other civil society organizations from Armenia and
Turkey implements a project “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization
Process 2” (ATNP
with the financial assistance of the European Union. The current stage of the
project builds upon the achievements of the activities implemented between
2014-2015. The objective of the project is to empower and engage civil
societies of Turkey and Armenia to contribute to the enhanced regional peace
and stability, democratic pluralism and social inclusion across and within
their societies. This will be achieved through engaging new actors in economic,
cultural, educational, and awareness-raising activities between Armenia and Turkey,
and improving information flow, communication exchange and networking between
media, expert communities and institutions. The project, which started in
April 2016, will include a series of activities in the areas of Business,
Policy Research, Culture, Education, Media and Youth. The project will support
travel and fellowship opportunities targeting different actors and segments of
societies. Within the project various activities will be implemented, including
workshops and trainings for youth; exchange of architects and entrepreneurs;
research on business and economic opportunities; media research; agribusiness
development; youth and community development, as well as policy analysis. More
information can be found at:
have authorities been responsive to your activity of human rights advocacy so
EPF’s Human
Rights Program
 and with support of the Embassy of the Kingdom
of the Netherlands in Georgia and Armenia EPF has been implementing a chain of
intertwined projects on religious tolerance and anti-discrimination since 2012.
These projects aimed to improve public attitudes towards different religions,
promote sensitive and balanced media coverage on religious tolerance,
peaceful coexistence and diversity, support the improvement of legislative
framework on non-discrimination. In 2014 EPF implemented a comprehensive legal
 which highlighted the need in adopting a
stand-alone anti-discrimination law in Armenia. Based on this research an
agreement was reached with Armenian authorities, namely the Ministry of Justice
of Armenia to draft a new non-discrimination law. EPF, apart from playing a
role in advocacy of the law, has become a platform gathering the
government, Armenian CSOs and IOs to discuss and further develop the
anti-discrimination draft law and its adoption strategy. The process marked an
unprecedented level of cooperation between a CSO and the government, since this
was one of the rare instances in Armenia when a CSO facilitated the process of
adoption of legislation and elaborated a legislative act together with Armenian
authorities. Through involvement of civil society organizations the
anti-discrimination draft law (with the preliminary title “On
Equality”) has been revised ensuring its compliance with international
best practice and Armenia’s international obligations, and was submitted to the
Ministry of Justice. EPF believes that working with authorities as human
rights decision makers proactively and constructively through different
platforms is essential in effectively addressing the pressing human rights
issues and reaching the improvement of human rights situation in the country.
Hence, apart from drafting the law, EPF has made 16 recommendations pertaining
to the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and faith, combating
discrimination, rights of a child and persons with disabilities for the
new Action Plan deriving from the provisions of the Armenia’s National
Strategy on Human Rights protection initiated by the Ministry of Justice.
Moreover, EPF is represented in the Ministry of Justice and UNICEF Juvenile
Justice Council within the project on “Improvement of Access to Justice for
Children” contributing to the improvement of the sphere of children’s human rights
in Armenia.