The Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) was established in Poland in 2009 on the initiative of Ukrainian student and civic activist Lyudmyla Kozlovska (who currently serves as President of the Foundation). Since its founding, statutory objectives of the Foundation include the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the post-Soviet area. The Foundation originally focused its attention primarily on Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and – since 2016 – Moldova, but this area of interest was expanded in July 2017 due to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Poland and other EU member states affected by illiberal policies implemented by their populist governments.
The Foundation has its permanent representative offices in Warsaw and Brussels. ODF pursues its goals through the organisation of observation missions, monitoring especially individual human rights’ violation cases. It also advocates for international legislation better serving human rights, such as the Magnitsky Act or the adding of conditionality clauses to EU & international financial assistance programmes directed at non-democratic states and hybrid regimes. The Foundation also has extensive experience in the field of protection of the rights of political prisoners and refugees.
Based on its work, ODF publishes analytical reports and distributes them among EU institutions, OSCE, Council of Europe, the UN, other human rights organisations, foreign ministries and parliaments, as well as the media. It is actively engaged in cooperation with members of parliaments involved in foreign affairs, human rights and relations with monitored third countries.
ODF advocates for the reform of Interpol and – more recently – the Schengen Information System (SIS), preventing their mechanisms from being used by authoritarian and hybrid regimes to persecute their opponents.
In 2013/14 the Foundation organised a mission to support Ukrainian civil society in their struggle for European integration during the Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv’s Maidan square. Following the Russian aggression in 2014, ODF’s humanitarian aid programme, started on Maidan, was expanded to help those affected by the war in the East. From 2014 to 2016 a large support centre was run by ODF in Warsaw under the name “Ukrainian World”, offering everyday life assistance for migrants and fostering Polish-Ukrainian integration.
Independently of its initial statutory objectives, since July 2017 the Foundation and its representatives have been vocal regarding the rule of law situation in Poland, where the current governing party repeatedly violated the country’s constitution. ODF is primarily concerned with the diminishing independence of the judiciary and separation of powers, which in turn weaken the protection of civil rights. These are the basic values the Foundation has been protecting in post-Soviet states since its inception, hence they are of natural concern also in the country where it was founded.