The Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) was established in 1997, while it was officially registered to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Montenegro on July 15, 1998 as a non-profit association of citizens to contribute to strengthening civil society and process of democratization in Montenegro .
CEDEM’s mission is to improve the process of democratization and raise awareness of the importance of proper and successful democratic transition while researching, analyzing and monitoring relevant socio-political issues.
The vision of the organization is to contribute to Montenegro as a strong participatory democracy integrated into the European Union and fully committed to European values.
The first director was Dr. Srdjan Darmanovic, also one of the founders, while from 2004 to 2017, the organization was managed by Nenad Koprivica. Since 2017, Milena Bešić has been the director.
The new strategic plan of the organization for the period 2019-2024 defines the work of the organization through four strategic programs: Rule of Law, Human Rights, Euro-Atlantic Integration and Public Administration. Within the mentioned programs, it implements the following activities:
Since its inception, CEDEM has focused on establishing the rule of law in the country, strongly advocating for legal reform and capacity building of the public sector and civil society to embrace and uphold the rule of law. CEDEM is the first non-governmental organization in Montenegro that organized seminars on international and legal standards of the European Union and the Council of Europe. In cooperation with the Judicial and Prosecutorial Training Center and the Office of the Representative of Montenegro before the European Court of Human Rights, it implements training programs for representatives of the judiciary, and develops guidelines and manuals through articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. From 1999 until today, over 7,000 lawyers, judges, prosecutors and other civil servants, representatives of civil society organizations and the media have participated in our training programs.
CEDEM drafted the first Anti-Discrimination Law in 2005, followed by many educational programs in this area, which are being implemented after 20 years of work of the organization, with continuous research on patterns and levels of discrimination in Montenegro. In cooperation with relevant experts, CEDEM works on improving the normative framework in the field of human rights, especially on the protection and promotion of the rights of minorities and vulnerable categories of society. In addition, the human rights situation in Montenegro is continuously monitored and assessed, and in accordance with the same, analyzes with recommendations are published with the aim of improving the implementation of the normative framework.
CEDEM is recognized as an organization that promotes Euro-Atlantic values, through the preparation of practical policy proposals and a summary of practical policy proposals related to NATO membership and EU integration of Montenegro. Within this program, CEDEM strongly advocates Montenegro’s accession to the EU through the implementation of activities aimed at affirming the values of a pluralistic, democratic and open society, European values and standards.
The political criteria for Montenegro’s accession to the EU imply the need for public administration reform and the achievement of institutional stability, thus guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the protection of minorities. In this regard, CEDEM conducts research activities and capacity building of institutions related to encouraging openness, accountability, and professionalization and depoliticization of system institutions. On the other hand, the importance of free access of citizens to public information is actively promoted.
In the regular annual reports of the University of Pennsylvania from the USA, within the framework of The Think Tanks and Civil Society Program (TTCSP), it ranks high every year. In 2020, CEDEM is the 11th leading think-tank organization in Central and Eastern Europe.