Rights & Justice

Lost in Pretrial Limbo

As millions of people around the world languish behind bars—without being tried or found guilty—their families slip deeper into poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
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In Mpungu, Malawi, villagers prepare for the funeral of the local head man. His nephew and heir, Benson Sango, will be unable to attend. Benson has been held in Maula prison, in the capital, Lilongwe, for more than two years without bail or a trial. The Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice is documenting the costs of excessive and unnecessary pretrial detention. We are helping governments develop bail and supervision systems that can make detention exception, and not the rule.

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Photo credit: © Ed Kashi/VII for the Open Society Foundations
Man resting hands on bars of prison cell


Stop Torture in Health Care

Far too many people experience cruel and degrading treatment in the name of health care. We are working to put an end to human rights violations and abuses in health care settings.
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From the Campaign to Stop Torture in Health Care: Detention as Treatment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Image is a frame from the film "Violence Is Not the Solution." In all corners of the world, people who use drugs are forcibly detained in "rehabilitation" centers where they may be subjected to beatings, forced labor, medical experimentation, denial of basic health care (including evidence-based drug treatment), and other severe human rights violations. Thousands of people throughout Southeast Asia are locked away in so-called drug rehabilitation centers where they are regularly beaten, abused, and denied access to medical care. The Campaign to Stop Torture in Health Care is working worldwide to put an end to human rights violations and abuses in health care settings.

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Photo credit: © Scott Anger and Bob Sacha for the Open Society Foundations

Governance & Accountability

Grassroots Justice

Unfair or inaccessible legal systems leave four billion people around the world without the means to protect themselves. Legal empowerment aims to return power to the people.
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Vita Kalembet, a paralegal, is helping Alina Grotsyk navigate Ukraine's complex bureaucracy to secure child support for her son. Kalembet is one of a growing number of paralegals working in rural Ukraine, where economic and political transition over the past two decades has left many people with limited access to public services or information. But in four regions, community law centers funded by the Open Society Foundations are helping ordinary people assert their rights under the law.

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Photo credit: © Stephanie Sinclair/VII for the Open Society Foundations
Kids playing chess

Education & Youth

Expanding Learning, Expanding Opportunities

Our advocacy and debate initiatives strive to ensure that young people of different backgrounds have equal access to education and individual expression.
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Students at Hilton Elementary School in West Baltimore leave school at 5:30 p.m. The additional hours give kids the full array of activities that all parents would like for their children but that many families can’t afford.

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Photo credit: © Bruce Weller for the Open Society Foundations
Aung San Suu Kyi raising hand with writing on it

Media & Information

Even Though I’m Free, I Am Not

In James Mackay’s portraits, Burmese dissidents pose with the names of political prisoners on their raised palms, to pay tribute to and stand in solidarity with peers who remain imprisoned for their activities and beliefs.
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Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy, was arrested for the first time in July 1989. She has been detained on three separate occasions and has spent more than 15 years under house arrest in Rangoon. Released from her latest sentence in November 2010, she continues to work to achieve democracy and national reconciliation in Burma in spite of continued threats and oppression from the ruling military regime. On her hand is written the name of Soe Min Min, a member of the National League for Democracy who was arrested in 2008 for praying at Shwedagon Pagoda for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. He is serving a nine year sentence at Insein prison. Update: Soe Min Min was released from Insein prison according to a conditional amnesty announced by the Burmese regime on January 12, 2012.

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Photo credit: © James Mackay


Improve Lives.

We help protect and improve the lives of people in marginalized communities.

Foster Change.

Through grantmaking and advocacy, we support efforts to create a more just world.

Featured Work

Think Broadly.

As we work to advance open society values, we learn and share our expertise.

Open Society Voices

Policing should be based on strategies that are actually proven to make communities safer, engage citizens, and uphold fundamental protections guaranteed by our constitution.
Across Europe, Roma communities are bearing the brunt of populist hostility. We need to confront the deeply embedded institutional racism that continues to undermine all efforts to promote inclusion.

Upcoming Events


This panel event, featuring Alexander Cooley, author of Great Games, Local Rules, examines Central Asia's lessons for governing a multipolar or “post-Western” world.


This briefing will analyze to what extent Nigeria’s planned constitutional reform could bring substantial change to the country's political and socio-economic system.

Work Locally.

Our network of programs and regional foundations addresses key issues.



The Scholarship Programs aim to promote critical thinking, free and open intellectual inquiry, and cross-cultural tolerance and respect.

The Think Tank Fund of the Open Society Foundations supports democratic processes through core and institutional grants, research projects to improve democratic governance and tackle intolerance, and a variety of fellowship, internship and peer exchange opportunities.

The Open Society Early Childhood Program promotes the healthy development of young children through parent and community engagement, professional development, and government accountability.