The Centre for Democracy Public Foundation was established by the Government of Hungary in August 2005. The objective of the Foundation and its independent organisational unit, the International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT), is to collect, synthetize, and share the experiences gained during the democratic transition without limiting its geographical scope. The establishment of the Centre for Democracy is in line with Hungary’s efforts to play an active role in the international arena.

The Tom Lantos Institute (TLI) as the Centre for Democracy Public Foundation's independent organisational unit, was established in 2011 and is a human and minority rights organisation with a particular focus on Jewish and Roma communities, Hungarian minorities, and other ethnic or national, linguistic and religious minorities.

The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) from January 2017 is also a separate legal entity under the Centre for Democracy Public Foundation operating as a research institute and a think-tank as well. IFAT is carrying out active research in fields covering the priorities of the Hungarian foreign policy.  IFAT is present in the Hungarian professional network with public research reports and analyses (often involving external experts), with non-public reports, studies and other professional materials.

In the course of its activity, the Centre for Democracy Public Foundation

  • actively contributes to the spread of democratic government structures without any geographic limitations;
  • performs tasks related to the scientific study of democratic transition;
  • collects, systemises, processes and shares the practical experiences gained during the democratic transition of the Republic of Hungary and the other countries of the Central and Eastern European region;
  • lays the academic groundwork for the international relationships of the Republic of Hungary based on the principles of independence, democracy and mutual benefits as well as analysing them in light of global trends and European integration tendencies;
  • monitors and studies the principles of and the legislative practice on democracy of the international community, and specifically of the members of the European Union;
  • maintains contact with as well as processes and utilises the experiences and legislative practice of the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and other international organizations;
  • studies and monitors the practical implementation and observation of the universal ideas of democracy and human rights adopted by the international community;
  • analyses the impacts of democratic transition on exercising human rights;
  • supports the decision-making process related to foreign affairs and trade by research, analysis and dissemination activity;
  • supports background policy on the topic of foreign affairs and trade with special regards to the governmental organizations;
  • contributes to the skill training activities of the experts and other officials in the framework of the Hungarian foreign affairs and trade.

The first president of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Democracy was Árpád Göncz, former president, who in 2006 was followed by Dr. Iván Vitányi, socialist member of parliament. From 2015 the president of the Board of Trustees is Dr. János Martonyi, the vice-president is László Kovács, and the members are Dr. József Kozma, Dr. Jenő Megyesy, Dr. Tamás Meszerics, Dr. Gábor Tamás Nagy, Zsolt Németh; and the president of the Supervisory Board is Dr. György Surányi, former president of the Hungarian National Bank.