Standard 3.1.2. Institutions and Mechanisms for Development of and Cooperation with Civil Society

Three main institutions and mechanisms are responsible for facilitation of the cooperation with CSOs: the Council for Cooperation with and Development of the Civil Society, the Unit for Cooperation with NGOs, and the network of public servants for monitoring the implementation of the Strategy, consisting of 18 state institutions. The main mechanism, the Council as a cross-sectoral advisory body, remained functional.

Throughout the year, the Rules of procedure of the Council were changed twice. The first amendments included two important changes. The first one related to the efforts of the Council to address the issue of absence at the sessions and the second one added a new chapter which regulated the procedure for nomination of representatives from the civic sector in consultative bodies and working groups. The second step is worrisome since the Decision does not provide a legal base for the Council to introduce this task as part of the mandate within the Rules of procedure, and to engage in the execution of requests from government bodies (such as a request for nomination), but rather  give advice. The procedure provides for certain deadlines and online publishing of  calls for proposals; however, it is the Council that eventually votes and makes the decision on the representative who should take part in these groups/bodies. How it affects the work of the Council is yet to be analyzed, as the more time is dedicated to discuss nominations, the less time is left  to deal  with the key measures of the Strategy leaving this in the hands of the CSOs rather than the Council. The second amendment to the Rules introduced a new chapter on correspondence sessions, as a way of electronic voting for issues for which physical presence is not necessary, aiming amongst other, to tackle the lack of regular participation at sessions. However, it is unclear whether the Council discussed the reasons for unsatisfactory participation, before providing solutions.

The Council has been actively functioning since April 2018 and has held a total number of 18 sessions by the end of 2019, going over the minimum legal requirement for holding at least four sessions a year. During 2019 a total of 10 sessions were held. From the available minutes of the sessions, most of the items on the agenda of the Council, 16 out of 56 total items during 2019, were aiming to improve the cooperation and dialogue between the government and civil society, by nominating CSO representatives to participate in different government bodies and  (2 out of those 16) to take part at events.

0 – 20 Fully disabling environment20 – 40 Disabling environment
40 – 60 Partially enabling environment60 – 80 Enabling environment
80 – 100 Fully enabling environment

 Then, 16 topics for discussion on the agenda were dedicated on the improvement of the internal functioning of the Council. Then followed  the discussions on sharing information on different aspects of state funding (6) together with four items on the agenda in total, including presentation of the on state funding for CSOs.

Almost every session the Council has placed certain recommendations and/or requests for different institutions. The requests made bythe Council to the Unit for Cooperation with NGOs were all accepted and implemented on time. The Council directed other requests  to several institutions, including MF (organized consultations on taxes), SEA (share draft-guide for registration of project and provide less time, 10 days for the duration of the procedure), MJ (timeline on possible changes in LAF) were all accepted and implemented. However, an important recommendation which  was not considered referred to the  the Government’s increase of the funding from the Secretariat, from 12 million MKD (approx. 194,000 EUR) to 60 million MKD (approx. 971,700 EUR) for CSOs. Other adjustments to the funding program were made.

The regular participation at the sessions between the CSOs members and state institutions was a challenge. When it comes to participation of other CSOs, the practice shows that this has not been used as an opportunity. Namely, outside  the Council, only two representatives of CSOs took part (one from the member organizations of the Council), and one independent expert. When it comes to regular participation of the CSOs at the sessions of the members of the Council every session had  a representative absent. Namely, out of 10 sessions, there were more recorded absences on the side of civil servants (six members on average), than on the side of the members of the CSOs (four members on average). At two sessions, seven representatives from CSOs were absent, and at two sessions six CSOs were absent). The highest number of absent members in one session was noted at the15th session when nine civil servants and seven CSO were absent.

According to the survey and concerning the information flow between the Council and CSOs, , 61.3 % of CSOs are informed about the work of the Council, while 38.7% are not.

Chart 11. Are you informed about the work of the Council for Cooperation with and Development of the Civil Society? (%)

Chart 12. Were you consulted by CSO representatives in the Council for Cooperation with and Development of the Civil Society on certain issues related to your work? (%)

According to the survey and concerning the information flow between the Council and CSOs, , 61.3 % of CSOs are informed about the work of the Council, while 38.7% are not.

However, when asked about how the Council can improve the information flow, numerous suggestions were provided. When it comes to the Council consulting with other CSO, the survey showed that  оut of the CSOs which  are informed about  the existence of the Council (61.3%), 43% responded that the CSOs representatives in the Council consult with them about current issues , while 44% are not consulted, and 13% do not know.

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