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ECNL Director highlights importance of civil society & steps to enhance freedoms at OSCE ODIHR HDIM

ECNL Executive Director, Mrs. Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans was invited to deliver an introductory speech at the 2014 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), Europe’s largest annual human rights and democracy conference which is organized every year by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

As an introducer of the 3rd working session on freedom of peaceful assembly and association on 23rd September 2014 she was talking about the importance of civil society, trend of increasing restrictions on civil society on national level all over the word and outlined examples how the enjoyment of the freedoms of association and assembly can be enhanced.

“Civil society, in all its forms have come to play crucial roles in shaping democratic systems and values, voicing opinions and in providing services needed by the people. However, increasingly policies and laws are adopted that have an adverse effect on civil society. There have been several of justifications or reasons invoked for this – from economic crisis, security threats, foreign agents, through the smallest of domestic issues or partisan concerns. Even the best intentioned drafted laws can have negative effect, and undesired consequences. But too many of the laws over the recent years appear to be designed with negative consequences for civil society as the planned outcome.”

As constructive examples on how to protect civil society space from shrinking and working towards advancing our society, Mrs. Hadzi-Miceva Evans explained the relevance of enhancing international and regional norms to respond the emerging threats; the special importance of continuous mechanisms to monitor the implementation of these norms and also all national laws. Also she highlighted how the modern information and communication technology can be essential for promoting the enjoyment of these freedoms, such us creating online platforms for easier registration and reporting, resource mobilization, for public participation which can facilitate broader input in policy and law making processes, also providing space for dialogue among the people for fundraising activities, information exchange and awareness raising. Finally, she highlighted the importance of effective communication and cooperation on a national level within civil society and also among CSOs and policy makers, public authorities. She concluding by highlighting that we all have a responsibility to ensure that civil society has the conditions it needs to thrive.

The video recording of the HDIM working sessions, including the full introductory speech of Mrs. Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans can be viewed here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/53022203

For more information on HDIM see: http://www.osce.org/odihr/hdim_2014