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ECNL Supports Development and Implementation of First Policies for Cooperation in the Middle East

In 2014 ECNL continues to support the development and implementation of policy processes and mechanisms between public authorities and civil society in Iraq on the federal level as well as in the Kurdistan region. Contracted by UNOPS, ECNL will work on the finalizing the draft of the Iraq wide policy document for cooperation and ensuring its adoption and continue to support the implementation of the already-adopted Kurdistan Compact.

In the framework of the project, the following activities have taken place so far:

Supporting Federal Parliament and CSOs in developing policy document for collaboration through funding from the European Union

1. Parliamentarians and CSOs kicked off the drafting process of the first Iraqi policy on civil society and authority cooperation in September 2012. During the first meeting they were informed about comparative examples and experiences, they made an assessment of the situation and needs in Iraq and agreed on the plan for the process.

2. In November 2012, Parliamentarians, CSOs and member of Government took part in a study visit to Estonia where they learnt about the development of the Estonian Concept for Civil Society. The study visit was organized in collaboration with the Network of Estonian NGOs – NENO.

3. In May 2013, Parliamentarians and CSOs developed the first draft “Charter of the Public Authorities for Cooperation with Non-Governmental Organizations for the Development of Iraqi Society”. The document was open for consultation with broader stakeholders at the end of spring.

4. ECNL held a training of trainers that led the consultation sessions.

5. On 4 September 2013, MP al-Jabbouri and Minister al-Safi organized a joint press conference on the floor of the Iraqi parliament to announce completion of the most recent draft of the Charter of Cooperation between Public Authorities and NGOs for the Development of Iraqi Society. Immediately after the press conference, the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI) launched the second phase of the consultation process to gather civil society inputs regarding the draft Charter. This phase included 18 consultation workshops. 30 consultation workshops had been already implemented during the first phase. Read more…

6. A final consultation was held in Baghdad from 12 – 13 October, where representatives selected by their peers at each of the 18 consultation meetings met together to prepare a final set of recommended changes for the project implementation committee (PIC). The meeting was overseen by ECNL’s expert facilitator.

7. With assistance provided by ECNL’s local partner, GONG, a study visit for selected Iraqi government officials in charge of the Iraqi NGOs Directorate was organized in Zagreb, Croatia in early November. Participants had the opportunity to meet and learn from relevant government officials and representatives of the Croatian civil society about the achievements of their particular model for CSO-government cooperation, including lessons learned. Among others, the delegation met with Mr Igor Vidacak, former ECNL Supervisory Board member and the Head of the Government’s Office for Cooperation with NGOs. Mr Vidacak presented the main priorities of the National Strategy for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society by 2016, the main components of the institutional structures for cooperation between the state and CSOs, as well as the system of public financing of projects and programs of interest to the common good .

8. A third and final policy document on cooperation (PDC) drafting workshop is tentatively scheduled to take place from 16 – 17 November 2013. With the final draft of the PDC prepared, UNOPS and PIC members will work to ensure that the PDC is approved by the Council of Representatives and, if appropriate, endorsed by a wide range of Iraqi civil society organizations. Though it is difficult to predict legislative outcomes in advance, the final PDC might be approved by the Council of Representatives before the end of the current legislative term.

Supporting the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Parliament and CSOs to develop policy document for collaboration through funding from the Government of Denmark

1. In June 2012, Parliamentarians and CSOs kicked off the drafting process of the first policy document on civil society and authority cooperation for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. During the first meeting they were informed about comparative examples and experiences, they made an assessment of the situation and needs in the region and developed on a plan for the process.

2. In September 2012, MPs, government and CSO representatives visited Estonia to learn from the country’s experience on developing compacts for collaboration. The study visit was organized in collaboration with the Network of Estonian NGOs – NENO. For pictures, please see UNOPS’ Facebook page.

3. In October 2012, ECNL consultants supported the development of a first draft was by MPs, Government representatives and CSOs. Open consultations were held in order to include all stakeholders in the process.

4. By March 2013,over 500 civil society organizations, as well as members of academia and the media, have taken part in 25 workshops across the region to discuss their inputs to the draft agreement, which is intended to improve cooperation between public authorities and civil society in areas such as citizen participation in policy making, sustainable and transparent funding for civil society, how best to provide services to the public, and public authority-civil society partnerships for development.

5. In April 2013, the final roundtable discussion on the draft took place and the draft was agreed by the MPs and CSOs at the event.

6. On June 12, 2013, the Kurdistan Parliament approved the Compact on Partnership and Development between Public Authorities and Non-Governmental Organizations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

7. The Compact on Partnership and Development between Public Authorities and Non-Governmental Organizations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq was signed and adopted on September 4, 2013. Read more…

8. In December 2013, ECNL organized a study visit for a delegation of Kurdish government officials, members of parliament, and civil society leaders to Denmark to help them move forward with the implementation of the Kurdistan Compact, it being broadly similar to the Danish Charter for interaction between Volunteer Denmark/Associations Denmark and the public sector.