ECNL collaborates with local partners to create regulation and increase understanding of adopted policies and laws, which ensure effective and progressive implementation of these policies and laws. Importantly, ECNL helps to develop tools and mechanisms for monitoring implementation , which, as the result, identify the areas for further needed assistance and help partners design reform and advocacy approaches.
ECNL has been involved in various initiatives that aims to monitor the enabling environment for civil society. Under ICNL’s Legal Innovation Fund, supported by USAID and PACT, the Monitoring Matrix and Toolkit on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development was published by the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN). Developed together with ECNL’s partners in the Balkan region, the Matrix monitors the progress in creating an enabling environment for civil society development and has been designed to respond to the needs of the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The Matrix presents the main principles and standards that have been identified as crucial to exist in order for the legal environment to be considered as supportive and enabling for the operations of CSOs. It underscores the fact that enabling environment is a complex concept, which includes various areas and depends on several factors and phases of development of the society and the civil society sector. The Matrix is organized around three areas, each divided by sub-areas. The main areas are:
- Basic Legal Guarantees of Freedoms
- Framework for CSOs’ Financial Viability and Sustainability
- Government – CSO Relationship
The monitoring methodology and reporting templates support partners in the Balkans to be able to review the country situation and produce harmonized reports in line with the Matrix.
Based on the country reports, ECNL experts elaborated a regional report that identifies common trends and country challenges for advocacy efforts on national, regional and European level.
ECNL provided overall strategic support and expertise to the expert team during the development of the Matrix in methodological and thematic issues. ECNL also brought in a wider international and legal perspective so that the Matrix and the Toolkit can potentially serve civil society communities outside of the Balkans.
Monitoring freedom of assembly in the Western Balkans
The Western Balkans has experienced significant setbacks by European standards in the area of freedom of assembly. During its work in the region, ECNL has identified threats to this fundamental right, and found that there is a lack of awareness and understanding of the legal framework, related international standards and monitoring of their implementation.
ECNL therefore designed a pilot research project to monitor the legal framework and practical implementation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in 5 Western Balkan countries (Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) in order to increase the understanding of how this freedom is applied and how it can be protected. ECNL cooperated with local research organizations with advocacy capacity and potential to take the issue of freedom of assembly further and advocate for necessary change in their countries.
Using the methodology specifically developed for this project, the research was conducted in the first half of 2016, producing five country reports, as well as a short regional summary of all countries’ findings. ECNL and partners also developed recommendations for regional and in-country action and advocacy safeguarding the right to free assembly.