“Macedonia is again at the forefront of NGO Law regulation! We are grateful to have had ICNL and ECNL’s support in these processes. It is thanks to their continuing advice and commitment that we were able to … justify the progressive proposals and lay the foundation for further reforms to improve the environment for NGOs.”
Natasha Gaber-Damjanovska, judge of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia, as quoted in ICNL Annual Report 2009-2010
Association, Assembly, Participation, Cooperation
Enhancing basis for CSO impact in Macedonia
In Macedonia, ICNL and subsequently ECNL were intensively involved in the creation and later advancement of the legal framework that would enable CSOs to become sustainable actors in the society. We worked with partners intensively to provide expertise and guidance in the reform of key association and foundation regulation, contributed to the drafting of, what is referred to as best law on volunteering, in the creation of mechanisms for collaboration with civil society (office, strategies) and reforming tax laws and participatory mechanisms.
Collaboration for a Greater Social Impact in Macedonia
Though Macedonia has made significant progress in building democratic institutions and strengthening civil society, the country still faces obstacles to achieving an inclusive democracy and economic prosperity. Macedonia’s government has been criticized for lack of transparency and for failing to consider citizens’ needs while creating laws and policies.
To create a more transparent and accountable government in Macedonia, key stakeholders stressed the need to deepen partnerships between civil society and the government. The efforts of the ECNL to promote government-CSO cooperation culminated this year in the adoption of the second Strategy for Cooperation of the Government with the Civil Sector and an accompanying action plan. The Strategy, which outlines the direction for reforms for the next six years, provides an important channel to promote an ongoing dialogue between the government and civil society organizations.
ECNL helped develop the Strategy by providing expertise to the drafters and by facilitating the process, including organizing consultations with key decision-makers and CSO representatives. Under ECNL’s leadership, civil society and public authorities were directly involved in drafting the Strategy and gained first-hand experience of a collaborative process.
Highlighting the benefits of collaboration to both the government and CSOs can help mitigate disagreements between the government and civil society and can limit future attempts to restrict civic space.
ECNL’s emphasis on developing the strategy through a participatory process was an important step to help public authorities understand the needs of civil society and to foster government accountability to its citizens.
Story featured in ICNL Annual Report 2011-2012
We are proud of the following are key results of ECNL’s engagement in Macedonia:
- Produced at least 12 written comments, provided in-person mentoring to CSOs, and in person expertise to government;
- Adopted 2010 Law on Associations and Foundations in line with European standards;
- Adopted Law on Volunteering and Strategy for Volunteering in line with European best practices;
- Trained CSOs on enabling environment issues and implementation of the adopted laws on association and foundation, and volunteering legislation;
- Increased awareness among media and MPs on freedom of association and volunteering laws;
- Published guide to support implementation of the Volunteering Law;
- Supported CSO advocacy for removal of regressive draft provisions of draft Law on Donations and Sponsorship, removal of regressive provisions of amendment to 1998 Law on Citizens’ Associations and Foundations.
- Continuously supported local partners to provide comments, raise awareness and advocate for reform of the Law on Donations and Sponsorship;
- Conducted a comparative research analysis on codes of conduct as mechanisms for self-regulation to support the Macedonian Civil Platform in deciding on the best approach, designing and developing a code of conduct.
- Increased knowledge on mechanisms for public participation;
- Prepared comprehensive analysis on the tax laws affecting civil society, as well as recommendation for amendment to the tax laws that affect NGOs (which in the autumn of 2014 were submitted to the Parliament and the government by over 20 NGOs).
ECNL was enagaged in the following activities with EU and OSCE funding:
ECNL served as an expert consultant to the working group assisting the Macedonian Government and its Unit for Cooperation with NGOs in developing the first ever Strategy for Collaboration with Civil society (2007-2011) and package for reform of mechanisms for governmental funding to NPOs. This activity was a component of a bigger project which also aimed to build the capacity of the Government Unit for Cooperation with CSOs and was implemented by the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (Macedonia) and COWI A/S (Denmark); it was funded by the European Agency for Reconstruction.
ECNL was subcontracted by the OSCE Mission to Skopje and MCIC, to support the development of participatory and transparent law-making process. Key results include:
- Comparative analysis of the legal framework, mechanisms and models for participation on the level of European Union and selected countries in Europe;
- Analysis of the laws and practices for participation in Macedonia;
- Manual on Tools for Increasing Transparency and Public Participation in Law Making Process;
- Comparative paper on criteria and mechanisms for selection of CSOs in government bodies (cross sector working groups, councils, national boards etc) and models for improved framework and guidance to government officials and CSOs.
Technical Assistance to the Unit for Cooperation with NGOs in the General Secretariat:
ECNL was contracted by GOPA Worldwide Consultants as a Senior Short-Term Civil Society Expert under the EU funded project – “Technical Assistance to the Unit for Cooperation with NGOs in the General Secretariat”. With ECNL expertise and assistance the following results with achieved:
- Adopted Strategy for Cooperation between the Government and the Civil Society (2012-2017) and the accompanying Action Plan;
- Prepared methodology and facilitate wide consultation plan with the CSOs and government institutions to collect opinion, comments and input on the drafts of the Strategy and Action Plan;
- Trained government officials on the legal issues regarding CSOs and participatory mechanisms for CSO participation and engagement;
- Developed templates and documents on monitoring and evaluation of the Strategy and Action Plan, including reporting and planning for the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs and responsible ministries.