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Empowerment for change

Core to ECNL’s mission is empowering local stakeholders to engage in policy dialogue and reform through participatory law reform, interest-based negotiation, and inter-sectoral partnerships. ECNL also works with CSOs to support their organizational development, governance, accountability and transparency to ensure they can carry out their missions most effectively and strengthen their role.

Empowering civil society in Iraq

The Iraqi state guarantees in its Constitution that it will strengthen the role of civil society in the country, supporting its development and respecting its independence. The first step to ensure this was the adoption of laws on NGOs in 2010 and 2011 which are considered to be among the most enabling laws of the Middle East region. The process provided a positive example of participatory decision-making and generated the momentum for creating a policy for cooperation with civil society (PDCs). Public authorities and NGOs started discussing the need for a mechanism to increase mutual cooperation and strengthen civil society involvement in political life.

ECNL had a leading role in the two parallel processes launched by UNOPS to develop a PDC at the Federal level and in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, with EU support for the Federal and Danish support for the regional document. ECNL experts presented examples from European countries as well as from the Region that was an important element of building trust and confidence in the initiative. The drafting of PDCs was based on a highly participatory process including consultation with public authorities, academia, media and hundreds of NGOs. As a result, ownership was maintained and the documents responded to the local context, needs and realities.

After over a year of intensive work, the Compact on Partnership and Development between Public Authorities and NGOs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq was ratified by the Kurdistan Region Parliament in June 2013 and signed by NGOs on September 4, 2013 which is the first of its kind in the Middle East. It institutionalizes the relationship between public authorities and NGOs and outlines the values and principles governing their relationship as well as the mutual undertakings of the parties.

Recognizing the above achievements, the Project was extended by UNOPS to continue the work and support the implementation of the Compact in 2014. In the first half of 2014, the ECNL experts contributed to increased awareness of the Compact and the development of institutional and regulatory framework for implementation and monitoring.

On the Federal level, the draft of the Charter of Cooperation between Public Authorities and Non-Governmental Organization was finalized in December and currently local partners are advocating for its adoption.