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Strengthening the Legal Framework for Citizen Action through Freedom of Association

EIDHR Regional Project (2007-2009)

The two years regional project supported by the European Commission focused on improving the legislative and policy framework for freedom of association and civil society in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. In each country, the project aimed at addressing the current needs identified by ECNL and its partners through a series of meetings, exchanges and an intensive process of developing policy papers and country strategies. Specifically, the proeject contributed towards:

(A)    Strengthening foundations for enabling legislation for CSOs in compliance with international standards by assistance to local partners in  adoption of 12 documents on participation and cooperation and  6 draft documents on enabling environment for CSOs.
(B)    Strengthening the potential for CSO advocacy related to freedom of association and sustainability, e.g. building capacity of local experts, preparing policy documents on challenges and priorities for reform and supporting regional exchanges on best practices and strategies for advocacy.

In addition, ECNL and its partners:

1.  Raised awareness of the needs and importance of bringing local legislation in line with international standards by:

  • Developing 4 White Papers, one for each county, which analysed the most pertinent issues of legal framework for CSOs and CSO-government cooperation;
  • Developing 5 research reports and analysis;
  • Organizing or participating in 30 events: public discussions, conferences, parliamentary sessions, which included over 1000 local stakeholders (approximately, 360 in Year 1 and 649 in Year 2);
  • Holding in-person meetings and consultations with government officials and CSOs.

As a result of these activities the local stakeholders have been able to initiate, lead and participate in local reform processes and advocacy activities – with better understanding of the local context, the international norms and best practices that regulate the field.  

2. Provided on-going technical assistance, comparative expertise and support in developing local policies, justifications and legislation.

ECNL and our project partners provided technical assistance and expertise in the adoption of a 12 legal documents (laws, policies, codes, strategies and regulations on national and local level), and 10 draft legal documents (laws, policies, regulations, amendments).

These documents were developed based on analysis of local needs, and in large part reflected on the best practices on European level as well as integrated principles from European documents concerning freedom of association and participation. 3 recommendations were developed to support legal initiatives in the project countries.

In addition, ECNL submitted Recommendations to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its Moldova Strategy.

3. Ensured multi-stakeholder participation in freedom of association law reform processes.

ECNL and its partners supported the establishment of 12 cross-sector working groups which included representatives from both the CSOs and the government/local government. 22 public discussions and 6 national conferences, two parliamentary sessions ensured wider participation of interested and concerned CSOs, experts and other stakeholders.

4. Increased local capacity on CSO law reform issues.

ECNL and partners held nineteen training events or consultation sessions specifically designed to build the skills of local partners, CSOs and other stakeholders to be capable to undertake local reform initiatives, identify priorities and learn about the policy and legal issues which need to be addressed through the reforms.

We conducted training events for partner organisations and local experts in Armenia that increased the skills of local experts in assessing the policy environment and addressed organisational capacity issues.  We supported the development of or translation into local languages of 8 client friendly brochures and publications to support the planning and implementation of local initiatives. In the two years over 280 stakeholders were trained (approximately 30 in Year 1 and 252 in Year 2)

As a result, local partners planned, prepared and led the CSO law reform processes themselves, produced research analysis, draft legal documents, and conducted capacity building activities for other stakeholders, including government officials to ensure successful implementation of the activities.  

5. Promoted experience sharing and networking to support capacity building and law reform processes by organizing study visits, international conferences with participation of European experts and involved partners in regional events organized by ECNL.

“Your recent regional project on ‘Strengthening the Legal Framework for Citizen Action Through Freedom of Association’ […] is considered by all stakeholders and us here in Brussels as a real success at both regional and in-country levels. This project could constitute a model which could inspire many participants and help them to better reflect on how to implement a project at regional level in a positive and result-oriented manner.”

Jean-Charles de Cordes, EuropeAid Co-operation Office