BCSDN Regional Conference: The Role of CSOs in Promoting Civic Space

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On June 21st, 2017, BCSDN organized a regional conference titled: “The Role of CSOs in Promoting Civic Space”, in Skopje, Macedonia. Gathering more than 40 CSO representatives from Macedonia, the Western Balkans and Europe, the conference aimed at discussing ways for promoting civic space and fostering enabling environment for civil society.

As a keynote speaker, Dhananjayan Sivaguru Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation opened the discussion. Danny provided the global perspective with the issue of shrinking civic space, pinpointing to reasons for a difficult enabling environment. He also presented CIVICUS Monitor – the first ever online tool to track and compare civic freedoms on a global scale. While explaining what CSOs shall do, and what CIVICUS is doing on the issue in particular, Danny pinpointed that CSOs the 21st century is the century of citizen participation and that it is time for CSOs to reimagine democracy.

The following discussions were organized into three panel sessions focusing on exchange of good practices for monitoring and advocacy, improving accountability, and enhancing cooperation within the sector. On the panel session titled CSO actions in promoting enabling environment for civil society development – introductory addresses were given by Aleksandar Krzhalovski Executive Director, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation; Tevfik Basak Ersen Secretary General, TUSEV; Fani Karanfilova – Panovska Executive Director Foundation Open Society – Macedonia; and Kotilda Tavani Kosta Director of Programmes, Partners Albania for Change and Development. The panel session Practices and standards for civil society accountability was addressed by Katja Gürten Accountability Advisor, Global Standard for CSO Accountability and Ilina Neshikj Acting Executive Director, BCSDN. Finally, during the third panel session Building coalitions for promoting civic space, addresses were given by Marina Škrabalo Senior Advisor, GONG; Raluca Teodor Programme Coordinator, Civil Society Development Foundation; and Petrus Theunisz International Team Leader, CIVICA Mobilitas.

In brief, the speakers and participants undoubtedly agreed that the role of democracy needs to be reimagined. Furthermore, they emphasized that solidarity among CSOs and activists shall be reinforced at all levels. More so, CSOs pinpointed that it is also necessary for them to improve their own accountability both internal and external. Finally, the present participants and speakers highlighted that civic space shall be re-shaped to include unusual suspects as religious CSOs, trade unions, media, businesses and new forms of civil society.

Missed the conference? Follow the links below and watch the discussions:

The conference is organised in the frame of the project “Protecting Civic Space – Duties and Participants” supported by the Civica Mobilitas, Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency Project.

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