The Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, the Civil Society Resource Centre, and the Balkan Civil Society Development Network are pleased to present the seventh edition of the Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development (CSDev), covering developments in North Macedonia in 2019.
The report is part of a series of country reports covering seven countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
According to the findings for 2019, the environment for development of the civil society in 2019 was relatively enabling. The basic freedoms (association, assembly and expression) were guaranteed, with certain restrictions in practice. There were no significant legal changes that directly influenced and supported the operations of CSOs. However, a few new laws (e.g. Law on Free Access to Public Information, Law on Social Protection, Law on Free Legal Aid, etc.) could be beneficial to CSOs work. Yet, the provisions in two draft-laws have been identified as possible threats to the freedom of association: The Draft-Law on Lobbying, and the draft Law on Public Gatherings. The long waited comprehensive reform of the system for state funding for CSOs has progressed slowly, but still state funding is a non-recognizable source of income for CSOs and is accessible only to a limited number of CSOs.
The dialogue and cooperation between the government and CSOs has progressed. The significant involvement of CSOs in public policy creation and law-making processes has continued throughout 2019, through different forms of inclusion. CSOs were involved in the preparation of certain laws, important for the operation of CSOs. The Council for Cooperation with and Development of the Civil Society has continued to effectively function throughout the year, focusing on issues of importance of the civil sector.
The report provides recommendations, prioritizing urgent areas for the Government to take action in order to support and develop the environment for civil society: Legislative guarantees for the principle of the freedom of association have to be ensured; The existing model of state funding for CSOs should be reformed without delay; All institutions in the country are expected to involve the public and CSOs in the decision- making processes, especially on issues referring to the rule of law and anti-corruption. The Council for Cooperation with and Development of the Civil Society should further improve its effectiveness and should include the civil society more substantially.
The report is part of the activities of the Project “Protecting Civic Space – Regional Civil Society Development Hub”, financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and implemented by the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) in cooperation with its member organizations in the countries of the Western Balkans.