On the 30th and 31st of May, BCSDN organized the Regional Workshop “Joint Action for Promoting Civic Space and a More Resilient Civil Society” in Belgrade.
To address the aim of the workshop – to discuss innovative and responsive advocacy approaches for increasing the role of civil society at national, regional and EU level in dealing with the challenges brought about by the recent crises – we composed an agenda that represented a logical consistency reflecting our core work: the state of civil society in the region and its prospects, effective development, sustainability, regional cooperation, civic space and its protection and promotion. The workshop gathered over 40 representatives from national and international CSOs, donors, journalists and interested individuals.
On the first day, we premiered the preliminary findings from the 2021 Monitoring Matrix Report, both the regional and the key national issues. The presentation also served to validate the initial MM findings, as the report will be finalized and published in the coming weeks. Proceeding with contents focused on the donor`s adaptability and flexibility in crisis, followed by joint work on the issue of how to better understand and support each other’s positions, we finished the first day gaining some new perspectives on ours and our donor`s work.
We dedicated the second day to covering all the aspects of the (shrinking) civic space: how to recognize its narrowing, how to shift it through the physical and cyberspace, how to expand it, and how to act together to combat the imposed restrictions. We identified closer cooperation with various stakeholders outside the usual ones, regional and global solidarity and coalition-building, value-based communications and people-centered work as some of the most important avenues for promoting civic space and strengthening our resilience and impact.
Starting from the idea that such events and discussions are more worthy if shared and public, instead of being exclusively accessible, our regional workshop took a hybrid format. The event was live-streamed through social media (access to links available below), making the topics of public interest – publicly available. Moreover, in the coming weeks, we’ll prepare a more detailed report on the discussions and main conclusions.
The event has been conducted within the framework of the project “Improved CSOs responses to the pandemic and post-pandemic challenges in the Western Balkans” supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, financed by the United State International Development Agency (USAID).
[LINKS TO VIDEO RECORDINGS]
Session 1: The state of civil society in the Western Balkans: Monitoring Matrix Regional Report ‘21
- Ms. Anja Bosilkova-Antovska, BCSDN: Regional Report findings
- Ms. Snezhana Kamilovska-Trpovska, MCIC: Key findings from North Macedonia
- Ms. Zorana Markovic, CRNVO: Key findings from Montenegro
- Ms. Tara Petrovic, Civic Initiatives: Key findings from Serbia
- Mr. Dren Puka, KCSF: Key findings from Kosovo
Session 2: Support to civil society in crises: Donors’ perspectives
- Ms. Natasa Petrovic, Balkan Trust for Democracy
- Mr. Daniele Aloisi, DG NEAR
- Ms. Melina Papageorgiou, SDC Serbia
Session 3: Exploring new civic spaces
- Mr. Gorjan Jovanovski, Zelen Human Grad: MojGrad
- Mr. Damjan Jugović, Council of Europe: Gradimo Mostar
- Ms. Milena Dimitrovska, BNLD: Citizen participation in the Western Balkans
- Mr. Uros Misljenovic: Partners for Democratic Change Serbia, Engagement of WB CSOs in the shaping and implementation of the Digital Agenda
Session 4: Addressing the challenges
- Ms. Tara Petrović, Civic Initiatives: SLAPPs /Attacks on activists/Smear campaigns in Serbia
- Ms. Medina Mujić, CURE Foundation: Women issues, destabilization in BiH
- Mr. Balázs Dénes, Liberties Executive Director: EU trends of cracking civic space
Session 5: How to overcome the closing of civic space together?
- Mr. Andrew Firmin, CIVICUS
- Mr. Richard Allen, EU TACSO 3
- Ms. Ana Zbona, Business and Human Rights Resource Center
- Ms. Tamara Filipovic, NUNS/Safejournalists
- Ms. Sonja Stojanovic Gajic