From Polarization to Participation
For 47 States in Europe it should be clear that civil society and its associations, the NGOs, have a legally approved status and are part and parcel of the fabric that makes up a successful nation. This sense of clarity in principal goes back to the Council of Ministers Recommendation 2007(14) of the Council of Europe.
Here we are ten years later, realizing that in many places the Civic Space has come under threat.
Concretely, the above-mentioned ten years existence of a formal Recommendation does not suffice. Implementation and accountability must follow. This does not seem to go without the responsibility of citizens and their associations in order to improve or re-establish the checks and balances in public governance so as to have that relationship between rulers and ruled, which allows for creative modernisation that is beneficial for the greater good.
The INGO Council of Experts on NGO Law has published opinions in the last weeks that roll out the facts in this regard: one Expert Opinion concerns the impact of the State of emergency on Freedom of Association in Turkey. And the other Opinion concerns the draft law 140/2017 in Romania, showing serious shortcomings as regards compliance with international standards.
Citizens’ actions, such as the Swiss Initiative for Responsible Multinationals, in which an unprecedented 80+ alliance of grass roots associations have rallied to set Human Rights and Sustainability standards for big corporates based there. It is a move to establish supply chain ethics in the globalized world, to restore the human face of economy.
In the coming new year, when the world will reach seventy years of the universal declaration of Human Rights, the INGO Conference stands ready and available to contribute to changes for the better. One such way is using the Dialogue Toolkit presented on this site, which helps move situations from polarization to participation. Happy holidays!