USAID Award to Promote NGO Law Reform in Central and Eastern Europe

2 May 2001

There was extensive public participation in the law-drafting process. An NGO-government drafting group worked on the laws, the government published the drafts in leading newspapers, and the government held its first-ever public hearing on the NGO law. ICNL supported these participatory processes and provided extensive technical assistance, including over twenty sets of comments on various iterations of the drafts. While local NGO leaders led the initiative, USAID, ORT, the OSCE, World Bank, UNDP, and other international organizations played an important role in moving the process forward.

On May 1, 2001 USAID signed a new three year agreement with ICNL to carry out NGO law reform activities in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The anticipated value of the award is $4.45 million for the period May 1, 2001 to April 30, 2004. It encompasses fifteen countries with a particular emphasis on the Balkans and Croatia.

Working with our extensive network of local partners, ICNL will focus on the following issues:

  1. NGO Legislation. ICNL will continue to provide technical assistance to ensure that the legal environment appropriately supports NGO activities.
  2. Implementation Assistance. ICNL will work with judges and government officials to ensure that the law is implemented in a fair, consistent, and apolitical manner.
  3. NGO Capacity Building. ICNL will provide training and assistance to educate NGOs on opportunities and obligations arising under the law.
  4. Education. ICNL will continue to integrate NGO law into law schools throughout the region, including theory courses and clinical projects.
  5. NGO Self-Regulation. ICNL will work with local NGO representatives to development codes of conduct and other self-regulatory activities.
  6. Regional Initiatives. ICNL will continue to sponsor workshops, cross-border consultations, study tours, and research on issues of regional importance to promote the sharing of lessons learned. For the first time, USAID has also given ICNL funding to promote linkages between CEE and the countries of the former Soviet Union.
  7. Sustainability of NGO Law Reform Activities. ICNL will continue to develop the capacity of local NGO representatives, government officials, members of Parliament, and others to ensure that there is a core group of specialists capable of carrying out NGO law reform activities after the close of the project. ICNL-Budapest, which we will soon register as a Hungarian NGO, will serve as the primary support center for this network.

In addition to this agreement, USAID also announced that it will provide ICNL with a $300,000 grant to work with local partners in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary. This will be a two year project focusing on the organizational development, financial sustainability, and advocacy efforts of our local partners.

For additional information, please contact Douglas Rutzen (ICNL Vice President) at drutzen@icnl.org.