First Citizen-Initiated Public Participation Regulation Adopted in Kosovo

23 September 2002

The Municipal Assembly in Gjakova, Kosovo, recently adopted Kosovo’s first citizen-initiated public participation regulation. Its passage was the culmination of a months-long advocacy effort by local NGO leaders to ensure effective exercise of the public’s rights to attend Assembly meetings and inspect municipal documents. The regulation:

  • Requires public notice of Assembly meetings and sets out how far in advance notice must be posted; where and how notice must be given; what information must be provided regarding subjects to be discussed at the meetings; and what constitutes meaningful explanation of agenda items;
  • Establishes procedures for the public’s participation at Assembly meetings;
  • Requires notice and written justification when a meeting is closed;
  • Imposes time limits for the government’s response to a citizen’s request to inspect documents and written justification for a refusal to provide them; and
  • Establishes minimum requirements and a time frame for the government to provide information regarding the public’s right to documents and the government’s structure and functioning.

The regulation was the product of a local NGO working group, aided by technical assistance from ICNL and its local partner IKDO. The advocacy effort that led to its adoption was supported by the USAID-funded Kosovo NGO Advocacy Project (KNAP) led by East-West Management Institute. The NGO working group engaged in a multi-faceted advocacy campaign that included seeking critical support at an early stage from a key municipal official, the CEO; ensuring broad-based support from the NGO community and persuading the NGO Forum, an umbrella group of local NGOs, to submit the petition; promoting public awareness through an aggressive media campaign that included newspaper coverage, radio interviews, and a feature program on a popular public television show; and engaging in individual lobbying efforts by working group members.

The initiative was successful in several regards. First, it built substantial capacity among a group of NGO leaders in Gjakova with respect to developing legislative reform campaigns and understanding the fundamentals of participatory government. Second, it enhanced the group’s understanding of the processes and constituencies critical to a successful advocacy campaign. Third, the success of the endeavor demonstrated the potential power of NGO advocacy, not only to those involved, but others who will learn of the initiative. Finally, the regulation itself will facilitate future public participation in municipal affairs in Gjakova, and can serve as a model regulation for other municipalities.