ICNL and TUSEV Conduct Workshops in Turkey

15 August 2005

On July 14-15, ICNL worked with TUSEV to lead two workshops for NGO and government officials. The first workshop focused on the regulatory treatment of public benefit organizations; the second workshop explored NGO/state cooperation frameworks, specifically touching on the issue of state financing of NGOs.

This was the first time government and NGO participants came together in Turkey to jointly discuss the legal aspects of public benefit and NGO/state cooperation – two increasingly important issues, both of which require further discussion and significant reform. 25 participants attended each workshop, including NGO leaders from umbrella organizations, human rights associations, and NGOs focusing on micro-credit, education, women’s issues and poverty eradication, and key state officials from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance and Foundations Directorate.

In cooperation with TUSEV, ICNL led the two workshops in an interactive format. Throughout the workshops, participants reviewed existing Turkish law and regulation in light of international practices regarding public benefit and NGO/state cooperation. Specific themes included (1) the definition of “public benefit” and qualifying criteria, (2) the appropriate decision-making body for public benefit status, (3) the application procedures, as well as (4) tax benefits available to public benefit organizations and their donors. The second workshop focused on how to ensure the transparency of the government funding procedures, whether through grant making or the procurement process. Participants worked in small ‘break-out’ groups to consider various aspects of public benefit regulation and to develop proposed frameworks for state funding of NGOs.

The workshops were part of an ongoing process to further reform of civil society law in Turkey. According to TUSEV, the workshops were helpful “in moving forward with reforms that will encourage more viable conditions for NGOs engaging in public benefit activity, and in promoting frameworks based on good governance for NGO/state cooperation”. For more information on the workshops, please see TUSEV’s website (www.tusev.org.tr).

ICNL is grateful to the entire team at TUSEV for its support during these events and for its ongoing partnership. The workshops were made possible with the generous support of the Charities Aid Foundation and the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.