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Global Forum 2011

Stockholm, Sweden | August 21-23, 2011

Global Forum 2011 > Agenda > Announcements and Materials

Civil Society Agora Sessions

The Agora (Greek: Άγορά, Agorá) was an open “place of assembly” in ancient Greek city-states, which served a variety of community functions; individuals could assemble, listen, and discuss. At the Civil Society Law Agora, participants will have an opportunity to organize their own informal discussions on topics and regions of interest. Announced sessions are listed below. To organize a session on a topic that is not listed below, please contact Global Forum staff at the registration desk.


Capacity Building for CSOs

Discussion leader: Uttam Uprety, Professional Training, ELD Training, Nepal
Capacity Building of Civil Society Organizations has remained a fascinating terms for many development organizations including aid agencies since long time. Moreover, various approaches guided the efforts made in this regard with range of success and failure cases. Consequently, this sector also saw many criticisms from different corners of the society. Despite the success story of remarkable social changes that CSOs with built capacity made possible, there are large number of CSOs that need to increase their organizational capacity in order to deliver maximum results. In this regard, the discussion on 'Capacity Building of Civil Society Organizations' will give CSO leaders from various parts of the world a forum to share their experiences, challenges they have faced and way forward to build the CSO capacity. The session is designed to make it participatory where range of experiences will be explored and synthesized and cross-learning will be promoted.


Democratic Accountability and Citizen Engagement: An Endeavor Toward CSO Governance

Discussion leader: Aroma Dutta, Executive Director, PRIP Trust and Member, National Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh

One of the fundamental tenants of democracy is "active citizenship" - a form of citizenship with rights and obligations not only conferred by the democratic state, but also practiced by the citizens. Democratic local governance assumes an engaged citizenry which demand transparency and accountability from the local governance institutions and the latter reciprocate by responding to such demands in many Asian Countries. The institutions of local governance are non transparent, unaccountable, nonresponsive and do not provide space for citizen participation.

To improve democratic practices in local governance institutions through social accountability, and to improve basic services to the marginalized and vulnerable people has become essential. Therefore it is essential to address the deficits of democratic practices, particularly participation, transparency and accountability mechanism. The lack of these mechanisms compromises the delivery of services effectively and equitably. Organized civic action and participation through mobilization, capacity building campaigns and participatory monitoring ensures accountability which enhance citizens' involvement horizontally and vertically. Engagement of Civil Society Organizations (CSO's) in the process is also crucial. The national and international development organizations, association, forums, citizen network and individuals have made great contribution to influence policy processes and created synergies between state and civil society. But the challenge remains that there is still a gap of formal partnership to address the issue of social accountability. It is also necessary to institutionalize good governance practices within the CSOs. It is an emerging and a burning issue for responding to the basic requirements of all citizens.


Latin America Regional Meeting

Discussion leader: Jocelyn Nieva, Legal Advisor, ICNL
Global Forum participants from Latin America are invited to discuss new developments related to civil society law in their countries, regional trends, and opportunities to collaborate towards more enabling legal environments. Participants are invited to bring to the meeting copies of publications, declarations, draft legislation, etc., which have proven effective in national efforts to defend legal space for civil society. Please note that the meeting will be conducted in Spanish.


Middle East/North Africa Network Meeting

Discussion leaders: ICNL Middle East/North Africa team
The world's attention has been captured by the historic events that continue to unfold in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In a region where civil and political rights have long been restricted, youth protest movements have sparked new hope for democratic reform and the removal of restrictions on the rights of association, assembly, and other fundamental freedoms. How can international and regional civil society organizations support democratic transition and promote the expansion of an enabling legal environment for civil society in the Middle East? What role can ICNL and regional allies play in building and strengthening an “Arab Freedom of Association Network”? Join this interactive discussion to contribute your ideas.


NGO Law and Civil Society in Cambodia: A Step Back

Discussion leader: Borithy Lun, Executive Director, Cooperation Committee for Cambodia
As of August 2011, the Law on Associations and NGOs is dangerously close to being passed in Cambodia. Set as a priority for the government in 2008 after winning a strong majority, the draft law is expected to stifle civil society and represents a step back for rights of association and democratic freedoms in Cambodia. Containing strict and complicated mandatory registration, vague terminology, as well as a limited appeals process, the law is poised to give far reaching power to government authorities to sanction organizations. Recent suspensions of CSOs indicate how this law will be utilized to silence voices of those working with marginalized groups. The potential impact on the development of Cambodia could be far reaching with some donors already expressing worry over their investments in a civil society limited by such a law.


What are the Legal Protection and Practice of Providing Tangible Benefits to Organizations with a Public Benefit Status?

Discussion leader: Petr Pajas, Program Manager, Policy Association for an Open Society

In the Czech Republic there is currently under Parliament scrutiny the Bill on Civil Code, which represents a complex change in many fields effecting the civil society. It also introduces the public benefit status as a registered statutory feature of any legal entity that is engaged in public benefit activities upon binding regulation of the use of any profit for further development of the capacities supporting these activities on one side and prepared to provide highly transparent accounting on all its activities and economy. Inclusion of the status into the Bill resulted from long term efforts of some civil society activists. However, there is also a significant part of the CSOs, who are opposing the Bill, being afraid of its possible effect of dividing the civil society sector. The challenge of the issue is: how to use the public benefit status for improving the position of donors, who might and even are expected to replace the state in providing sufficient support to public benefit activities enabling their long term sustainability. Also, some existing regulations prevent certain social enterprises (e.g. the postnatal assistance to children born with deficiencies) to provide their services for charge to those willing to pay for them under the pretext that they are state subsidized and the governing regulation prevent them to accept any kind of fees or payments. Therefore, the questions are:  how are these problems being solved in other countries and how is regulated the social enterprise, as well as what kind of benefits is extended by laws and regulations to the donors enabling sustainable existence of entities with the recognized public benefit status.