Declaration on Developing a Civil Society and Cooperating with Nongovernmental Organizations

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DECLARATION
on Developing a Civil Society in Latvia
and Cooperating with Nongovernmental Organizations

Because a civil society is important to the sustainable development of the state
and its people and because nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) affect the quality
of decisions adopted by the Saeima, it is necessary to expand the cooperation between
NGOs and the Saeima, to promote the development of a civil society and to improve
the working environment of NGOs. The Saeima’s cooperation with NGOs forms a
closer relationship between legislators, on the one hand, and society an
d the
individual, on the other hand. By coopera ting with each other, the Saeima and NGOs
aim to become successful partners in undergirding a civil society and in its
involvement in the legislative process.

Goal of the Declaration
The goal of this Declaration is to ensu re, on the basis of mutual understanding
and support, the development of a civil soci ety in Latvia, to improve the cooperation
between the Saeima and NGOs and to emphasi ze the important function of NGOs in a
democratic state.

Principles of cooperation
The Saeima urges society to form associa tions to have its interests represented
by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Associations and
Foundations Law and by actively participating in decision making on the local,
national and international level. NGOs, as an organized part of civil society, make
that possible because they serve the intere sts of broad social groups, not narrow
commercial interests or the interests of political parties or associations.

The Saeima regards NGOs as equal partners, and it acknowledges that the
participation of NGOs contributes significan tly to the process of initiating, preparing
and evaluating legislation. By improving the accessibility of information and by
using the research results of NVO experts, the Saeima ensures the quality of the laws
it adopts. In its cooperati on, the Saeima and NGOs obser ve the principles of
sustainability and continuity. The Saeima ensures openness and transparency in
establishing this cooperation, and it o ffers equal opportunities to all NGOs. The
Saeima does not support activ ities that result in fertile ground for corruption or
conflict of interest or that give rise to su spicion of corruption or conflict of interest.
The Saeima supports NGOs by working out legal norms that promote a favorable
environment for the development of a civil society and NGOs. In order to strengthen
civil society and to promote the participati on of NGOs, the best practices of national
and international organizations are used.

The Saeima regards that the following measures are essential:
1) to promote the creation of the necessa ry legal environment for developing
and strengthening a civil society and for the activities of NGOs; this
environment includes a favorable financial and budgetary policy;
2) to especially support the involvem ent of regional NGOs in decision
making and, together with these orga nizations, to develop mechanisms for
promoting their participation on the regional and national level;

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3) to especially support the formati on of NGO cooperation networks and
NGO activities in developing a civil soci ety, as well as in other areas that
benefit society.

The Saeima decides the following :
1) to regularly evaluate the cooperati on between the Saeima and NGOs and
to promote the sharing of experience by committees of the Saeima, thereby
facilitating the formation of a unified method for involving NGOs in the
process of preparing legislation;
2) to ensure that the Saeima as a whol e and each committee of the Saeima has
a coordinator for cooperation with NGOs;
3) to constantly improve the Saeima home page and other mechanisms in
order to inform NGOs and society a bout the work of the Saeima and its
committees and to promote the awaren ess of NGOs about opportunities to
participate in the process of preparing legislation;
4) to involve, in accordance with a specific procedure, representatives from
NGOs in the work of Saeima committees, as well as to listen to the
viewpoints and recommendations of NGOs and society concerning issues
that are within the relevant committee’s sphere of competence;
5) to arrange, in accordance with a sp ecific procedure, the review of
proposals for improving draft la ws or draft resolutions;
6) to arrange a meeting at least once a y ear of the Saeima leadership, Saeima
committee chairmen and NGO representatives—a forum in which to
evaluate the results of cooperation a nd to work out a program for future
cooperation;
7) to encourage the forum to establish a cooperation institution whose goal is
to manage and coordinate the cooperation between the Saeima and NGOs,
to compile and review recommendations for developing a civil society and
for improving cooperation between the Saeima and NGOs.

Speaker of the Saeima: Ingr īda Ūdre

Rīga, 30 March 2006

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