Projects in Countries and Regions
Georgia, Decembre 2020 - Decembre 2023
Civil participation in local decision-making is a vital aspect of democracy. It allows citizens to make their voices heard and influence decisions that are affecting their daily life. While participatory decision-making has emerged, and a legal framework was developed in Georgia over the past decade, awareness and implementation of the different mechanisms of participation have yet to be enhanced in the local contexts.
In this context, the Division of Elections and Civil Society (DGII) together with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, initiated a new three-year project titled "Strengthening participatory democracy and human rights at the local level in Georgia". The aim is to improve the legal framework for citizen participation, enhance existing mechanisms and to promote new tools of citizen participation together with civil society actors and local authorities in different regions of Georgia. Furthermore, capacities of local authorities and the National Association of Local Authorities (NALAG) should be strengthened to effectively integrate and implement human rights standards and practices in their policies and strategies. Local inclusion and equal opportunities for all as well as a gender perspective in local policies should be implemented to eliminate discrimination.
The Division of Elections and Civil Society Directorate of Democracy (DGII) will focus on component I – strengthening participatory democracy, whereas the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities will focus on component II – improving human rights aspects in selected municipalities in Georgia. Both components complement each other and are pillars of a well-functioning democratic society.
Ukraine, December 2018 – August 2020
Following a pilot project implemented in Kyiv, which successfully tested joint trainings of public authorities’ and civil society’s representatives in the framework of an Academy of civil participation, and created a NGOs Platform, a new project started and aims to further strengthen already established dialogue and cooperation. The new project is being implemented in Kyiv and in some other municipalities. It supports the objectives reflected in the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine for 2018 – 2021.
In order to achieve the desired impact, the project will enhance the national institutional and policy frameworks for civil society development in Ukraine, as well as the local capacity and practice of public officials and NGOs on civil participation. The project will work in close cooperation with the Cabinet of Ministers, the specialized Verhovna Rada Committee, the Kyiv City Council and districts, pilot municipalities in Ukraine, Kyiv Center of Public Communications and NGOs.
The Council of Europe’s standards and tools on civil participation will be explained and promoted, and best European practices will be collected and disseminated.
Promoting civil participation in democratic decision-making
Ukraine, August 2017 – February 2018
This project is part of the overall Council of Europe work aimed at empowering civil society and reinforcing its participation in decision-making at national and local levels. Two important concrete results were achieved:
- a pilot public participation academy to train representatives of NGOs and of the Kyiv authorities for ensuring effective participation in decision-making;
- a pilot version of a platform, including an electronic hub, for facilitating consultations and input by civil society to decision-making by the Kyiv public authorities.
The participation of both international and local experts ensured a good balance between best international practices and the specificity of the local context, notably the relevant policy priorities and challenges.
Beneficiaries and stakeholders took ownership of the project results, thus ensuring their sustainability. The Kyiv authorities and the NGO platform members signed a memorandum of co-operation aimed at building an inclusive policy-making process, developing e-democracy and enhancing public participation mechanisms. Importantly, these commitments were endorsed and included in the Kyiv Action Plan for 2018 on the implementation of the National Strategy for Civil Society Development in Ukraine.
The highly positive feedback regarding the Academy and the Platform is a strong indication that the model can be applied to other municipalities in Ukraine, at the national level and, with some adaptation, in other Council of Europe member states.
Civil society dialogue
Azerbaijan, March 2016 to February 2018 (extended to August 2018)
This European Union and Council of Europe joint project’s main objective is to gradually move NGO-related legislation and practice in Azerbaijan closer to Council of Europe standards. It also aims to strengthen the capacity of NGOs and of the public authorities for consultation, dialogue and co-operation.
With the help of local experts and of the Expert Council on NGO Law of the Council of Europe Conference of International Non-governmental Organisations, the legislative framework for NGOs is analysed in detail and improvements are proposed. Training is provided to the public authorities in charge of registering NGOs and implementing the NGO-related legislation. Finally, a handbook on civil participation and good governance was prepared to use for training representatives of NGOs and of the authorities, with the long-term objective of creating a culture of participation.
Civil participation in decision-making in the Eastern Partnership countries
Regional project*, December 2015 - June 2017
The project reinforced regional co-operation between civil society and the authorities in the six countries to improve the environment for the functioning of NGOs, create mechanisms for their active participation in democratic decision-making and promote a culture of civil participation. Extensive research and analysis of existing laws and policies were conducted and generated important practical knowledge highlighting the most effective mechanisms for interaction and consultation between the authorities and civil society. An informal multi-stakeholder network was established at regional level aimed at seeking solutions for shared or similar problems, with the input and combined leverage of both public authorities and NGOs.
Two reports and a strategic document were produced:
- Civil Participation in Decision Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries Part I: Laws and Policies
- Civil Participation in Decision Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries Part II: Practice and Implementation
- Measures for Strategic Development of Civil Participation in Decision Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries
*Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine
Immediate Measures Package - Civil Society Component
Ukraine, April – December 2014
The project is part of a long-term Council of Europe effort to institutionalise the effective participation of civil society in decision-making processes and make it sustainable. An analytical study titled “Forms of Public Participation in the Process of Development and Approval of Political Decisions in Ukraine” was conducted to serve as a basis for further work on promoting an enabling environment for NGOs.
Assistance, including study visits to Latvia and the Netherlands, was provided to the State Registration Service (SRS) of Ukraine in its efforts to streamline and simplify the registration procedures for civil society organisations. The knowledge gained by the SRS was then used in drafting amendments to the relevant Ukrainian legislation.
A comprehensive evaluation of the co-operation in the second half of 2014 between the authorities and civil society was conducted with all stakeholders - civil society activists from Kyiv and the regions of Ukraine, representatives of the authorities (Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Administration of the President of Ukraine, Secretariat of the Parliament of Ukraine) and the international community. On the basis of subsequent public consultations and discussions, a comprehensive document “Strategic Priorities for Promoting Civil Participation in Decision-Making in Ukraine” was adopted as a basis for further work.