Involving NGOs in lawmaking is the important component of the democratic decision-making process.
The government – civil society cooperation helps citizens to advocate their interests, exchange information and ideas, ensure public support for political decisions and initiatives, achieve mutual understanding and build a spirit of co-operation.
The level of involving NGOs in policy making process in Ukraine and Kosovo is mostly similar. But in Kosovo citizens have the possibility to initiate the legislation and kosovar NGOs have success practice of using this legislative initiative.
This policy brief focused on the research this success practice and considering of the possibility to use it in Ukraine. This is the question of current interest for Ukraine, because the impact NGO on the lawmaking is rather limited, especially on the local level. The majorities of the Municipal Charters in Ukraine contain the difficult procedure of the local initiative, for example, citizens need to collect from 5.000 to 20.000 signs for providing the local initiative.
Situation in Ukrainian and Kosovar NGO participation in lawmaking
The Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index, which reports on the strength and overall viability of NGO, shows the growing advocacy capacity of the Ukrainian and Kosovar CSO during last two years.
The index is built on the expert assess of the sustainability of each country’s NSO sector. The Index measures the sustainability of each country’s CSO sector based on the CSOSI’s seven dimensions: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, infrastructure, and public image. These characteristics are clustered into three basic stages: Sustainability Enhanced, Sustainability Evolving, and Sustainability Impeded. The Sustainability Enhanced stage being the highest level of sustainability and development, corresponds to a score between 1 and 3 points; the Sustainability Evolving stage corresponds to a score between 3.1 and 5 points; and the lowest level of development, the Sustainability Impeded stage, corresponds to a score of 5.1 to 7 points on the scale.
In 2014 Ukrainian NGO took 2.2 scores for advocacy and engagement in policy making (in 2013 – 2.5, in 2012 -3.5), Kosovo took 3.6 (in 2013 – 3.7, in 2012 -3.6). In 2014 in that index the highest scores for advocacy took Poland – 1.6, Estonia – 1.8, Latvia – 1.9, Czech Republic – 2.0.
During last two years we can see some positive and perspective cooperation initiatives, which show the success of the NGO-authorities cooperation practice in Ukraine and Kosovo. It should be mentioned the RPR initiative in Ukraine – the experts of the RPR have developed or amended 59 draft laws, and CivKos Platform in Kosovo – the experts of the platform work in cooperation with the central and local authorities, platform has the branches in 5 municipalities.
But NGO impact on lawmaking in Ukraine and Kosovo is still situational and not enough developed.
The Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process defines the next gradation of the participation levels: Information, Consultation, Dialog, and Partnership. If we use this evaluation systems for considering the problem of the NGOs involving in lawmaking process in Ukraine and Kosovo, we can state, that the interaction between government and civil society still has set the place between the Information and Consultation stages.
Low level of participation is caused by the three common problems in participatory democracy models in both countries:
- Imperfect legal framework for NGO involvement in decision-making;
- The unwillingness of the public bodies to build cooperation with the NGOs at the regular basis, as a result – existing legal participatory democracy instruments are not properly functionalized;
- Citizens don’t have information about current forms of involving in policy making.
Policy brief was prepared during the internship in GAP Institute (Pristine, Kosovo)