On May 19, 2016 one of the partner organizations in ACTION SEE project, Center for research, transparency and accountability – CRTA, Srbija gathered its local partner civil society organizations (CSO) and local self-government representatives at the inception workshop in Belgrade to discuss issues and challenges to the rule of law, good governance and public administration reform. Participants included CSOs from Prijepolje, Nis, Gornji Milanovac, Loznica, Prokuplje, Valjevo, Zrenjanin, Trstenik, as well as the representatives from the Youth Office Trestenik and Prijepolje local self-government.
Engaged in advocacy for higher transparency, accountability and openness in decision making and budgeting in their local communities, partner CSO representatives shared information and exchanged experiences in dealing with public administration and local government institutions.
The general conclusion of CSO partners referred to the lack of openness of public administration to the initiatives of civil society, due to the extremely low understanding of the benefits of civic participation in decision making from the side of local authorities. As the good practice example, representative of the partner CSO Jerinin grad and the Youth Office from Trastenik shared that their fruitful partnership, collaboration and joint efforts directly contributed to the local budget allocations to the Youth Office.
Reflecting on the changes in local government structure following the most recent local elections in Serbia, participants also emphasized the lack of institutional memory as one of the main challenges to further reforms. Consequently, contacts and partnerships established with local authorities in the previous period could be jeopardized with the establishment of newly elected governments, which also brings the importance and value of civil society initiatives in influencing and supporting true institutional changes towards more open and accountable governance in the long term.
Participants also discussed the lack of capacities of grassroots to effectively approach institutions and public officials within their advocacy initiatives, and the importance of support to capacity development of local civil society actors. In line with this conclusion, CRTA announced the capacity building activities and support to local organizations that will be provided within its regional ACTION SEE initiative.
ACTION SEE – Accountability, Technology and Institutional Openness Network in SEE project is implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation, in partnership with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy from Great Britain, Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA) from Serbia, Citizens Association Why not? from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) from Montenegro, Open Data Kosovo (ODK) from Kosovo and Levizja Mjaft! from Albania.
The project’s aim is to increase the inclusion of civil society and media organizations in creating public opinion, the policy creation process and in the participation in the mechanisms of the decision-making processes as well as to raise the capacity of civil societies to address sensitive issues.
This project is implemented with the financial support of the European Union.