Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM)
Rr. Shenasi, Dishnica, Nr. 1
Tel.: +355 4 240 0241
IDM’s mission is to strengthen the Albanian civil society, community engagement and citizens participation in decision making, to assist the EU accession and development process in the country, and to help consolidation of good governance, accountability of institutions and inclusive policy making. IDM carries on its objectives through policy analysis, applied research, as well as through offering technical assistance, building capacities of key societal actors and developing partnerships.
Civil Society in Albania
The CIVICUS Civil Society Index for Albania (2010), an action-oriented and participatory assessment tool, suggests that the Albanian third sector is moderately developed and operates in a relatively enabling environment, with functional internal structures, networking potential and highly knowledgeable human resources. Yet, it concludes that a largely donor-driven civil society that is detached from citizens’ priorities and “served” by moderate level of dialogue with decision-makers, faces significant challenges over its impact, public skepticism towards participatory mechanisms and towards the role of the third sector itself. According to the USAID’s CSO Sustainability Index (CSO SI), the need for a “development-oriented” strategy for civil society remains unaddressed by key actors – the state, donors and civil society. All three stakeholders are yet to leap out from the “funding discourse trap” and look closer at “enabling environment”, “citizens’ priorities” and “civic activism”. Recommendations of the Civil Society Index 2010 defined the path to sustained civil society development in the country as a journey of three – civil society, state and donors.
Challenges to ensure an enabling environment for civil society development, sustainability and impact remain pressing. Public demand for more accountable, transparent, and effective government can only be met by creating mechanisms for participation and involvement. Capitalizing on such momentum, a first concrete step was taken in December 2013, with civil society and Government embarking on a joint agenda to address key concerns in three areas, as follows:
- CSOs’ involvement in policy and decision making, and the state support in this process;
- Support of civil society through an enabling legal framework; and
- Civil society as a social partner of state in providing services for citizens and public institutions.
Albeit with some delay, the first results were delivered in autumn 2014 with the adoption of legislation on access to information and public consultations. Additionally, the legal framework for the National Council of cooperation between the government and civil society has been drafted and is undergoing consultations with CSOs (as of early 2015). More vigorous efforts are needed to address other pressing concerns such as the fiscal legislation, financial monitoring and reporting, social enterprises, CSOs services, reforming the State Agency for Civil Society Support, developing local resources, CSOs infrastructure etc.
The implementation of the country’s commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed that civil society has a potential to add value to such processes. Yet, the involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the national development discourse remains fragmented and sporadic. Currently Albanian CSOs are actively involved in the “political criteria” related issues in the context of country’s EU accession. In spite of being a country aspiring European Union (EU) Membership, the “European Consensus on Development“ remains a low-profile topic for most civil society actors and other interest groups, although they have been actively engaged on all three areas of the initiative nationally.
Civil society’s involvement brings higher quality of policy making processes and efforts of policy stakeholders, including donors and state actors. As development education and global development issues significantly rely on civil society capacities, resources and contribution, it is essential to streamline efforts of the Albanian third sector in such agenda.
Civil Society Index for Albania: In search of citizens and impact (IDM, 2010) here.