New Council of Europe report on participation in Armenia reflects CSO Meter recommendations

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe (COE) has published a Report on Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process following its fact finding visit to Armenia in November 2019. The report reflects many of the CSO Meter Armenia report findings and recommendations.

The Conference of INGOs (CINGO) is the body representing civil society in the Council of Europe. The CINGO regularly visits Member States to get a better understanding on how cooperation between NGOs and decision makers takes place. These visits allow the CoE to analyse the effectiveness of various forms of civil society participation in the decision-making and make conclusion on CSO enabling environment in the Member States.

During its 2019 visit in Armenia, the delegation had 2 meetings with more than 50 NGOs (human and civil rights organisations, lawyers and women organisations, LGBTI groups, youth organisations, anti-corruption NGOs, volunteers’ organisations), and a number of meetings with public authorities. TIAC representatives participating at the meetings presented main recommendations from the CSO Meter Armenia report.

CINGO published its report on the official visit in June 2020. Among other information sources, the report refers to CSO Meter 2019 report. Moreover, the Recommendations section is closely connected to the CSO enabling environment recommendations identified in CSO Meter. In particular:

  • A specific strategy should be drawn up for combating hate speech, and concrete measures and tools should be implemented.
  • There is an urgent need for Armenia to ratify the Additional Protocol providing for a system of collective complaints under the European Social Charter.
  • Public authorities and NGOs should adopt a strategic roadmap to foster an enabling environment for civil society in Armenia.
  • There is a strong need to improve the tax treatment for CSO economic activities, give equal treatment to NGOs and business and improve the effectiveness and transparency of state funding.
  • In the context of disinformation, there is a need for greater support for independent NGOs which have a clear democratic structure and transparent funding.
  • In order to increase transparency and public trust and reduce polarisation, clear rules on public participation and selection criteria should be established by the Ministries, the National Assembly, Local Government and all public agencies involved in public policies.
  • Consultation should be part of a culture of dialogue and cooperation and for it to be effective, formal procedures need to be in place. NGOs and public institutions need to be responsive to each other.
  • Civil society participation in local self-government is highly prioritised in the laws, however the practical enforcement of participation needs further improvement.

CSO Meter reflects most of the issues above. Currently TIAC works to initiate a discussion on a CSO roadmap to cover these and other priorities in order to achieve a more enabling civil society environment in Armenia.