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Consultation on CSOs Laws,

NGO Federation of Nepal organized a "consultation on CSOs law, Position paper and NGOs roadmap" on 7 June 2018, in Kathmandu. The consultation was facilitated with the sharing and discussion among the participants and representatives from different federation, CSOs coalition network, prominent civil society leaders as well as NFN's central executive members and members of advisory committee. The total numbers of participants were 50 which comprises of 32-male, 15- female and 3- others.

Last month NFN had convened Civil Society Conferences in all seven provinces. NFN  representative shared and discussed on draft Province social development act, joint position paper and NGO roadmap and collated suggestion and feedback regarding the same from CSOs, networks, alliances and other stakeholders to integrate their suggestion for finalizing the documents. So, the major objective of the consultation was to share suggestion and feedback provided from Province Civil Society Conferences in order to develop final document of joint position paper and NGO roadmap.

Proceedings:

As outlined prior, the event was conducted through three main sessions. The session was chaired by Mr. Gopal Lamsal, Chairman of NGO Federation of Nepal.  And Ms. Parbata Acharya, Vice Chairperson of NFN begins with opening remark and underlining introduction and objective of the program.

The second session was presented by Mr. Daya Sagar Shrestha, Executive Director of NFN shared suggestion and feedback on CSOs law, joint position paper and roadmap collated from all Province Civil Society Conferences. The third session was sharing and discussion from participants representing different federation such as NECEON, DNF and others Human Right Alliance, Samjhauta Nepal, Transparency International JuRI Nepal and others.  The whole session was moderated by Mrs. Bishnu Thakali, Secretary of NFN.

The three and half hour consultation provides  participants ample room for discussing and sharing meticulous list of concerns, issues, challenges, problems, complaints, comments, suggestions and feedback. The discussion has led CSOs to develop civic charter and implementation of code of conduct and focusing on strengthening internal governance immediately in order to  carrying out advocacy interventions towards ensuring execution of  citizen rights to freedom of association, opinions and expressions in the country for  building CSOs enabling environment. During concluding session Mr Charan Prasain, Mr. Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Mr. Navaraj Gelal Spoke person of Association of District Coordination Committees Nepal and Mr. Rajendra Pyakurel, programme officer of National Association of Rural Municipalities Nepal (NARMIN) shared their views and provided remarks on joint position paper and NGO roadmap.

 Some of the suggestions and concerns shared by participants are : 

  • If we ignore addressing foreign aid management policy then it might leads to CSOs identity crisis.
  • Government agencies are lacking on monitoring and evaluation of CSOs.
  •  There should be one door system for functioning of CSOs.
  • There is a complexity on understanding the legal and operational issues based on federal and local set up.
  • There is an urgent need for the formation of NGO laws. Through which CSOs could able to tackle bureaucratic hurdles, lobbying with concerned Ministries and authorities would be easier.
  • CSOs should develop their own integrity policy rather than government.
  • CSOs need to focus on self-governance in order to mend the public understanding and opinion regarding CSOs.
  • The Association Registration Act 2034 BS is outdated in today's time so it should be reviewed and update according to present development structure.
  • The identity and role of Social Development Council is questionable so NFN with others CSOs leaders are lobby to revoke the council or reformed its structure.
  • There should be functioning social development council for monitoring and evaluation of CSOs.
  • CSOs should be monitored but not controlled. And Government should develop cohesive agenda for monitoring and evaluation for rewarding or punishing the CSOs.
  • CSOs should focus on implementation of code of conduct and strengthening internal governance for making oneself accountable and transparent.
  • Like citizenship there should be a provision of recognizing CSOs registered in district administrative office.
  • The yearly renewal process is very complex so if there could be provision of renewal in 5 years.

Every participant agreed that this is very crucial period for all CSOs in order to fight for their position. All three governments are on the verse of developing laws and this is the time CSOs need to have documents (such as joint position paper, roadmap and CSOs/NGOs laws) supporting the CSOs vision and having CSOs friendly policies, act, rules and regulation in local, province and center level.

Conclusion

The consultation was concluded by sharing how CSOs movement was imperative for every political development. Some groups are trying to diminishing the role of CSOs but this is the time when we need to lobby and strive for recognizing our contribution. Some of the representatives of local government are not CSOs friendly but we need to have frequent dialogue to make them comprehend our position and contribution towards society at large. So, it is imperative for CSOs to cooperate with local government.  All participants were also asked to send their suggestion enlisted so NFN will combine and put forward when having dialogue with government bodies.

The chairman of NFN concluded the session sharing the information regarding formation of task group comprises of prominent leaders of CSOs, members from CSOs network alliance who will work to develop civic charter for civil society sector as a means of self-regulation. He further added that in subsequent coalition meeting the task group will be formed