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Building CSO Enabling Environment in Nepal



Planning Workshop held on Building CSO Enabling Environment in Nepal On 21 and 22 February 2017, NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN) convened a two-day planning workshop on building CSO enabling environment in Nepal at Dhulikhel, Kavre. A total of 35 CSO leaders (4 females and males 31) from a wider group of non-government stakeholders such as forums, federations, coalitions, networks and alliances, including the member organizations of NFN working both at national and community level attended the workshop. Dr. Netra Prasad Timilsina, a development expert and former Chair of NFN, accompanied by Mr. Milan Dharel, a central committee member at NFN facilitated the sessions during the workshop. The event was essentially aimed at assessing and analyzing the situation of CSOs operation in the country vis-à-vis national and international legal and policy standards aligned with the values of democracy and liberalism. It then, intended to formulate advocacy plan and strategies towards broadening civic space in the changed political, legal and socio-economic milieus of the country. Overall, the idea was to figure out pertinent issues and aspects related to CSOs space in democratic polity; build on common understanding among the stakeholders; and strategize civil society movement immediately further as well as in the long run. The discussion followed a participatory approach – both in the groups and open floor discussions. Individual participants contributed to the discussions by providing their insights on CSO enabling environment based on their knowledge and experiences. The workshop proceeded in order of the three consecutive sessions: opening or start-up session, main technical session, and closing session. The opening and closing sessions were conducted formally as attended by the senior CSO leaders and human rights activists namely Mr. Charan Prasai, Mr. Gauri Pradhan, Mr. Taranath Dahal, and Mr. Subash Khatiwada. Mr. Gopal Lamsal, Chair of NFN, presided over the sessions. The technical part of the workshop comprised of sessions on (1) situation analysis, (2) stakeholders mapping, and (3) developing advocacy action plan for enabling CSO-friendly environment in Nepal. Each of these sessions followed a nuanced discussion on global and national scenario regarding CSOs status and operation. The immediate outcomes of the workshop included the following: It was conversed and apprehended that the civic space across the globe was shrinking in practice in the most recent time despite strong legal and policy provisions in place. A host of international policy instruments such as UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR, Accra Action Agenda, Busan Partnership Document, Paris Declaration, Ababa Action Agenda, 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development, Istanbul Plan of Action, and UN Charter and mechanisms have guaranteed a broader space for civil society globally. Yet, in practice, the role of civil society has been shrunk due to sustained economic recessions, religious uprisings, authoritarianism, and the protracted situation of geo-politics. In the domestic arena, the overall operational environment for civil society was believed to be restrictive; particularly, as an effect of the latest legal developments including new social welfare and development act. The political, legal, and operational environments were considered to be too fragile to promote a sustained space for civil society organizations in line with the spirit of democratic regime. The workshop entailed a session on stakeholders mapping and analysis. A wider group of government, non-government and private-sector stakeholders as well as support organizations have been identified for initiating partnership and collaboration for enabling civil society environment. A draft advocacy plan has also been formulated. A five-member working group has been formed in the lead of NFN Senior Vice-President Mr. Krishna Gautam. The other members in the team include Ms. Shanta Laxmi Shreshtha, Ms. Tika Dahal, Mr. Pranav Bhattarai, and Mr. Sanjeev Ghimire. The working group will have organized regular meetings, build on advocacy plan and take moves ahead towards widening the operational space for civil society in the country. The workshop concluded with a mission to initiate a campaign for expanding civil society space in the country; in coordination and collaboration with a wider group of stakeholders; so as to check and balance the state governance and ultimately serve the interest of people.

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