NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN) accomplished coordination and courtesy meeting with the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) on 4th September 2017, at its office premises located at Buddhaagar, Kathmandu. The bilateral meeting was attended by newly elected executives of the FNJ, NFN advisors and central executive committee members, including some media persons favoring civil society organizations and their mission activities. Altogether 30 participants (male – 22, female – 8) were present in the event.
NFN organized the meeting with an aim to establishing and fostering effective functional relationships between CSOs and media as part of its campaign for building CSOs enabling environment in Nepal. As planned, the event was a success in identifying, discussing and agreeing on the possible areas of future collaborations and partnerships between NFN, and FNJ – the two leading coalitions of NGOs and working journalists in the country.
The meeting, despite being conducted in an informal manner, was chaired by Mr. Gopal Lamsal - NFN President, and moderated by Mr. Milan Shrestha - Secretary General of the organization. The proceedings of the event began with the welcoming remarks and highlights on the objectives as delivered shortly by the moderator himself. Meanwhile, NFN Chair and Advisors together, by wrapping shawls, felicitated the executives of the FNJ central committee recently elected through its 25th Annual General Convention and wished them the best for their successful tenure that will last for 3 consecutive years to come.
Following the felicitation moment, Mr. Subodh Raj Pyakurel – NFN Advisor, and Mr. Govinda Acharya – President of the FNJ, delivered their key-note remarks. Mr. Pyakurel outlined his speech highlighting on the protracted situation of tensions among CSOs, media and the Government of Nepal, and the need to build effective working relationships between CSOs and media in the changed political landscape for the sake of strengthening and institutionalizing democracy in the country. He opined that the country was experiencing functional anarchism, policy corruptions, and bureaucratic ineffectiveness owing to the excessive hegemony of the Executive. "The principle of separation of powers has been put into question as the Judiciary and Legislative Mechanisms too are under the shadow of the Executive. So, in such a circumstance, the intent of the Nepalese state, for sure, is to harass the CSOs first, and the media then, putting them at risk to operate freely, as observed in the oppressive political regimes elsewhere globally", he added. On top of this, Mr. Pyakurel called for an action to advance collaboration between NFN and FNJ, including entire media community, towards expanding CSOs space in the country in this most critical juncture of the historical time-structure. Further, he emphasized, it should start from restructuring of the Social Welfare Council that is almost defunct and repressive to CSOs in contrary to its roles and mandates.
Then, Mr. Govinda Acharya – President of the FNJ, opined that the first and foremost agenda of his organization was ever to fight for democracy. The spirit of democracy and the second utmost priority of the FNJ as he interpreted included freedom of press, safety and security of the journalists as well as engagement in civic movements. "As I had an opportunity to work with the Government (as press advisor to the Prime Minister) earlier, I came to know that the political leaders, parliamentarians, and bureaucrats were not very much positive to the media and CSOs" he said. Yet, he indicatively argued that it was partly because of the drawbacks of media and CSOs too, that provided breeding ground for building negative public image towards them. Mr. Acharya further said, NFN and FNJ being federated organizations representing two different sectors, they certainly had limitations to come to a common platform each time, yet there were numerous issues and areas of constructive engagement between them. On this note, he expressed the consensus and appealed to NFN to start with and foster a long-term collaborative approach for building CSOs enabling environment.
At the end, Mr. Gopal Lamsal – President of NF, as part of his concluding remarks opined that there were quite a number of issues and areas where NFN and FNJ, including entire media community, could work together especially in the changed political milieu of the country. These included joint advocacy, lobby and constructive engagement with the Government, capacity building of civil society organizations, media and local government representatives, awareness raising campaigns, cultural campaigns on evil practices, planning discussions with local government bodies, among many other efforts related development, civic rights and campaigns. Mr. President highlighted on the need to think on how NFN and FNJ could work in collaboration for the longer period of time ahead.
The meeting was adjourned as the duo organizations broadly agreed to have persistent collaborations in the future. However, it was discussed and decided to have similar meetings in near future to discuss on how such collaborations would be initiated and prolonged.