NGO Law Reform
Description of project: Brief History
Discussions on a new legal and regulatory framework affecting NGOs in the Republic of Cyprus have taken place over the past few years, and although significant progress has been made to modernise the law on Public Benefit Organizations and the law on Associations, Foundations and Clubs, much remains to be done.
The overall legislative process needs to be strengthened in order to make sure that the framework for NGOs in the Republic of Cyprus is on par with European standards and best practices from other European countries. This objective would be helped if there was a comprehensive strategy and vision on how civil society and the government can work together to create an enabling environment for civil society on the island.
Hence, the project focuses on the following objectives:
1. Provide expert review of the current draft laws and initiate a dialogue with stakeholders on their adoption.
2. Support a broad public discussion on new laws and disseminate information on the implications of the reform process.
3. Propose public policy options that facilitate the cooperation between the government and civil society and provide a strategic framework for the development of civil society.
Output 1: Greek Cypriot NGOs support the consultation process towards the adoption of new NGO Laws in the Republic of Cyprus.
Output 2: Include governmental, non-governmental and international actors in the drafting of a policy paper on how an enabling environment for civil society in Cyprus can be achieved.
Output 3: Greek Cypriot NGOs are informed and educated about new legislation.
UNDP is supporting the work of the NGO Initiative group, which is participating in the review process of the two draft laws proposed by the government. One result is that the NGO Initiative has been able to engage in an effective dialogue with government stakeholders and political parties.
The group is supported by a wide range of civil society organizations, and holds regular open consultation sessions with NGOs in order to exchange views about the legislative process. The NGO Initiative is cooperating with the European Centre for Not-for-Profit-Law and the Council of Europe, which supports their advocacy efforts with technical expertise in this field. The NGO Initiative provides comments on the revised legislation which is being drafted by the two responsible Ministries, and the consultation between these stakeholders is continuous.
A fruitful cooperation between the NGO Initiative and the Commissioner for Volunteerism and NGOS has developed under the UNDP-ACT supported initiative. This resulted in an agreement to co-author a policy paper, in cooperation with the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe, on how an enabling environment for civil society can be supported.
A study trip in Estonia was organized in October 2014 with the participation of government officials and the NGO Initiative, in support of the legislative process and the drafting of the policy paper. Estonia’s model of cooperation between civil society and the government is considered as one of the best in Europe, while the country has an exemplary legal framework for NGOs.