Thursday, 30 May 2013

Overal decline of democracy hampers civil society

Mr. Pavel Antonov, Executive Coordinator of and social researcher at the Open Space Research Centre, Open University, UK, spoke at the  Round table: Public policy challenges for the development of civil society, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria. Pavel Antonov spoke about self-management in the civil sector and best practices of civil participation in the implementation of laws with the help of information technologies. He gave examples of the work of the Information Network and its interaction with the Ministry of Environment and Water.

He also talked about successful initiatives implemented online, such as the platforms for reporting illegal logging in forests, urban environment problems and violations of the smoking ban in public places. The lessons learnt as a result of these platforms for public participation reaffirm the need for and benefit of cooperation between NGOs and public authorities.

Mr. Antonov concluded that seeing the civil sector as a service provider is a sign that society is forced to think in economic terms. He stressed that until government support is introduced in this field, this idea will only grow stronger. These problems are complex and are the result of the overall decline of the state of democracy. Introducing formal parameters such as an information registry of NGOs will not be enough to address these problems. Such a registry cannot compensate for the need to build on the real potential of civil society to power civil structures. Using the internet facilitates the process, but the state of civil society will only really improve once the functions of its accompanying institutions are stabilized: free media and effective civil authorities.

Click here for the original story from the Centre for the Study of Democracy.

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