Who protects the public interest while "institutions do their job"? Gong's recommendations for improving the position of advocacy organisations in Croatia
Gong called on the Government of the Republic of Croatia to take the necessary steps to improve the position of advocacy organisations.
Without the activities of organisations that want to monitor and improve the work of institutions and the quality of public policies, there would not have been a significant increase in the number of scholarships for students of lower social status, the abolition of harmful professional training for work without establishing an employment relationship, the right to vote for those infected during the pandemic, the preservation of public space on Srđ above Dubrovnik or numerous other important social changes. We usually refer to such organisations as "advocates". They are a necessary corrective to the government in every democratic political system, just like independent media and the scientific community, for example.
"The recent examples of Hungary and Poland show what happens when some national authorities, even in countries that have previously achieved a relatively high level of democratic standards, come to the conclusion that advocacy organisations are a nuisance or even a threat," reads, among others, Gong's recommendations on developing a model of sustainability and resilience for this important part of civil society.
Gong proposes that the government and the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs more clearly define the state's relationship with the advocacy segment of civil society, which would mean developing a support model based on research, evaluations and other reliable and relevant data sources. We also believe that it is necessary to develop a "pooled fund" that would finance the advocacy work of civil society, with the state being one of the investors, but at the same time excluded from the direct management of the fund in order to protect the autonomy of advocacy organisations.
Gong's earlier analyses point to the steadily growing political and administrative pressure that is gradually turning activists into project administrators. The grandly announced European funding for organisations' advocacy work has turned into a well-documented and obvious failure, which in some areas, such as strengthening the role of associations in the fight against corruption, cannot be described as anything other than a serious fiasco (0/zero anti-corruption projects allocated to organisations from EU funds in the 2014-2020 period).
As we warned in our video, it is important for the health of democracy to support the work of advocacy organisations transparently and according to clear criteria from public funds. Why? Because they work for the public interest, for a better society and a better life for citizens in Croatia.
Funded by the European Union and the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs.