New Capacity Development Trend for Civil Society Needed in Turkey to Promote Rights-Based Approach and Democratic Principles

On 9 July 2020, EU TACSO 3 conducted an on-line consultation and validation meeting with representatives of 20 CSOs, public institutions and other stakeholders on the Needs Assessment Turkey Country Brief. The meeting was organised to enable feedback of relevant actors to the recently conducted analysis by EU TACSO 3 presented in the Report on the Assessment on the State of the Enabling Environment and Capacities of Civil Society against the Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in Enlargement region, 2014-2020 for the period 2018-2019 (Regional Needs Assessment Report), of which  the Executive Summary is already publicly available.

During the meeting, stakeholders expressed the urgent need for a new capacity development trend that should contribute to the democratic organisation of CSOs as well as external democracy, and the need for putting more emphasis on rights-based approach and evidence-based advocacy. It was pointed out that the legal framework for volunteerism should be developed without discriminating against CSOs by adopting a participatory approach, which should facilitate rather than regulate volunteerism. Stakeholders shared their concerns regarding highly deteriorated trust and cooperation between public sector and civil society that should be urgently reconstructed after the state of emergency in Turkey.

The participants made the following recommendations:

-Address the importance of supporting human rights networks, who are providing grants and capacity development support through sub-granting projects to CSOs;

-The use of the term “conducive legal environment” that is used in the Regional Needs Assessment Report should be reconsidered from the perspective of “enabling environment” for civil society, where “rule of law” in Turkey is significantly deteriorated;

-Strengthen capacities of CSOs to develop better advocacy activities and internalise an inclusive approach when reaching out to their target group;

-Consider lack of legal literacy, lack of gender and youth perspective in local CSOs, while preparing capacity development activities;

-The Commissions should consider dedicating specific budget items under EU funded projects for covering the costs of insurance for volunteers;

-Develop a platform for discussing relevant legal framework for volunteerism;

-Address the projects developed within the scope of 11th Development Plan, 2020 Annual Investment Plan of Directorate of Strategy and Budget of the Presidency, in terms of raising awareness on civil society, strengthening organised civil society, development of relevant mechanisms for effective participation in decision-making and fostering volunteerism.

This validation session was the last one in the series of similar sessions organised in all IPA Beneficiary countries. Including the participants in Turkey, the validation and consultation sessions have included at least 381 representatives of CSOs, public and EU institutions as well as other stakeholders. Inputs from all stakeholders will be taken into account and included in the final version of the full Regional Needs Assessment Report, which will be published soon on EU TACSO 3 website, including regional overview and all seven country briefs.