Institute for law and civil society

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Наша миссия: содействие правовому развитию и укреплению гражданского общества в Приднестровье, путем развития программ социального партнерства и гражданских инициатив.

Report NGO sector

ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION AND STRATEGY OF CIVIL SOCIETY DEVELOPMENT IN TRANSDNIESTRIA

 1.     The role of NGOs in modern society 

The role of NGOs in modern society is difficult to overestimate. Experience of many countries in the world shows that the process of civil society development proportionally depends on the participation of the public, on the level of people’s sense of justice and their capacity to implement one of the fundamental human rights – the right to association, the right to set up public associations and to join them in order to protect their interests.

The world practice shows that in the countries with developed democratic traditions public opinions are largely expressed by non-state public associations, which attract the attention of the public and the state to the unresolved social problems not only by words, but also by actions. As a rule, public associations (NGOs) fill in those niches of activities related to providing social services, which do not fall within the attention of the state and commercial structures. The state is simply not in the position to reach out to each person individually and to solve his/her specific problems, and commercial structures cannot behave simply as charitable organizations and be engaged in acts that do not bring profit. In developed democratic countries, the state and commercial structures see in NGOs equal partners, capable of preventing social conflicts and reducing social tensions in the society, and they found forms and methods to cooperate with them. Therefore, the third sector represents a kind of supplement to the state’s policy in the field of civil society.

 

 2.     The methodology of the research

Transdniestrian NGOs represent quite an interesting and ambiguous subject for the research. In some cases different information about the situation of the civil society in Transdniestria, which was not confirmed by facts, and unofficial statistics about NGOs resulted in contradictory reports and non-systematic researches in this area.

Since 2002, the NGO “Institute of Law and Civil Society” (furthermore Institute) has been actively working and supporting the legal development and strengthening of civil society in Transdniestria, by developing social partnership programs and civic initiatives. In the period from 1 June to 31 December 2012, Institute implemented the project:Supporting Human Rights Awareness and Civil Society Development in Transdniestria” with financial support of the OSCE Mission to Moldova.

Apart from the human rights work, the following activities have also been conducted within this project:

  • 4 round-tables in the cities of Tiraspol, Bender, Ribnita and Dubasari, where participants discussed the situation, difficulties and perspectives of development of the NGO sector. A total number of 94 persons, working in the NGO sector, participated in these round-tables;  
  • Additionally, 29 NGO leaders, 83 members of NGOs and initiative groups, 7 state officials were questioned and interviewed;
  • Legal assistance concerning registration of NGOs was offered to 12 initiative groups;
  • Also, additionally, 120 persons not working in the NGO field were questioned with the assistance of the Institute’s volunteers. Questions raised concerned the condition of the public activity and of the third sector;
  • Local legislation in the field of NGOs was also analyzed;
  • The official statistics have been collected and scientific literature related to Transdniestrian NGOs was analyzed.

Therefore, in the framework of this project, the Institute elaborated present report on the situation of NGO sector in Transdniestria, based on the activities carried out and on the analytical and empirical research conducted.

Present report was prepared based on the statements of representatives of NGOs from the region, as well as on the analysis of various documents. It has to be noted that there are very little informational sources and statistical data available about the civil society on the left bank of Dniester river. Therefore, some conclusions of this report may be subjective and be based only on the opinions of participants of the meetings and expert opinions.

Present report uses the terminology of “public associations” and “non-governmental organizations (NGOs)”, which, as a matter of fact, are synonyms.

At the same time, these definitions encompass the whole list of organizational-legal forms of non-profit organizations (public organizations, funds, non-profit partnerships, independent non-profit organizations, institutions, associations of legal entities (associations and unions)) and public associations (public organizations, social movements, public funds, public institutions, bodies of public self-administration). These types of associations are of non-profit and non-political nature. Their founders are non-state structures. This report did not include political organizations, despite the fact that they are listed in the organizational - legal form of public associations, but are regulated additionally by separate local legislation. 

 3.     Statistics concerning Transdniestrian NGOs

Lately, Transdniestrian official sources have been regularly reporting on the increase in the number of public organizations in the region. As of today, local justice authorities registered 3792 non-governmental organizations (different organizational – legal forms of public associations and non-profit organizations). Despite of the decrease in the number of population in the left-bank Moldova (the last census conducted in Transdniestria showed a decrease in the number of population from 750 thousand to 550 thousand persons) – the number of public associations is sharply increasing. Therefore, according to the data of the State Registration and Notary Service, in 2001, a number of 1020 organizations were registered in Transdniestria, in summer of 2003 – 1325 NGOs, at the end of 2005 – 1570 NGOs, and 3792 NGOs were registered already in 2012. Certainly, the de-facto difference between the officially registered organizations and organizations that are actually functioning is great. Referring to the results of some sociological researches[*1], the number of functioning NGOs decreases to 20 percent, therefore about 80% of NGOs exist only on paper.

       During the analysis conducted and on the basis of data received from the state registry concerning registration of public associations and non-profit organizations, it is possible to create the table of registration and development of some types (organizational-legal forms) of NGOs in Transdniestria[*2]:

 

Year

Public organization

Public movement

Public fund

Public institution

Non-profit partnership

Independent non-profit organization  

Union of legal entities

1992

10

3

0

0

0

0

2

1993

30

11

7

5

1

0

6

1994

46

15

9

7

3

3

7

1995

53

17

11

9

5

6

9

1996

69

26

19

13

7

9

15

1997

95

37

29

20

14

13

21

1998

118

49

38

32

23

28

35

1999

127

62

47

41

37

43

48

2000

175

83

74

73

69

64

80

2001

255

138

136

114

105

93

147

2002

327

162

150

149

148

139

162

2003

365

184

183

176

169

168

183

2004

397

253

244

230

192

200

237

2005

467

324

302

270

243

259

279

2006

478

342

311

291

261

273

292

2007

497

362

323

309

274

282

305

2008

507

374

331

316

287

291

311

2009

515

385

347

324

291

299

318

2010

526

398

358

336

319

316

327

2011

539

415

408

348

327

329

338

2012

544

419

412

353

330

334

345

 

Depending on the organizational-legal form, the following non-governmental (non-profit) associations are currently functioning in Transdniestria (the information as of December 2012).

Organizational-legal form

Quantity

Public associations/

Non-profit organizations

3792

From them:

Independent non-profit organizations

334

Non-profit partnerships

330

Educational institutions

353

Public organizations

544

Public funds

412

Public movements

419

Unions of legal entities (associations and unions)

345

Cooperatives of consumers

513

Professional unions

197

Religious organizations

127

Partnerships of homeowners

19

Non-profit institutions

199

 

Thus, according to the State Registration and Notary Service, 3792 NGOs were registered in the State registry of operational legal entities at the end of 2012. At the same time, 218 NGOs of various organizational-legal forms were liquidated following violation of the constitutional right of the citizens to association and of the Transdniestrian fiscal legislation.

       Leadership of the Ministry of Justice tasked the State Registration and Notary Service to “clear as much as possible the legal entities registry of “dead souls”, which were included in the registry from the very beginning”[*#mce_temp_url#3]. At the moment, 80 NGOs are in the process of liquidation.

The total number of liquidated NGOs is the following[*4]:

Organizational-legal form of NGOs

The number of liquidated NGOs

Names of several liquidated NGOs

Public organizations

12

Public organization “Association of victims of political repressions from Ribnita city and Ribnita rayon” and others

Religious organizations

5

Local religious organization Christian Presbyterian Church and others

Non-profit partnerships

43

Non-profit partnership of self-administration “Solidarity”, non-profit partnership “Leader” and others

Funds

94

Fund “Common cause”, Non-profit organization Charity Fund “Cooperation” and others

Associations

57

Association of consumers “District Consumer Union” and others

Independent non-profit organizations

7

Independent non-profit organization “Center of labour protection”, independent non-profit organization “Bender Jewish communal cultural-charitable center “Halom” and others

 

       The issue of liquidation of NGOs that do not violate constitutional right of citizens to association, fiscal legislation and other legal norms, but because of various circumstances are staying idle (i.e. only on paper), remains open.

 

4.     The history and classification of Transdniestrian NGOs.

Public associations operating in Transdniestria are very diverse by their nature. They differ from each other by different parameters: social basis, structure and methods of activity, ideological and program opinions.

Rapid growth of public associations testifies the significant intensification of civic initiative in Transdniestria. On the one hand, it proves that possibilities to use informal mechanisms for defending the interests of different social layers are emerging, and on the other hand – it proves multiplication of social problems, the fact that reflects the controversial nature of the process of building civil society.

If we try to shortly present the history of third sector development in Transdniestria, it is possible to distinguish 4 main stages of NGO development:

  1. 1989-1996 – emergence of public organizations, mainly initiated by the state, including public organizations of military-patriotic and political orientation;  
  2. 1996 – 2006 – emergence of the first independent NGOs and their “fight for survival”;
  3. 2006 – 2011 – splash in civil activism of the population, diversity in the NGOs fields of activity, but search of constant compromise in the process of work and cooperation with state institutions;
  4. 2012 – until present – new political realities, intensification of civic initiatives, introduction of new rules for participation of NGOs in the life of Transdniestria.

The geography of modern non-profit organizations and public associations in Transdniestria is quite non-uniform, the fact which is visible from the following chart:

 

 

 

The main activity of NGOs is the activity which corresponds to the objectives for which the respective organization was created and which are stipulated in its constituent documents. According to Transdniestrian legislation, an NGO can carry out one or several types of activities.

         It is possible to conclude that “Education”, “Social protection”, “Youth problems” and “Development of patriotism” are the main types of activities conducted by Transdniestrian NGOs. Transdniestrian NGOs are least engaged in development of sports and tourism, professional and business-unions, development of regions and mass-media, protection of the rights of national minorities, scientific-research activities, etc.

The specific nature of Transdniestrian NGOs represents the fact that their charters often include diverse and wide objectives for which these organizations were created. As a rule, many NGOs include in their statutory documents at least 10 different fields of activity, “to be safe” in case one of the directions will be not successful. For example, almost every 5thNGO in Transdniestria is engaged in protection of human rights, or, at least, reflects this objective in its charters. However in practice, the assumed obligations are carried out in qualitative manner only by few organizations, and others use their status of human rights organizations only for personal or commercial purposes.

(Data is presented in percentage for December 2012)[*5]

 

* SMSB – small and medium-size business

 

5.     Transdniestrian legislation in the field of NGOs

The following regional legislation in the field of NGOs is operating in Transdniestria:

1.     The Law on “Public Associations” from 16 July 2008. This law regulates public relations arising in connection with realization by citizens of their right to association, which are related to the creation, activity, reorganization and liquidation of public associations; defines organizational-legal forms of Transdniestrian public associations; as well as interaction of the state with public associations.

2.     The Law on “Non-Profit Organizations” from 28 December 2005. The law defines the legal status, the order of creation, activity, reorganization and liquidation of non-profit organizations as legal entities, formation and use of property of non-profit organizations, the rights and duties of their founders (participants), the basis for management of non-profit organizations and possible forms of their support by central and local authorities.

3.     The Law on “Political Parties” from 28 January 2000. This law defines political parties, the order of their registration, reorganization and liquidation, establishes the main principles of activity of Transdniestrian political parties and the mechanism of their interaction with the state, as well as defines the rights, duties and conditions of activity of political parties.

4.     The Law on “Charity Activities and Charity Organizations” from 19 March 2008. The law establishes the basis for legal regulation of charity activities, defines the possibility of their support by central and local authorities, the specificities of the creation and activity of charity organizations aimed at ensuring a wide circulation and development of charity activities in Transdniestria.

5.     The Law on “State Youth Policy” from 24 March 2004. This law defines the basic types and forms of participation of non-profit organizations in implementation of youth policy in Transdniestria.

6.     The Law on “Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations” from 23 August 1995. The Law regulates legal relations in the field of human rights and rights of citizens to freedom of conscience and freedom to worship, as well as legal status of religious associations.

7.     The Law on “Free of Charge Assistance to Transdniestria” from 28 December 2011. The objective of this law is to ensure implementation of socially oriented projects, as well as to strengthen control over the quality of humanitarian and technical assistance coming to Transdniestria, in order to further increase the efficiency of the procedure of its reception and distribution.

8.     Decision of the Government on “The Free of Charge Assistance to Transdniestria” from 10 April 2012.

9.     Decree of the President on “The Form and Timeframe for Submitting Reports of Public Associations to the Ministry of Justice” from 25 March 2009.

10.            Decree of the President on “Providing State Support to Public Associations Carrying out Socially Important Projects” from 22.06.2010.

11.            Decree of the President on approving the Regulation on “State Registration of Non-Profit Organizations in the Form of Legal Entities” and Regulation on “Preparation of the Documents Prior to Registration” from 18 August 2004.

12.            Draft Law on “Certain Measures to Increase Interaction between Central Administration Bodies of the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic and Non-Profit Public Organizations” from 2012.

 

There also exist many regulatory normative-legal acts in Transdniestria that regulate the activity of NGOs, however their specificity represents the fact they should not contradict the laws mentioned above.

 

6.      The main problems encountered in the activity of Transdniestrian NGOs and some recommendations for optimizing their work

 

  1. Partnership and interaction between NGOs from both banks of Dniester river needs to be viewed from different angles, because, as a matter of fact, in each individual case, one or another form of partnership has its own objective.

а) Integration of the third sector from Transdniestria into civil society from Moldova.

Starting from 1990 and until present, civil society on both banks of Dniester river was developing virtually separately. This served as the main reason for the fact that civil societies from both banks of Dniester river are totally not integrated. There are very few cases and examples of participation of NGOs from Transdniestria in NGO structures in Moldova. For example, no organization from Transdniestria is included in the National Council of Youth Organizations from Moldova. In the National Council of NGOs or the National Participation Council the situation is similar, and National Forums of NGOs are attended by maximum 3-4 Transdniestrian organizations.

There are good examples when integration and communication platforms were created, where NGOs from both banks of Dniester river could communicate, exchange opinions, ideas and information. The project “Transdniestrian Dialogues” and the project “One Moldova - One World” can serve as one of the best examples. Unfortunately, such initiatives have no financial sustainability and require constant funds and support. In the opinion of some participants and experts, integration of civil societies from both banks of Dniester river will allow accelerating the democratization process in Transdniestria, will increase the potential of the third sector and will make possible participation of activists from both banks of Dniester river in the public policy.

 

b) Partnership projects, initiatives

It has to be noted that partnership initiatives of the organizations from both banks of Dniester river already have quite a rich history. There are however weak and negative aspects of partnership. Among them we need to mention the obvious difference in the potential and in the possibilities of civil society from both banks of Dniester river. Often, Transdniestrian NGOs carry out the role of statistical partner, which does not have real functions of co-ordination and management. NGO leaders noted that most often this kind of partnership represents a transfer of experience, knowledge, skills, etc. of the organizations from the right bank to the organizations from the left bank. Examples of projects where Transdniestrian NGOs would take the leading role are very few. In the opinion of participants, this happens also because of the very low confidence in the organizations from Transdniestria or because of general mistrust in the “system” and the region.

Another problem represents the state of “expectation” and passivity on behalf of NGOs from both banks of Dniester river in initiating partnerships. While Transdniestrian NGOs mainly have the position of expectation and wait for a signal from a “senior” NGO in Chisinau, then Chisinau organizations show obvious passivity and scepticism concerning creation of such partnerships. There is some interest when special programs on financing partnership projects become available. Supporting joint projects is a very good mechanism for strengthening confidence, destroying stereotypes, resolving essential problems in many areas related to daily lives of people. Therefore, in the opinion of participants, partnership initiatives and especially the concept of partnership between NGOs from both banks of Dniester river need to be promoted more intensively.

  1. Quite a complex civic-political situation has been created in Transdniestria, which also affected the activity of the third sector in general and led to development of certain features in their activity (the political period 1992-2011 and the period when the new political leadership came to power in 2012). It is difficult to separate the activity and influence of the state on the life of civil society in Transdniestria as a whole and activity of NGOs in particular, but we should not speak about universal “politization” of all NGOs.
  2. Currently, Transdniestrian NGOs have quite a small number of members. The institutional structure of NGOs is insufficiently developed. They experience personnel, material, informational and organizational difficulties. Many NGOs do not have development strategy or survival strategy. Less than 25% of all operational NGOs have their own offices. There are practically no well established public analytical centers in Transdniestria, as well as there are practically no serious service organizations providing various types of services to the population (social, legal, educational, medical, and others). Economical sector and agriculture are practically left without attention.
  3. One can observe a separation within the third sector, lack of support and lack of a developed policy of the state, and, sometimes, even an expressed opposition on behalf of supervising bodies and institutions is noticed. Unfortunately, until present there is no confidence of local authorities in NGOs. Many NGO, focused on educational and youth problems, experience difficulties because of lack of access of NGOs to schools and high educational institutions in order to carry out direct activities with pupils and students (separate permissions are required from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which are very difficult to receive).
  4. Concerning the mechanisms of cooperation between the power and civil society in Transdniestria, we need to note here the initiative of Mr. Shevciuk regarding creation of the Public Chamber subordinated to the President, as well as public chambers at the regional level. The idea is not new, as the respective public coordination council exists in Transdniestria already for a long period of time. Changes first of all concerned the regional level, where such initiatives did not exist until present. Currently, it is too early to judge about the efficiency of this mechanism, as many NGO leaders are skeptical about this initiative. The procedure of selection/appointment of the members of these chambers causes special concern. The quality of further actions and functions of these chambers raise doubts, because the majority of their members are “their own” pro-state NGOs.
  5. As a whole it is possible to note the problem of “weakness” of the legislation in the field of regulating the activity of NGOs in the region. This problem is formulated, first of all, as weakness of the third sector and lack of almost any influence of NGOs (advocacy, lobby) on the Supreme Soviet, government or the President’s administration, in order to amend the legislation and improve it.
  6. The Law on “Free of Charge Assistance to Transdniestria” from 28 December 2011 and the decision of the Government on “Free of Charge Assistance to Transdniestria” from 10 April 2012 do not require coordination of all projects with the Commission on technical and humanitarian aid. Coordination Council on technical aid, as competent body of the state in the field of free of charge assistance, takes decisions on the proposed projects related to technical assistance, and carries out their registration in the uniform registry of projects of technical assistance. Contracts (contracts, agreements, etc.) concluded by participants of technical assistance projects aimed at implementing intentions of donors related to granting the free of charge assistance, are subjected to the expertise of the State commission on humanitarian aid. Based on the results of such expertise, the State commission on humanitarian aid issues certificates confirming that the goods, means, works and services represent technical assistance. This procedure needs to be undergone by organizations that want to receive certain benefits[*6]. According to the leaders of some NGOs, Transdniestrian banks, in turn, do not allow NGOs to use their resources received from donors without the permission of the respective Council, even in cases when projects are not included in the category of technical or humanitarian assistance.
  7.  The training programs where representatives of NGOs do participate are chaotic and unsystematic. Neither new, nor experienced organizations can receive the necessary training in time at the level required by them. They have to “catch” different courses, sometimes in different regions. As a result – there is a low level of professional development of the staff of many NGOs, a very weak pace of development of new public leaders and involvement of active volunteers in the organizations and projects. Many times Transdniestrian NGOs voiced the idea of creating a regional resource center for Transdniestrian NGOs (similar to the center “Contact”, Chisinau).
  8.  Another problem is the “Free of charge” and “Not free of charge” basis for activity of Transdniestrian NGOs. The volunteer work and prospects of its development on the territory of Transdniestria in various fields. Currently, Transdniestrian NGOs mainly operate with support received from grants, which are mainly coming from foreign donors. This naturally influences their activity.
  9.  One of the reasons why civil society in Transdniestria lags behind is the lack of a uniform strategy for development of the third sector. Permanent meetings of donors, as well as activity of some international programs became a positive factor in the process of discussing development and financing of Transdniestrian third sector. According to unofficial statistics, more than 90% of the budgets of independent NGOs in Transdniestria represent resources coming from foreign donors, and this represents a very serious problem. Besides this, the problem is also aggravated by the very low capacities of the leaders of organizations in elaboration of project proposals and in project management. According to the participants of the meetings, there are only few NGOs in Transdniestria, which are capable, in their view, to elaborate a serious project proposal and implement a project that includes a great amount of money.
  10.  Today there is no financing of the civil sector by the state bodies. Almost every Transdniestrian NGO experiences financial instability, both from the state sources, as well as from outside sources.
  11.  There is a problem of lack of information about the activity of NGOs, both at the level of municipal structures, as well as at the level of other organizations carrying out their activity in this direction. In this respect, experience of foreign countries, as well as of NGOs functioning on the right bank of Dniestr river, is valuable.

 

  1. 7.     Conclusions and recommendations for development of Transdniestrian NGOs.

In spite of the fact that there is a rapid growth of NGOs in Transdniestria, this does not reflect their qualitative development. The year of 2012 became in some respect a critical year for the Transdniestrian civil society. Certain possibilities were created for an open dialogue with the new government. 

In general it has to be noted that Transdniestrian civil society is quite uniform and the process of its institutional development is still not completed. Nevertheless, positive tendencies are noted in the intentions of Transdniestrian NGOs to strengthen their institutional potential, to develop partnership relations with other NGOs both from Transdniestria, as well as from outside.

 

Proposals for strategic development of NGO sector in Transdniestria:

 

Main purpose – creating a democratic, responsible, and competitive civil society in Transdniestria

Main tasks:

  1. Strengthening organizational and institutional potential of the third sector in Transdniestria
  2. Strengthening financial stability of organizations
  3. Consolidating partnership relations of the civil society organizations from both banks of Dniester river

 

Actions and projects recommended for carrying out these tasks:

1. Strengthening organizational and institutional potential of the third sector in Transdniestria

Actions:

  • Carrying out the analysis of the legislation regulating the activity of NGOs in Transdniestria in order to identify the main problems and elaborate recommendations for its improvement.
  • Creation of the group/platform of NGOs aimed at promoting amendments to the legislation.
  • Organization and carrying out of learning and advisory activities concerning issues related to management of NGOs, fundraising, elaboration of projects for the EU, etc.
  • Initiating a dialogue with foreign donors concerning discussion of problems encountered by NGOs from the region and promoting the idea of the need to support the organizational potential of the organizations
  • Carrying out the analysis of the possibility and need for diversification of the third sector in Transdniestria
  • Assessing opportunities of supporting and developing new institutions of the civil society
  • Creating a resource and informational platform for non-profit organizations
  • Providing information about NGO activities and the results achieved. Transparency of the NGO activity in order to bring public trust
  • Conducting regular sociological research, updating NGO database
  • Developing independent mass-media and their cooperation with NGOs

 2.     Strengthening financial stability of organizations

Actions:

  • Creating informational database of potential donors for Transdniestrian NGOs
  • Training NGOs in fundraising
  • Reviewing the possibilities of ensuring NGO support from local resources and elaborating the necessary recommendations
  • Creating a permanent dialogue platform for communication between potential donors and organizations from Transdniestria
  • Implementation of joint programs with Moldovan and international NGOs. Working with governmental agencies on both banks of Dniester river 

 3.     Consolidating partnership relations of the civil society organizations from both banks of Dniester river

Actions:

  • Creating a permanent platform (Forum) of NGOs from both banks of Dniester river for communication, exchange of ideas, development of joint programs and projects aimed at addressing common problems
  • Development and promotion of campaigns to support joint initiatives and projects of organizations and people with initiative from both banks of Dniester river
  • Organization of joint study visits and internships to study the experience, make exchange of  information and receive training

 

 



[1] Sociological researches were conducted  by  NGO “Resonance” in 2010 and by NGO “World Window” in 2008.

[2] The state registry of non-profit organizations and public associations of Transdniestria 1992 - 2012.

[3] Press-service of the Ministry of Justice, 21.03.2012.

[4] The uniform state registry of legal entities, 2012.

[5] Data presented by Transdniestrian State Registration and Notary Service, December 2012.

[6] http://tiraspol.ru/Invest_reglament

 

 

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