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Ive Bajazita bb (P. BOX 18), 11420 Smed. Palanka, Serbia and Montenegro Phone: +381 (0)26/318-106; GSM: +381 (0)64/190-44-60, Fax: +381 (0)26/318-406 E-mail:, Web:

Local Authorities And Non-Governmental Organizations 1
Starting from the definition of CIVICUS that the civil society is "the sphere of institutions, organizations and individuals located between the family, the state and the market in which people participate voluntarily in order to promote common interests" we shall try to elucidate on the basic concepts related to the civic participation in the local government and the position and role of non-governmental organizations. The usual answer to the question "Why should we argue cooperation between local authorities and nongovernmental organizations?" would be – because the citizens are entitled to participation in the community they live in because the development and the future of their community, municipality or borough affect their own future and development. Local authorities are basically made up of the citizens’ delegates who live in the local community in order to run the community. Civic participation in the local government is essentially a matter of citizens, that is, the people’s rights to have access to information and development plans as well as to participate in the entire process of decision-making in the community. From the perspective of sustainability, the management and development of the local community include a group of issues of growing width and complexity. In order to perform these tasks of management and development, successful civic participation is often precious. Good ideas can contribute a lot to the improvement of the local government and the citizens who are directly involved or are directly struck by the problem usually have the best ideas. Specific cases, thoughts and discussions constantly provide creativity and innovations necessary to secure delicate and wise solutions that would satisfy everybody. Civic participation in the local government almost always provides cost-efficient problem solutions. The citizens can help in finding cheaper ways to solve the problem and their volunteer contribution can help significantly in reducing financial costs. It should also be emphasized that local authorities can pay a high price if citizens are not directly involved in decision-making. The ideal goal of such participation is the participation of citizens as the integral and permanent part of the local government. The realization of this goal can be seen from two perspectives, that is, in two ways: from the perspective of participation phases and the perspective of participation levels. The first way has the following phases: 1. PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION: investigating and discussing the problem and identifying the causes or important aspects of the problem that we wish to solve; 2. PROBLEM ANALYSIS: analysis of the problem’s context, analysis of factors affecting the problem situation, development of possible solutions and ways of addressing the problem (=development of action plans); 3. PREPARATION OF ACTION PLANS: feasibility study on various action plans or resources that are available or can be mobilized; 4. PROJECTING ACTION PLANS: selection of optimum action plans, their adjustment into specific options, applicable in practice; 5. EXECUTION OF ACTION PLANS
1 Contribution of the NGO »European Movement in Smederevska Palanka« for the 5th number of newsletter of the project " "Promotion of Pluralism by Strengthening NGOs and The Civil Society In Serbia" in partnership with NGO »European Perspective« from Greece as main applicant (project B7-702/2001/0872, European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, European Commission). More information on the web site Prepared by Milan Milošević, Master of Systemology and Logistics

6. MONITORING, EVALUATION AND ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS: supervising the execution of action plans, feedback on efficacy and effectiveness of taken measures related to the problem’s solution and possible improvement of action plans. Additional analysis of the problem and its solution is necessary for the purpose of providing sustainability of the problem’s solution and for additional use of the acquired experience. The other way of analyzing participation identifies the following levels of civic participation: 1. RESISTANCE: people actively opposing participation in problem resolution; 2. OPPOSITION: Opposition refers to the actions of protest of both citizens and non-governmental organizations, thus influencing the changes in action plans or measures taken by the government. Generally speaking, this term is used to denote all processes of mobilizing people/ organizations/ political parties in order to protest, demanding and trying to change a decision or measure inside or outside the organization. 3. INFORMING: in the context of civic participation, one-way communication towards stakeholder groups; 4. CONSULTING: communication in both ways with stakeholder groups having the opportunity to make suggestions and express doubts – still without promises that their contribution will be used or is intended to be used; 5. BUILDING CONSENSUS: on this level, stakeholder groups interact among themselves and consider different options with a view to reaching an agreement or negotiating on the position acceptable to everyone; 6. DECISION-MAKING: the level on which the citizens are directly involved in decision-making, and when responsibility is shared for the consequences that can be caused by the made decision; 7. RISK-SHARING: on this level of participation, the citizens are directly involved in the consequences of the undertaken action plan, that is, they personally bear the consequences, including the risk that the consequences may differ from what was planned, and based on this they share responsibility for the decision and its consequences; 8. PARTNERSHIP: this level of civic participation unites the preceding two levels. In partnership, not only do the citizens participate in decision-making and risk sharing but they also take part in implementing the decision, equally with other citizens included in the problem’s resolution; 9. SELF-MANAGEMENT: this level of participation means that the citizens run things autonomously, that is, are held completely responsible. The self-management level is the highest level of participation. Civic participation does not take place in a vacuum; there is no laboratory where we can set all the parameters to be optimum. In real life it is not easy to be realistic because every example of civic participation depends on the context in which it takes place. Context should be seen as something that literally and figuratively surrounds and affects civic participation, for the better or for the worse, and it cannot be directly influenced. A good example are cases that show that civic participation is more successful where there is tradition in participating in the local government, where the citizens have the culture of “participating in the local government”, that is to say, there is a tradition of evaluating and stimulating civic participation in common work. This cultural factor is contextual since it is impossible to influence it in reasonable time. Apart from the cultural context, there are social, political, economic and legal contexts. These contexts, more or less, make the unchanged starting position for civic participation. Prior to initiating civic participation, we should think about the contextual factors that promote it, that is, the contextual factors that can alleviate it.

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«Community Tool Box»;

«Toolkit Citizen Participation» ***

Local Authorities And Non-Governmental Organizations