An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and should be recognised and treated as such by the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As was outlined in the European Commission’s Bosnia and Herzegovina 2020 report, “the overall legal and regulatory framework for civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina is broadly in line with the EU acquis. No progress was made in addressing the Opinion key priority 11 on ensuring an enabling environment for civil society, notably by upholding European standards on freedom of association and freedom of assembly. Challenges remain, as exemplified in the case of the “Justice for David” movement in Banja Luka and “Justice for Dzenan” movement in Sarajevo. Meaningful and systematic consultations with civil society remain to be ensured as part of an inclusive policy dialogue. A framework for the transparent funding of civil society organisations is needed.”
The EU’s policy on civil society is based on the Guidelines for EU support to civil society in enlargement countries. These contain a set of objectives, results and indicators which were developed for EU support to civil society. They allow the measurement of progress at country level as well as across the enlargement region. The Guidelines for the period 2021-2027 are available at this link Guidelines for EU support to civil society in enlargement countries 2021 – 2027
Some further details on civil society organisations in BiH:
- According to the records there are 25,646 registered associations and foundations.
- The official data obtained from entity statistics bureaus and tax offices related to full time employees vary from 3,063 to 4,247 employees. It represents some 3.5% of the total number of employees outside of the agricultural sector in BiH.
- Civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina has all characteristics of civil society in a transitional country dominated by sport-recreational associations and associations that represent interests of specific social groups.
Some key recommendations from the EU financed Mapping Study of CSOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina September 2022 are targeting improvement of:
- content and implementation of CSOs’ relevant legislation (particularly related with equalizing laws and by-laws – e.g., rulebook on keeping the register of CSOs) and establishing legal obligation for (a) maintaining accurate online data bases on existing CSOs as well as for (b) determining the operational status of CSOs, as a ground for initiation of dissolution process of CSOs (similar to Law’s article regarding obligation of maintaining annual assembly meeting of CSOs). Also, in regards to content of the relevant Laws, there is a need for clarification on potential conflict among different Laws in regards to ability of CSOs to perform economic activities, since this segment has a great potential for sustainability of the civic actors in BiH- e.g., Law on consumer protection in BiH limited CSOs that work in consumer protection area to engage in economic activity1 and BiH Law on association and foundations states ’An association or foundation, can perform economic activities only if it is basic the purpose of such activities is the achievement of goals established by the statute’ and also ‘Associations or foundations may perform unrelated economic activities (economic activities that are not directly related to the realization of the basic statutory goals of associations and foundations) only through a specially established legal entity’2.
- existing financial legislation relevant to CSOs in order to establish a modern ground for CSOs in performing their financial operations and reporting. Chart of Accounts as well as forms of the financial reports should be fully adjusted to work of CSOs and needs for establishing data basis necessary for supporting development of civic sector,
- transparent and competition-based allocation of public funds to CSOs. Existing estimation of 34,4% share of public funds in total revenue of CSOs in BiH is far from EU average (58%),
- effectiveness in usage of existing (and development of new) Agreements of cooperation among the public institutions and CSOs, since partnership among two sectors is essential for achieving desired improvements in regards to upcoming reforms in BiH but also further development of civic society.
Previous Calls for Proposals