2024 Activities

Opportunities, barriers and available space for civil society to participate in public policymaking and accountability in its implementation

Opportunities, barriers and available space for civil society to participate in public policymaking and accountability in its implementation

The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) held a discussion session for a draft study entitled "Assessing the space available for Palestinian civil society to participate in public policymaking and accountability in its implementation.” The objective of the discussion was to come up with concrete recommendations that would help overcome the challenges facing civil society’s active participation in the management of public affairs and funds, including oversight and accountability (community accountability) over implementation in general as well as public policies in particular.

The Executive Director of AMAN, Essam Haj Hussein, opened the session by emphasizing that enabling civil society to play a role in public policymaking and accountability is central in the enhancement of the integrity of governance to ensure that decision-makers formulate policies that are in the interest of the public, not to achieve political, partisan or private interests. He added that the study discusses the subjective and objective factors of empowering civil society, in terms of its readiness to participate in public policymaking and accountability for those policies, as well as the space provided by the government for civil society to participate and the extent to which it accepts its role.

The general environment during the previous years was an obstacle to the Palestinian civic space

The study showed that the Israeli occupation is one of the most grave obstacles facing civil society, particularly its practices of frequent harassment, arrests and unlawful prosecutions, and the closure of civic institutions because of their national and societal role, in addition to coercing donor countries to halt assistance to Palestinian institutions across the board.

Another obstacle is the Palestinian division and its consequences. Some of the most detrimental consequences are the Palestinian Authority’s dissolution of the Legislative Council, the dominance of the executive branch over all areas of governance, taking over the legislative process,  and the enactment or amendment of some laws, which impinges on the independence of the supporting supervisory bodies. This, in addition to making amendments that affected the laws of the judiciary and attempting to amend the Law of Charitable Societies and NGOs to undercut the independence and freedom of civic institutions and their supervisory role over the work of the executive authority.

The absence of a law for the right to information is one of the most prominent obstacles 

The study indicates that the Palestinian constitution guarantees the right of citizens to participate in policymaking and accountability for policy implementation; the Palestinian Basic Law guarantees community participation in public life. The study showed that there are no legislative scripts that allow the government to negate the right of civil society to participate in formulating public policies and influencing the decision-making process.

There is simply no law regulating the right to information, which is a significant element in facilitating the participation of civic institutions and the supervision of accountability in public policymaking.

Absence of a written, adopted or published public policy regulating the relationship with civil society

In addition to those obstacles, there is no public policy written, ratified or published, that regulates the relationship between civil society and official bodies concerning the partnership in public policymaking, despite the fact that official statements and plans include many references to the involvement of civil society in the preparation of documents and plans. However, the pragmatic position of the nineteenth government for enhancing the participation of civil society in public policymaking and overseeing accountability for policy implementation is encouraging. 

Progress in approving the Right to Information Law and revising the Cybercrime Law

For his part, the Director of the Executive Office for Institutional Reform, Dr. Mohammed Al-Ahmad, stressed the importance of disclosure and accountability in public work, at the same time praised the objectivity of the studies issued by the AMAN coalition. 

Dr. Al-Ahmad explained that the government has taken a decision to open up to civil society and to consider it a key partner for the government in everything related to public interest, especially in completing the reform and development plans.

Dr. Al-Ahmad also underscored the fact that there is serious progress towards adopting the right to information law, which he considered one of the most important stanchions of developed countries.

Dr. Al-Ahmad also disclosed that a government committee was formed, which includes the participation of civil society organizations, to review the Cybercrime Law issued in 2018, which he believes is a concrete step towards promoting freedoms in general and preserving freedom of expression in particular.

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