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Press Releases
2019 Oct

Results of the CSO Meter Research presented

On October 3, 2019, the Transparency International Anticorruption Center (TIAC) presented the findings of the CSO Meter, a new tool designed to assess civil society environment. More than 60 representatives of state agencies, international and civil society organisations attended the event.

CSO Meter research was carried out between March-May 2019 by TIAC within the framework of the project “Monitoring Progress, Empowering Action”. The research was conducted in all six Eastern Partnership countries based on a unique and jointly designed methodology.

Sona Ayvazyan, TIAC Executive Director delivered opening remarks. She mentioned that the CSO Meter covers the environment for civil society organisations’ (CSO) operation and activities: to what extent it enables exercising human rights and contributes to the civil society development. "This study allowed us to be more professional, to assess the situation based on certain standards, map the issues, and I think today's discussion will also help us complete the study. It should serve as a tool for all of us to understand the situation, and in the future anyone will be able to assess how far there is progress in meeting these standards in Armenia," said TIAC Executive Director.

In her opening remarks, Deputy Minister of Justice Kristinne Grigoryan emphasized the high importance of the topics covered by the research. She said that last year she had participated in a discussion organised by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which resulted in developing a number of recommendations on creating and protecting an enabling environment for civil society. She noted that the strategies and policies developed by the state are largely based on CSOs' experience and research, thus stressing the significance of CSOs' involvement in public policy. “I think this study will also be a source of inspiration and will find its embodiment in the form of legislative changes. It is the first step of diagnosis, which should be followed by more practical engagement, cooperation in specific directions,” the Deputy Minister added.

Line Urban, International Aid / Cooperation Officer of the EU Delegation to Armenia, shared EU global support to civil society space, capacity and voice and encouraged participants to engage actively in the discussion of the CSO Meter study findings on the situation in Armenia. “The CSO Meter allows to picture the situation in a country at a given moment. However, for some indicators you can change the situation from day-to-day whereas for others it will take time”. She also encouraged to explore the situation for social enterprises in more detail. “Representative, accountable, transparent and well-governed civil society organisations are of great importance but it also means that each civil society organisation and staff member have a responsibility in terms of improving access for people with disabilities, gender mainstreaming, working with the government and ensuring that labour rights are respected,” the EU representative concluded.

TIAC Lawyer Anush Hakobyan and Project Expert Tatevik Margaryan presented the methodology and main outcomes of the CSO Meter Study. Margaryan noted that according to the methodology, ten areas of CSO environment were studied through special standards and indicators which were based on the review of international norms in each area. Further, the authors of the report presented the key findings and recommendations of the study and answered the participants' questions. Many of the recommendations were aimed at the improvement of CSO financial sustainability, particularly through transparent state funding and engaging CSOs in service provision, as well as through more beneficial taxation of CSO economic activities. The CSO Meter report also makes  a number of recommendations regarding CSO participation in policy making and implementation processes. The authors proposed to increase the effectiveness of existing participation mechanisms to provide more inclusive and meaningful participation of CSOs, including participation in the early stages of law making. Besides, the report also highlights issues of CSO stigmatization and hate speech, calling on the authorities to introduce relevant regulations and practical measures to address this worrisome trend.

The presentation of the report was followed by a working discussion in three groups. The first group discussed recommendations regarding freedom of association, equal treatment, taxation, and volunteering. The second group discussed issues related to freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, and state duty to protect. The third group discussed recommendations in the areas of the right to participate in decision-making, state-CSO cooperation, and state funding. Main results of the group work were presented to the participants of the event and will be taken into account in the final version of the report.

It is expected that the CSO Meter will help to spark new advocacy campaigns to change policies and laws affecting CSOs.

The event was organised with the financial assistance of the European Union within the framework of the Action “Monitoring Progress, Empowering Action”. The project is implemented by TIAC in partnership with European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting (ECNL) and its partners in the other Eastern Partnership countries: MG Consulting LLC in Azerbaijan; Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs in collaboration with Legal Transformation Center in Belarus; Civil Society Institute in Georgia; Promo-LEX Association in Moldova; and the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) in Ukraine.