Strategy 2007-2017

Strategy for NPA SEE Civil Society and Media
Development Programme for the period 2007 – 2017
1.0. Background

The countries in the region of South East Europe are slowly recovering from years of war, disintegration and conflict. The wars following the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) led to mass movements of people and resettlement along ethnic lines. The wars thus produced considerable demographic changes in the composition of the population in many countries and areas in SEE. This fact is still today a major obstacle to reconciliation and normalization of relationships between the peoples and states in the region, and it will be for many years to come. If not dealt with appropriately, this can be seeds for future conflicts. In addition, final status of some geographical and political entities in the region has not been completed. Future stability in the region depends on adequate, just and appropriate solutions to these questions.

The new states emerging from the republics that constituted SFRJ are all in a transition phase from authoritarianism to democracy. All states have stated their intention to join the European Union, whereas only Slovenia has become a member of the EU of the six republics that made up SFRJ. The remaining countries share a common history and face similar challenges on their way to democracy, and the citizens of the countries share common problems related to the transition process and the legacy that the wars left behind.

Nationalist parties are in power or constitute the biggest parties in all countries in SEE. These political parties remain a constant impediment to transition to democracy. They obstruct drafting of laws securing the rights of minorities, they propagate hate speech and discrimination, and they are typically linked to groups that participated actively in the wars of the nineties conducting ethnic cleansing and engaging in war-profiteering. The political-criminal structures of the former regimes linked to the former secret police and organized crime still represent a considerable power base and they exert significant political influence. The organized crime organization the “Zemun Clan” in Belgrade had no major difficulties in assassinating the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003, neither had they difficulties in assassinating “protected” witnesses in the court case against them as late as summer 2006.

State institutions remain weak and suffer heavily from the fact that the majority of public servants are politically appointed. Adopting laws that secure respect for human rights of citizens along with international human rights standards is going forward however slowly. Public debate on responsibilities for the wars and atrocities and crimes committed during the nineties is almost non-existent, whereas all sides are obsessed with documenting crimes committed against their fellow nationals.

Unemployment, low wages, poverty, discrimination against minorities, corruption, organized crime, nationalism, xenophobia, clericalism and nepotism are common challenges in all countries in transition, and affect the vast majority of citizens. The general public having been fed official propaganda through state media during the nineties had high hopes for democratic transition of their states and societies, expecting a rapid tangible improvement of their living conditions. It seems that the general public in the countries of SEE is in general alienated from politics as surveys show that the trust in politicians is record low. Furthermore, turnout in elections is generally low. Many citizens are marked by apathy as they feel that they cannot influence anything and that nothing changes to the better regardless of what strategy for NPA SEE Civil Society and Media Development Programme for the period 2007 – 2017.

Many find comfort in the populist black-and-white simplistic and distorted explanation served by the nationalist parties.

Against this background it is clear that many challenges remain in the transition countries in SEE.

Passivity, apathy, nationalism, xenophobia, lack of trust in institutions and organizations, legislation, lack of rule of law, poverty, discrimination, clericalism, and culture of violence – are common problems in the region for all social groups. The countries in the region had a poorly developed civil sector until recently.

A considerable effort has been made over the last years to strengthen the civil sector, and a lot of

progress has been made, but further development of civil society is imperative. Today in the region of SEE the civil society organizations and media are fairly well developed in the capitals and in bigger towns, while a lot remains in smaller towns and in the countryside. However, further development of civil society and media is still dependent on international support.

That is why NPA will continue to cooperate with civil society organizations (CSOs) that address the problems mentioned. NPA will continue supporting capacity and competence building of CSO partners.

NPA firmly believes that strengthening civil society is of crucial importance in order to secure a

successful transition to viable democracies in the region on the long-term, and that a strong civil society will be a guarantor of democracy and bulwark against authoritarianism. NPA will focus on the following areas in the strategy period 2007 – 2017:

Focus area

Integration of the Marginalized

Increased Civic Participation

Media Development

2.0. NPA’s mission

Target group

IDPs, refugees, Roma population

Women, youth, electorate, local communities

Local media, journalists, general public

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is a non-governmental civil society organization with roots in the Norwegian labour movement. Founded in 1939, the first international engagement of NPA was providing humanitarian aid to the victims of fascism in Spain. NPA has been working in the region of South Eastern Europe since 1993.

2.1. Mission statement

Through support to local and regional civil society organizations, NPA is actively involved in developing a viable civil society as a cornerstone for democracy, bulwark against authoritarianism and foundation for long-term stability in the region.

2.2. Vision

Participatory democracies constituting open societies based on the rule of law, where state institutions provides security and respect the rights of all citizens and where cooperation between states is based on a common understanding of the interdependent interests of their citizens in the region.

Strategy for NPA SEE Civil Society and Media Development Programme for the period 2007 – 2017.

2.3. The role of NPA SEE – Regional Perspective


NPA has a comparative advantage due to long experience and presence in the region. Firstly, NPA has an overview of the socio-political situation. Secondly, NPA has experienced expert staff covering the relevant areas of work and a developed infrastructure including administrative and logistics system, covering the whole region of SEE. Thirdly, through partnership cooperation and gained knowledge, NPA is familiar with local, national and international actors. This experience and organization enables NPA to match support with real needs and priorities of local communities and activists in the focus areas.


NPA sees partnership as a two-way cooperative relationship, sharing the complementary resources of various partners in terms of finance, skills, technology, information, knowledge of particular realities, and thus power – in order to empower partners to reach their objectives related to marginalized social groups. Strengthening civil society through local and regional civil society organizations and media is a dynamic process requiring close cooperation with relevant organisations. Changing contexts influence project planning and implementation requiring close follow-up and contact with partner-organisations, as well as flexibility on behalf of the regional office.


NPA gives priority to exchange of information and coordination both with partners and donors in the region. This contributes to the strengthening of civil society organizations. Furthermore, due to close interaction and coordination with the NPA SEE civil society and media development program, NPA has an important insight in the development in the region, connecting partners from various fields and enabling their cooperation and synergies. Networking involves cooperation on the local, national and international levels.

3.0. Long Term Development Objective (LTDO)

Civil society organizations are strengthened and democratically minded citizens are actively influencing the political agenda and political discourse locally and regionally.

3.1. Assumptions and Risks – Feasibility of LTDO


Democratization processes in the SEE region continue without major setbacks. Democratic

CSOs will not be oppressed.

Relative continuity with respect to governments in the countries in the region.


Political situation in the region is worsened:

Democratic CSOs are oppressed, political crises lead to armed conflicts, increased influence of religious institutions on politics in the region – clericalisation. Frequent change of governments, lack of continuity.

Laws are developed and implemented in Obstruction of the adoption of relevant legal accordance with relevant international conventions.

framework. Non-adoption and non-implementation of relevant laws. A restrictive legislation on CSOs is defined and put into practice.

Strategy for NPA SEE Civil Society and Media Development Programme for the period 2007 – 2017.

The NPA SEE CSO partners continue working in accordance with their missions.

Considerable change of profiles of the NPA SEE CSO partners, diverging from current goals of NPA and partners.

Funds for support are available at the planned Funds for support are considerably reduced.

Based on the assumptions and risks stated above NPA believes that the stated Long Term

Development Objective is feasible. Risks are present, but they are not expected to have a significant impact on the further development of civil society and media organizations in the region. However, it is a challenge that reactionary forces in the political establishment are obstructing and delaying the transition process in general, and adaptation of relevant laws in particular. It is expected that this situation will improve during the time period that this strategy covers. Considerable progress has been made within the field of civil society and media development, but a continuous monitoring of the development of the socio-political situation is necessary in order to secure that NPA and partners’ activities are relevant and appropriate interventions in relation to the challenges and needs of the communities and states in which we work.

4.0. Immediate Development Objectives (IDO)

Protected civic and other human rights of IDPs and refugees in Serbia.

• NPA and Roma-CSOs

consider the Roma-

CSOs to be strengthened, Roma CSOs empowered working with protection of human rights for the Roma population

• Roma CSOs have influenced authorities policies, legislation and practice towards Roma


• Improved protection of human rights for the Roma population

• NPA and CSOs working with IDPs and refugees consider the CSOs to be strengthened, empowered IDP and refugee CSOs working with protection of human rights for the IDP and refugee population

• CSOs working with IDPs and refugees have influenced authorities policies, legislation and practice towards the IDP and refugee population

• Increased number of IDPs and refugees exercise their rights

Strategy for NPA SEE Civil Society and Media Development Programme for the period 2007 – 2017.

- Citizens with initiative seeking positive change in their local communities

-Empowered women take on responsibilities and decision-making positions in public and political life.

-youth bringing relevant issues on the political agenda locally and regionally.

-Empowered citizens bringing relevant issues on the political agenda.

• CSOs working with gender issues have influenced authorities policies, legislation and practice on gender issues

• Institutional mechanisms for gender equality established

• Increased number of women in decision-making positions

•NPA and CSOs working with youth consider the CSOs to be strengthened

• CSOs working with youth issues have influenced authorities policies, legislation and practice on youth issues

• Increased number of youth initiatives in public life

• Increased number of CSO initiatives in public life

• NPA and relevant partners consider CSO initiatives have created positive changes in local communities

Local media Development Journalists

Project General public

System safeguarding free, fair and democratic elections established.

Free media, media organizations, associations and networks developed.

• NPA and partners consider that CSOs and citizens have improved control of the elections

• State electoral bodies have improved capacities and resources to conduct free and fair democratic elections

• Citizens are familiar with their rights and duties related to democratic elections

• NPA and relevant media partners consider that quality of reporting has improved

• Stronger associations safeguarding the interest of free media

• Better informed general public understanding the objective realities in the societies they live

Strategy for NPA SEE Civil Society and Media Development Programme for the period 2007 – 2017.

5.0. Priorities of NPA SEE 2007 – 2017

The Program’s primary objective is strengthened civil society, meaning developed CSOs and their networks as much as competent individuals/citizens that promote democratic values of social justice, diversity and anti-discrimination.

? Having in mind that Serbia is the country with the highest number of IDPs and refugees in

Europe (5% of the total population); NPA will continue cooperation with CSOs in improving conditions for IDPs and refugees to claim their rights no matter if the end solution is repatriation or integration.

In the whole region media legislation is still unclear, with often corrupt licensing procedures; non-transparent ownership and various types of connections between broadcasters and political

parties. NPA will continue supporting initiatives aimed at improving: media legislation, local

media, investigating reporting, development of associations, networking and minority media in

the region.

NPA will focus on cooperation with Roma CSOs that deal with protection and promotion of Roma rights and their integration into society.

? The basic tool for positive changes in a democratic society is the right to vote, thus NPA will continue cooperating with CSOs dealing with improvement of electoral legislation, monitoring electoral processes and checking its results, raising awareness on civic rights and duties.

? A crucial strategic component for a process of democratization is the participation of women in public life. NPA believes that a society is democratic only if both sexes participate in making

decisions with their different experience and attitudes. Co-operation with governmental agencies

in charge of developing and monitoring the implementation of gender equality measures such as

laws, gender quota and other regulations related to gender equality will continue.

? Specific for youth is that in this particular group the problems of various social groups cross and intensify each other. From the individual point of view, many youth problems (like discrimination by the elderly, compulsory military service, low participation in public life and decision-making processes) get solved as one gets older, but the generation problems remain. NPA will encourage selected youth CSO partners to make strategic coalitions for addressing jointly identified issues / challenges / problems locally and regionally.

? Timeframe for NPA engagement in SEE is 2007-2017. Another review of the timeframe should be done at the end of 2008 when NPA should together with relevant partners assess progress made in relation to the set objectives and political development in the region.

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