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18 Sep

Enhancing the Role of Civil Society in Jordan

The West Asia - North Africa (WANA) Institute hosted a half-day roundtable on strengthening civil society organisations on 18 September at the Royal Scientific Society in Amman.

28 policy-makers, academics, and experts from think tanks were invited to discuss the current situation of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Jordan, and formulated policy recommendations to enhance their role.

“A big number of CSOs/Community-based Organisations (CBOs) are lacking awareness and understanding of laws and policies, and the national unions should focus on building their capacities,” Omar Al Jarah, Al-Aman Centre for Human Rights Studies, said.

“The meeting was an open dialogue between the CSOs and with the government officials, where the latter clarified key issues related to the societies' current law in general and funding approvals in particular,” Mahmoud Nabulsi, Senior Researcher and Team Leader at the WANA Institute, said. 

According to the 2008 Law of Societies, a minimum of seven people can register as a society. As a result, the monthly number of societies that register, has doubled. “Each month 50 to 55 new civil society organisations register with the Ministry of Social Development, and that is caused by the current law,” Khetam Alshnekat, Head of the Registrar of Societies at the Ministry of Social Development, stated.

Opponents to the current law, stated that it led to too many organisations competing for funding, which decreases the quality of services. It is also difficult for the government to monitor the large number of societies. Those in favour, argued that from a human rights perspective, everyone should have the right to register an organisation.

Dr. Laila Naffa, Head of the Arab Women Organisation, concluded that “civil society organisations, ministries, think tanks and decision-makers should work and cooperate to lift civil society up and support the local organisations.”

This event was part of the Jordan Civil Society Initiative project, funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

Funding provided by the United States government

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