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Jordan

Public Sector/Civil Society Collaboration (JO0059)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Jordan Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Social Development; and the Companies Control Department / Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply

Support Institution(s): Union of Environmental Associations - The Social Development Committee - QUDRAT for Community Development - AFAQ Jordan for Development and Training - Nama Strategic Intelligence Solutions - Generations of culture's forum - Abu Alanda Association for Social Development - Ta'aioush for training and humanitarian development - Creativity and Charitable Development - ARD for Human Development and Training - Future for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Association - Good Land Charity Society - Our Children Cultural Association - We Participate for Civil Society Development - Society for Humanity Development of the Community - Karak Castle Center For Consultations and Training - Tadaeem Center for Developing Local Communities - Al-Shamaa Charitable Association for Family Care - Youth for Tomorrow's Center for Civil Society Development - Jordan Association for Entrepreneurship - We Rise Center for Sustainable Development - Renas Women Cooperative Association - Ro'ya Charitable Association - Jordanian Association of Transparency - Al-Hayat Center - Rased - Transparency International - Jordan

Policy Areas

Civic Space, Legislation & Regulation, Sustainable Development Goals

IRM Review

IRM Report: Jordan Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Enhancing partnership and dialogue between the
public sector and Civil Society Lead implementing agency
Commitment Description
1 / 9 / 2018 - 30 / 6 / 2020
Ministry of Social Development; and the Companies Control Department / Ministry of
Industry, Trade and Supply What is the public
problem that the
commitment will
address?
This commitment will address the lack of trust between government and CSOs which is
the result of poor prior dialogue and participatory practices in decision-making. While
CSOs complain about the difficulty of governmental procedures on funding and other
regulations and practices, the government, on the other hand, complains about the weak
governance framework at CSOs.
What is the commitment?
The commitment seeks to establish dialogue between the government and CSOs (namely
associations, non-profit companies, charities among others) on the mechanisms of
approving these institutions to receive foreign funding, on their standards of governance,
and on policies to improve their work.
How will the commitment
contribute to solve the
public problem?
Achieving a common vision between the government and CSOs on the policies that
govern the work of these institutions will contribute to supporting the democratic
transition, through an effective partnership between the two parties. Enhancing the
governance framework at CSOs will improve the performance of the sector and rebuild
trust in it, not only by governmental bodies, but also by various societal components.
Why is this commitment
relevant to OGP values?
This commitment is in line with the value of Civic Participation, since the commitment
requires participatory actions from governmental and non-governmental actors
throughout its implementation.
Additional information
This commitment is linked to the government›s plans and directions, which position CSOs
as significant development partners, and is in line with SDG 16. Particularly sub-goal 16.7
to “Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all
levels”. Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable
Start
implementation
Date
End
implementation
Date
Review of procedures for approvals of receiving foreign funding through dialogue
with different target audiences, with a view to adopting uniform, clear, transparent
and simplified procedures, in line with best standards.
1 / 4 / 2019 30 / 4 / 2020
Adopting a set of voluntary and mandatory standards for the development of
governance within targeted civil society organizations in consultation with the various
target groups mentioned above. This may include the declaration of annual budgets and
the enforcement of legal frameworks relating to social security, submission of income
tax returns, transfer of employees› salaries (through banks, etc.), and considering the
development of clear procedures to monitor the enforcement of these standards.
1 / 9 / 2018 30 / 4 / 2020
Launching a voluntary, participatory (non-binding) civil society strategy in
partnership with governmental agencies and donors that sets development
priorities and performance improvement policies for CSOs to be consistent with
national priorities, challenges, available resources and best practices.
1 / 1 / 2019 30 / 6 / 2020
Contact Information
Name of responsible person from implementing agency
Lama Qutaishat
Awad Al-addouss
Waleed Elshatarat
Email and Phone
lama.qutaishat@ccd.gov.jo
+962777755855
awad.aladdous@ccd.gov.jo
+962795319583
welshatarat@gmail.com
+962785199099
Other Actors Involved
(CSOs and Experts)
Name of the CSOs and
experts who applied for the
voluntary assistance to the
implementation of the 4th
NAP. Open call of interest
was launched during 2 -17 /
12 / 2018.
- Union of Environmental Associations
- The Social Development Committee
- QUDRAT for Community Development
- AFAQ Jordan for Development and Training
- Nama Strategic Intelligence Solutions
- Generations of culture's forum
- Abu Alanda Association for Social Development
- Ta'aioush for training and humanitarian development
- Creativity and Charitable Development
- ARD for Human Development and Training
- Future for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Association
- Good Land Charity Society
- Our Children Cultural Association
- We Participate for Civil Society Development
- Society for Humanity Development of the Community
- Karak Castle Center For Consultations and Training
- Tadaeem Center for Developing Local Communities
- Al-Shamaa Charitable Association for Family Care
- Youth for Tomorrow's Center for Civil Society Development
- Jordan Association for Entrepreneurship
- We Rise Center for Sustainable Development
- Renas Women Cooperative Association
- Ro'ya Charitable Association
- Jordanian Association of Transparency
- Al-Hayat Center - Rased
- Transparency International - Jordan

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 1: Public Sector and Civil Society Partnership and Dialogue

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

"The commitment seeks to establish dialogue between the government and CSOs (namely associations, non-profit companies, charities among others) on the mechanisms of approving these institutions to receive foreign funding, on their standards of governance, and on policies to improve their work."

Milestones:

  1. "Review of procedures for approvals of receiving foreign funding through dialogue with different target audiences, with a view to adopting uniform, clear, transparent and simplified procedures, in line with best standards.
  1. Adopting a set of voluntary and mandatory standards for the development of governance within targeted civil society organizations in consultation with the various target groups mentioned above. This may include the declaration of annual budgets and the enforcement of legal frameworks relating to social security, submission of income tax returns, transfer of employees› salaries (through banks, etc.), and considering the development of clear procedures to monitor the enforcement of these standards.
  2. Launching a voluntary, participatory (non-binding) civil society strategy in partnership with governmental agencies and donors that sets development priorities and performance improvement policies for CSOs to be consistent with national priorities, challenges, available resources and best practices."

Start Date: 1 / 9 / 2018

End Date: 30 / 6 / 2020

Editorial Note: the commitment description provided above is an abridged version of the commitment text, please see the full action plan here.

Context and Objectives

Civil society organizations (CSOs) in Jordan are governed by the Law on Societies. This law has gone through numerous changes, including in 2008 and 2009. [1] The latest changes have simplified registration and continued operation of foundations (referred to as “closed societies”) and not-for-profit companies (“private societies”). Civil society organizations register under the Ministry of Social Development and under their relevant ministry, while nonprofit companies register with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Supply. [2] Despite changes to the Law on Societies, operational barriers for CSOs in Jordan remain.

According to a report by the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, some of the challenges CSOs continue to face include the requirement to have government consent for the formation of an organization, limited access to national and international funding, and regulation of public gatherings. [3] The report also highlights the “absence of a regular, ongoing dialogue between the government and CSOs, and a lack of public mechanisms to regulate the relationship and encourage partnership.” [4]

In the action plan, the government recognizes the lack of trust between both parties and says it is “the result of poor prior dialogue and participatory practices in decision-making.” The government also cites “complaints about the weak governance framework at CSOs.” [5] This commitment, then, aims to develop an effective partnership government and civil society.

Originally, the IRM recommended the commitment in the 2016–2018 report, specifically to improve the ability of CSOs to obtain funds. [6] The recommendation emphasized removing the restrictions on pre-approval for foreign funding for civil society organizations. Since the commitment deals with a review of procedures for approval of foreign funding and standards for transparency of CSOs, it is relevant to open civic space.

This commitment includes three milestones that deal with the CSO operating environment. The first milestone aims to review procedures to approve foreign funding for CSOs and is key to facilitating clarity on the approval process. This step is critical, as it impacts CSO operation and functioning.

The second milestone aims to create standards of governance to improve the transparency of CSOs’ work. According to the action plan, implementation could include establishment and monitoring of financial transparency standards. Based on interviews with governmental officials, this milestone stems from concern about the lack of transparency and “risks for corruption” within CSOs.

The third milestone aims to launch a voluntary civil society strategy in partnership with government and donors to define development priorities and avoid duplication of efforts. According to a Ministry of Social Development representative, this milestone is meant to encourage CSOs to work closer and to link foreign funding to development goals. This could help avoid duplication, facilitate submission of stronger proposals for receiving foreign funding, and allow better coordination with governmental entities. [7]

While the resulting deliverables are potentially verifiable, some limitations exist to understanding which areas of CSO governance standards will be voluntary and which will be required by law, and the extent to which access to funding will be facilitated. Considering these shortcomings, the potential impact for this commitment is coded as moderate. If implemented, this commitment has the potential to establish a permanent dialogue between both parties to address some of the broader reforms needed to enhance civic space and eliminate CSO barriers to entry.

Next Steps

The IRM views this commitment as an opportunity to establish a permanent dialogue mechanism that strengthens civil society’s role in public life and ultimately helps address restrictions on civic space. The IRM suggests that this policy area continue to be included in future action plans. However, in doing so, the IRM also recommends that a “do no harm principle” is observed to ensure that changes in the legal framework and practices do not become more burdensome or inadvertently increase barriers for civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate freely.

In the three areas the current commitment aims to address (funding, governance, and cooperation), the IRM recommends that international best practices and standards are observed:

  • Funding:
    • Ensure legal ability to carry out fundraising activities.
    • Enable access to international resources without the need for registration, prior government approval of the resource (including through the registration of donors), or the requirement to channel funding through a state-controlled entity. [8]
  • Governance and transparency:
    • Foster a safe space for voluntary self-assessments to improve CSO accountability. The IRM suggests considering tools like the Rendir App as a possible approach to this work in the future. Initiatives like the Rendir App are self-assessment resources that aim to improve CSO accountability and align with international standards. [9]
    • Observe principles of proportionality. Ensure that any governance requirements prescribed by law are proportional to the size and scope of different types of organizations.
    • Make reporting requirements proportional to the size and scope of different types of CSOs, and ensure they are not more burdensome than requirements for other legal entities. [10]
  • CSO-government dialogue and cooperation:
    • Experts recommend that engagement and cooperation between government and civil society be guided by a strategic framework that enables collaboration across areas such as policymaking, ongoing dialogue, and concerted development initiatives. Countries such as Croatia and Estonia have adopted similar initiatives. Croatia’s National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for CSO Development included pillars on institutional and legal framework strengthening, improving participatory democracy, and strengthening the role of civil society in social and economic development. [11] Most recently, Croatia included three commitments in its 2018–2020 action plan aimed at strengthening civil society engagement. This work was in line with the national strategy for CSO development. [12]
[1] “Jordan,” Civic Freedom Monitor, Resources, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, http://www.icnl.org/research/monitor/jordan.html.
[2] “2016 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index for the Middle East and North Africa,” US Agency for International Development, https://www.usaid.gov/middle-east-civil-society/2016.
[3] Ahmad M. Awad and Rania Sarayra, Enabling Environment National Assessment: Jordan (New York: Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies), https://www.civicus.org/images/EENA_Jordan_En.pdf.
[4] Awad and Sarayra, Enabling Environment National Assessment: Jordan.
[5] The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, The Fourth National Action Plan 2018–2020 under the Open Government Partnership Initiative (OGP), 31 October 2018, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/jordan-action-plan-2018-2020/
[6] Open Government Partnership, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Jordan Progress Report 2016–2018, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Jordan_Midterm_Report_2016-2018_for-public-comment.pdf.
[7] Contacts at Ministry of Social Development and Companies Control Department, interview by IRM researcher.
[8] International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, OGP: The Guide to Opening Government: An Enabling Environment for Civil Society Organizations, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/OGP-ICNL_Guide-Opening-Government_20180508.pdf
[10] International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, OGP: The Guide to Opening Government, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/OGP-ICNL_Guide-Opening-Government_20180508.pdf.
[11] Government of the Republic of Croatia, National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development from 2012 to 2016, https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/AboutUs/CivilSociety/ReportHC/states/5_Croatia_National%20Strategy-Civil%20Society-Croatia-2012-2016-eng.pdf.
[12] See Croatia’s 2018–2020 OGP Design Report for detailed recommendations on Commitments 5, 12, and 14, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Croatia_Design_Report_2018-2020_EN.pdf.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership