From October 30th to November 1st, BCSDN members’ representatives gathered for a productive workshop in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, addressing crucial developments in the civil society enabling environment in Western Balkans and Turkey. Following the previous workshops in Berlin and Podgorica, this session continued revising the BCSDN Monitoring Matrix Toolkit, focusing on key areas, standards, and indicators. BCSDN members engaged in meaningful discussions and collaborated effectively over two days. The workshop was co-facilitated by Mr. Luben Panov, Legal Advisor at ECNL, the European Center for Not-For-Profit Law Stichting, who actively participated in the revision of the BCSDN Monitoring Matrix Toolkit and provided guidance to BCSDN members, ensuring the effective incorporation of the MM Methodology changes.
The workshop began with an exploration of critical issues faced by civil societies in the region, such as criminalization of defamation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CTF) concerns in Serbia, and Kosovo, the issued regarding the Law on registration of NPOs in Albania, lack of collaboration between government and CSOs in North Macedonia, state interference and attacks on CSOs and media in Turkey, etc. Several overarching issues were also discussed, including stigmatization, digital rights, and equal treatment of CSOs with businesses.
The second day of the workshop involved group discussions on specific topics like AML/ CTF regulation, open and secure civic spaces, and sectoral cooperation. Participants shared challenges and best practices related to the Monitoring Matrix data collection, analysis, and reporting. They emphasized the importance of accurate survey data, transparent reporting, and effective advocacy and communications strategies to engage donors, media, and the public. Challenges faced during MM implementation were discussed, along with innovative tools and practices utilized for monitoring civil society activities.
During the communication and advocacy session led by BCSDN EO representatives, BCSDN members shared their strategies, challenges and practices in promotion and visualization of the results of the Monitoring Matrix reports. The discussion also included key points on data cleaning, strategic media partnerships, and plans for the future, highlighting proactive advocacy efforts.
Overall, the Monitoring Matrix Revision Workshop provided a platform for members to exchange insights, address challenges, and plan future national and regional advocacy efforts, and showcased the collective commitment of BCSDN members to pursue efforts for a more civil society enabling environment and heard CSOs’ voices across the region.