Civil Society Gains Traction in Kyrgyzstan

A USAID-produced how-to manual supports civil society efforts to engage with Parliament.
USAID supported the development and publication of a reader-friendly manual on how civil society can lobby members of parliament more effectively.
How-to manual promotes interaction with parliament
“The manual …provides insight to the [parliament] and strengthens the capacity of NGOs working with [it].”

Kyrgyzstan's June 2010 constitutional referendum, which came only weeks after violent political change and interethnic violence, was intended to increase government accountability and transparency, and increase citizen participation in initiating and discussing draft laws with the newly formed parliament. By the following year, however, 77 percent of the population still did not understand how to work with the parliament, according to a 2011 survey by the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society.

Moreover, few civil society organizations (CSOs) understood how the parliament functions or how to access and lobby its members.

In response, International Center Interbilim, a leading civil society advocate, approached USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives with the idea to develop a manual intended to increase citizen participation in public decision-making by teaching CSOs the tools and procedures for interacting with parliament.

“Involving representatives of communities, vulnerable groups, citizen associations and businesses in the legislative process should lead to the adoption of effective and popular laws, decisions and programs,” said Anna Kirilenko and Jibek Koichukulova of Interbilim.

From October 2012 to January 2013, USAID supported the development and publication of the manual in a simple, reader-friendly format for distribution among CSOs, parliament and law school faculties across the country. Interbilim followed the distribution with two presentations on how to use the manual to CSOs, local government and media outlets in Bishkek and Osh. Many CSOs, as well as USAID’s implementing partners, requested additional copies for their counterparts. Due to popular demand, the publication will be reprinted and distributed to wider audiences in the summer of 2013.

“The manual … provides insight to the [parliament] and strengthens the capacity of NGOs working with [it],” said Alina Stepanova of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy project in Kyrgyzstan.

To further promote civic participation in the political process, USAID is also supporting Interbilim and the Liberal Youth Alliance in a nationwide advocacy campaign to reform the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as a case study to evaluate and improve civil society advocacy campaigns designed to influence legislation.

Last updated: March 09, 2015

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