The Arvin Framework Measuring An Enabling Environment For Csos International Law Essay

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CSOs have a vital role to play in promoting community development. Some of these roles are encouraging general public consensus, promoting reforms and working on poverty reduction, help building common ground for understanding, and promote cooperation between public and private sectors and helps in giving a voice to the poor and marginalized groups in society, provide ideas and innovative solutions to meet the challenges of development; provide professional expertise and services, particularly areas suffering from post-conflict situations or humanitarian crises; and many other roles. There are certain conditions must be present for CSOs to develop capacity and perform these roles. These conditions promote the growth of civil society and enhance their ability to participate in dialogue on policy and program implementation. There are many systems to measure the capability and effectiveness of CSOs. One methodological tool that achieves a high level of integration is ARVIN, a tool developed by the World Bank's Participation and Social Engagement Group, and already applied in a number of countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The acronym ARVIN stands for a measurement system that looks at civil society capacity with an emphasis on civic engagement, social accountability, service delivery and the factors that influence the effectiveness and sustainability of CSOs (World Bank, 2007; Anheier, 2007). It can be applied to specific foci such as culture, and adapted to fields as arts education. This tool defines four dimensions that should be taken into consideration in assessing the environment for CSO capacity: the legal and regulatory framework, the political and governance context, the socio-cultural characteristics, and the economic conditions in a given country. Through measuring the freedom of citizens to associate, the CSO ability to mobilize resources to fulfil their objectives, their ability to formulate and express opinion, their ability to exercise voice and the existence of spaces and rules of engagement for negotiation, participation and public debate. The ARVIN framework designed to assess enabling environments for civic engagement examine and describe conditions such as policy and regulatory provisions, political processes, socio-cultural and economic factors in order to find answers for the extant of NGOs to fulfil its functions and achieve its goals as an agent in the development process, what are the different kind of conditions necessary for NGOs to work and sustain such as regulations, policies, financial resources and other institutional factors and what Actions can be taken to improve conditions for civic engagement. In this research I will use the ARVIN framework in order to measure the enabling environment for Arts NGOs working in Egypt to understand the extent of the effectiveness and usefulness Arts NGOs projects implementation in Egypt.

Chapter one

The legal restrictions to civil society organizations- Key obstacles to free association

When considering the challenges that CSOs experience as a result of government policies and regulations, it is necessary to understand the legal position of the State today. The civil society sector is identified as a State partner in development. Nevertheless, there remains an enormous gap between the intentions stated in the political discourse and the reality on the ground. The role of NGOs must be understood as part of a community Activity within the State and not as believed by many against the State. The government in Act No. 84 of 2002 dealt with NGOs as a danger of power surrounding the State and must be faced- and as a respond by many NGOs, they rejected the idea of a law regulating their work on the same basis. The government is considers an imaginary construction infused with the political system where the NGOs exist to maintain the free expression of individuals and groups. The problem then, is not the elimination of one party to another, but rather to fill the gap as well as to connect the sectors with different levels of development. Community organizations become a tool for feedback of power through the Activities of civil society and a source of information necessary for the planning of development. The Act No. 84 of 2002 is believed by many Activists’ viewpoints suppress the volunteer work and displays the civil society organizations to risk, as it is considered one of the most restrictive laws in Egypt. Since Act 84/2002 entered into force in mid-2003, it gave the opportunity to the government to control different level of CSOs operation. CSOs of all kinds have faced crucial issues because of this law such as gaining registration number, obtaining funding authorization, the interference by the government and security forces in the CSOs Activities. This Act affected the work of civil society organizations and considers being a restriction of fundamental rights to freedom of association. As well as the Security services role which exercises considerable influence over all operations relating to registration, funding and activities of non-governmental organizations, without a legal basis behind the provision of maintenance of public order, through a broad mandate granted to them through the application of emergency law [1] (Human Rights Watch, 2004).

Legal obstacles faced by NGOs in Act 84/2002

Registration

For an NGO to be legal, it must be registered with the state. While some NGOs try to avoid registration, many find it almost impossible to operate successfully without the government-issued NGO identification number. The many who do decide to register have to go through the MOSS , which Article 2 of Law 84 established as the government authority to approve or disapprove NGO registrations. Registration is mandatory under Law 84 for any group that has more than ten members and exists "for a purpose other than gaining physical profit." (Law 84/2002) The registration process is considered a time-consuming and subject to full discretionary of the MOSS, Act 84 allows the government to deny the legal foundations of an NGO, and allows the government to regulate not just the formal existence of NGOs but also their goals and intentions. Article 11 of Law 84 is specifically used to prevent the registration of NGOs based on what their goals are perceived to be. Also reject registration applications based on vague reasons such as the account that the objectives of the NGO constitute a "threatening national unity or violating public order or morals." Sometimes the rejection is that the NGO work includes any political Activity. The vague provisions of 'threatening' in article 11 provide generous loopholes for arbitrary interpretations as to the grounds on which an NGO or its Activities can be declared illegal. Additionally, when NGOs try to fight rejections based on Article 11 grounds, they often receive little additional justification for their rejections, or face lengthy court battles that can drain their funding. While the legal power lies with the Ministry, in practice everything considered being of political significance is automatically referred to the secret services, which exercise an extra-legal role in this regard. This, in turn, makes it impossible to take legal measures against their decisions. In order to escape the harsh limitations under Law 84, NGOs register in the legal form of a law firm, a non-profit company or a research centre, among others. Others establish themselves as branches of Europe-based paper companies. Yet others undertake a year-long struggle finally to be registered under the Associations Law.

Monitoring

If an NGO successfully navigates the challenge of registration with the Ministry, it faces additional hurdles in operation. Law 84 allows the government freedom of interference in almost all NGO Activities, with the threat of dissolution always looming in the background. According to Article 25, the Ministry entitled to assign a representative to attend the organization's meetings and even call a meeting of the general assembly." The Ministry also requires that the NGO send the Ministry a copy of the minutes from each meeting within thirty days of it taking place. Regulation of Activity is also attained through rules regarding the composition and number of board members. While the Ministry of Social Solidarity is formally in charge of NGO affairs, in practice it deals with their daily matters by permanent interference through the State Security Investigations (SSI) via demands, questions, orders etc. The SSI interferes massively in any matter of political significance and plays a central role in determining the fate of NGOs. Its interference is greatest with regard to politically significant issues such as the decision over whether to register new association nominate board members or allow foreign funding. Crucially, the massive interference by the SSI lacks any legal foundation. The SSI de fActo controls not only the registration of new groups but also implements a policy of systematic monitoring and harassment of existing NGOs. In practical terms, the influence and harassment of both the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the SSI are being felt by NGOs on a daily basis. The harassment of NGOs by secret service agents also creates additional funding problems: whenever private businessmen want to donate funds to one of those NGOs, they are systematically harassed, and on many occasions this has led them to withdraw the funds.

Funding

Another realm in which the Ministry exercises great control is the funding of NGOs. The law gives the Ministry exclusive authority to control NGOs' management of finances. This provision raises the question of credibility. Many NGOs have come to rely on foreign funding to keep their organizations running, since domestic sources of funding are often few and far between. However, according to Article 17, Associations have the right to receive donations only following the approval of the Ministry of Social Solidarity MOSS. Permission from the Ministry is required for all funding from foreign sources. Also, there are strict protocols regarding the transfer of foreign funds, one of which stipulates that all foreign funds must be deposited into designated bank accounts during the review period, none of which the NGO can access. The law also states that the Ministry must give its final decision within sixty days. However, since the NGO cannot access any of the funds during this period, the waiting period can often drive the NGO to insolvency. As to obtain funds from foreigner entity the law indicates that it cannot happen without the permission of the Minister of Social Solidarity himself. Moreover, Fund raising campaigns such as organizing fairs and public events to collect money also require prior approval and complex procedures that are controlled by the Ministry of Social Solidarity. CSOs argue that proper registration of an NGO and the Ministry's yearly financial monitoring is enough to control any misuse of donations and that the process of approval and allocation of such funds should be placed rather under the supervision of the General Federation of NGOs.

Penalties

Violation of the law can result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and the involuntary dissolution of the association. Setting up an association whose Activities are determined to be "clandestine" is punishable by up to a year in prison and up to LE 10,000 in fines. However, Activities that are prohibited in Article 11 are not clearly defined, that many NGOs are subject to penalty without being clearly forewarned of their illegal Activity ( Agati, 2002), leaving the MOSS discretion to determine whether a violation has occurred. For example, Activities are prohibited if they are deemed to threaten national unity or violate the public order or morals, as the dissolution of associations is regulated in articles 41-47 of Law 84/2002. The decision can be taken by the Ministry of Social Solidarity and does not require a court ruling. In order to appeal the decision, the NGO may not go to court directly but must first take the case to a three person dispute committee. If the committee has not decided on the issue within sixty days, the NGO may take the issue to the Administrative Court according to article 7.

The effect of Act 84/2002 over the Arts NGOs in particular

The effect of Act 84/2002 over the Arts NGOs is deeper than the rest of organisation in this context, as there are three of the former main obstacles which have a bigger impact on Arts NGOs in particular and they are the lack of freedom which is represented in the constant interference from the SSI, the prohibiting of practice certain Activities and the restrains over the foreign funds. The Arts for development work are considered in a constant threat under the Act No. 162 of 1958 of the emergency law, where the first section of article three of this allows the government to restrict freedom of assembly, movement and residence and to hold and detain persons suspected of posing a threat to security and public order as it has the right to search individuals and places without adherence to the "Code of Criminal Procedure. It is true that this section does not affect the arts organizations particularly; however, it raise concerns to everyone exposed to this law. The impact of such a law on the culture generated through its application across more than thirty years, which created and effected an entire generation. One of the most notable consequences of this culture is the fear of assembly in a practical regulatory framework, as well as the fear of substantive exposure to religion, politics and sexual subjects. It is true that, this happens in many contexts of arts works, but requires several conditions to make this prohibited element as a minor one. The lack of substantive exposure to any of these items not only generated from the culture of the practice of law but also to verbal orders issued by the State Security Service officers, to any of those who are being interviewed for the verbal statement to either complete the registration procedures for their organization, or begin a new project for the organization. It remains to indicate that this verbal approval or rejection remain without evidence of any of them, and become easily to unalterable at any time. Thus, a comprehensive and effective area of practising freedom, which affect the development process for Arts NGOs become closed by using the emergency law, as well as the ideas of projects of this category of organizations, suffer from lacking diversity and become closer to the typical rather than effectiveness, and closer to superficial rather than depth and impact sustainability. The funding difficulties faced by Arts NGOs due to cultural and social reasons, which will be discussed in another chapter, has a remarkable distinct from those faced by other institutions, where it becomes essential to rely on foreign funders, whether governmental or nongovernmental for achieving efficiency and sustainability. Foreign funding is often appended to any unwanted NGO by the authorities as an unjustified stigma hunting of reputation of that organization, hoping to undermine its work with the organisation expected target group through the promotion of the concept that foreign funds are always contaminated with the objectives of sabotage and occupying force, and therefore, those who work in this organization are a group of traitors, agents and spies for foreign powers, and so the operational plans for any project could be jeopardize once it labelled by foreign funding, and that labelled organization does not lose just a project, but lose its credibility among the society as well as with the funders, following this failure which is difficult to be justified by documentation.

Chapter two

Egyptian NGOs resources barriers

One of the key factors that affect the effective management and sustainability of non-governmental organizations is the continuity of provision of funding from donors. The attention increased recently to the need to increase the financial resources for non-governmental organizations, in order to activate the role they can play in promoting the development process and improve the quality of services they are providing to public and to increase their ability to achieve the goals they aiming for. Funding the NGOs is one of the most influential factors worthy of study, as it is considered the main engine for their various activities, which the efficiency of the services provided by the association relies on the adequacy of funding directed to it. The purpose of funding for NGOs is to find the funds necessary for the maintenance of all administrative processes and the various Activities and programs of the organization. Funding difficulties is one of the fundamental problems that faced by non- Governmental organizations in Arab countries, consistent with the level of development of society, and political circumstances, social conditions and lack of resources available. Private sector, is supposed to be the primary source of CSOs funding, and expresses support for the social needs provided by these organizations. But the fact that this source is facing several obstacles to a sprouting: that existing legislation does not encourage such a move as existing in developed countries such as a deduction from the container and also of the scarcity of institutions involved in providing support to civil society organizations. One of these obstacles as well as the absence of this tradition as an orientation in the position to do so, and the departure of the main part of their contributions to support humanitarian activities.

Domestic funding problem

The private sector internationally is considered a major source of funding to the third sector in order to promote and support development projects; however in Egypt the situation is different, as this sector donation for serving community development is consider limited compared with what is expected due to various reasons such as the policy restrictions and interferences from the government and SSI, the absence of tax relief on funding submissions for NGOs, The existence of other forms of contribution and donation relating to religion which makes the opportunity directed to services, other than direct assistance to individuals and families impossible. The religious NGOs (Muslim and Christian) are considered in the forefront of national voluntary associations which do not suffer from the problem of funding due to their ability of mobilizing their resources such as the Zakat contributions [2] which is a religion obligation for Muslims who are considered the majority in Egypt, as this financial recourse significantly contributes in operating several charitable and religious organizations.

Foreign funding problems

It should be noted that the issue of foreign funding is a serious issue raised on the Egyptian arena for a long time, especially with limited sources of funding. This issue can be summarized in that non-governmental organizations in Egypt cannot accept funds from foreign organizations or governments under certain circumstances as it consider illegal. The government consider the foreign funding for local NGOs in a certain situation as a potential plan for achieving political reorientation of the public away from government control. Varied views on this issue were divided between supporters and opponents. The most weighty arguments in favour as follows: the world in light of globalization has become a small village, where the information available to all, where there is no longer be concealed. The funding for the service of citizens are allowed in all countries of the world, while the funding is only prohibited covert funding or targeted for political Activity. Also, recipients deal with donors on the basis of the stated purposes or objectives, so convergence of interests may be a significant reason to provide funding. Opposing views has subjected CSOs to accusations that the foreign funding is presented in order to implement hidden foreign agendas and that these CSOs representing a homogeneous bloc of Western interests seeking to dominate Egypt. This perspective in turn "creates a 'siege mentality'" among actors who believe they are acting in the government and state's national interests As was presented in the previous chapter it is considered illegal to obtain a foreign fund without the explicit authorization from the Ministry of Social Solidarity and this authorization may take up to sixty days while the fund is frozen and cannot be touched by the NGO. The government's ability to block approval of foreign funding is a powerful weapon. Many Egyptian organizations rely heavily on the support of donor organizations based outside of Egypt, a source of nationalist sensitivity. Foreign funding is an issue regularly demonized by the government and the media, even though the government itself is a major recipient of foreign aid. A significant extra-legal implementation practice relates to the involvement of security services in the foreign funding determinations. The Law clearly does not require the approval of the security services. NGO representatives, however, report that the Ministry of Social Solidarity does not approve foreign funding applications without their approval. Some also added that the process often involves coordination between the chiefs of security departments in different governorates. Many believe that the approval of security departments is a green light for the Ministry to officially approve the funding. Reportedly, reservations made by security departments in some ministries make obtaining the approval of the security department in the Ministry of Social Solidarity impossible (Sharaf, 2004). Therefore, the arbitrary procedures and laws in this context, is considered a waste of existing opportunities, funding is not required for its own, but it must contribute in solving the problem of society and be a contributing factor to the role of government in assisting the association (Nafie, 2001). As a result, Egyptian CSOs are facing serious challenges relating to financial sustainability and the continuity of their activities (Kahalil & Mourad, 2007).

The effect of the financial issues over Arts NGOs work in Egypt

As all NGOs, the arts NGOs face problems in funding,but this problem affect these NGOs better than others as for social and culture reasons Arts NGOs have a very limited access to the private sector fund. One of the main activities carried out by Arts NGOs is to hold various forms of celebrating events, perhaps the primary purpose of the holding some of these events is for developing financail resources by using diffrent ways , but remains one of the most common ways in the world is selling tickets.The fact that Act No. 84 of 2002, section 18 indicate that: "The assosiation in order to realize its purposes and reinforce its financial resources, may set up service and productive projects, celebrations, charity, exhibation, and sport games". But the law in Article 59 of its executive regulations regarding parties or celebrations gives the organization only one party a year exempt from income tax, the tax regulated by Act No. 24 of 1999, the tax is collected from the direct income resulting from the sales of the tickets and not from the profit, and this force the organizers of the ceremony to raise the prices of the ticket to compensate what will be deducted for the tax, as well as compensation for potential losses if they are not selling full tickets, Moreover, the same law states in Article seven that: "exploiters of performances and concerts from the temporary set up in places not owned by them and are not intended by nature to create presentations or parties constantly, a deposit of cash or providing a letter of guarantee or cashier's check accepted from an accredited banks equals the amount of tax due on the ticket, submitted for stamping on the basis of place full capacity to settle the due tax within three days from the date of the event. " Thus, the organization that maintains a party or celebration paying the tax of the tickets sale in advance and refund the tax on unsold tickets after the end of the ceremony which is considered a deliberately bureaucracy from the government to disrupt this work. All that is considered a heavy burden to those who want to organize a party from any Arts NGOs and Organization in this case cannot find a way other than adding a substantial portion of this burden to the public, which may be in most cases, is targeted by the ceremony, and this public in most cases, are members of the poor level of the society, where the ticket price, which has become expensive, become an economic burden on any of the members of the public to pay and thus pushes him to refrain from buying it. It should also be noted that, only one party a year exempt from tax, may be sufficient for general civil organizations, as may be the focus of the organizers of the party is on marketing it to the rich classes in society and thus get a strong source to support and maintain the activities of his organisation. As for the Arts organizations, celebrating events for them not consider exceptional activity to increase their finical resource but an essential activity of artistic and cultural service to the disadvantaged public, In other words, art events appear to the legislature just an entertainment activity and a core activity in the work of arts organizations.
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