The Egyptian Alliance stipulates a moral covenant for NGOs

July 3rd, 2008 by Editor

At the end of a workshop held by The Egyptian Organization For Human Rights (EOHR)and the German Freidrich Naumann Foundation supported by the European Union in the framework of “ The Egyptian Alliance for the Freedom of NGOs “ on 2/7/2008 at Sheaphard hotel , members of the Egyptian Alliance stipulated a moral covenant for NGOs

 

 This covenant aims at developing the relationship between NGOs and governmental bodies and enhancing the credibility of civil society organizations upon the public opinion and mass. 

 

 

 

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada Secretary-General of EOHR clarified that the idea of stipulating an attitude Blog for civilian work was discussed by NGOs representatives of some Arab countries  in a wide regional meeting adopted by Freidrich Naumann Foundation in Lebanon June 2008 .

 

Abu Seada added that the Egyptian Alliance for the Freedom of NGOs falls within the framework of EOHR’s campaign for NGO rights and freedoms and in its efforts to amend Law No. 84 of 2002, in collaboration with the German Freidrich Naumann Foundation supported by the European Union. The campaign began its work in March 2008.  It includes north and south governorates to discuss the concept of civil work and the role of NGOs in supporting the community as a partner in development.  It also examines the constraints and challenges which face NGOs and how to overcome them, and hopes to replace Law No. 84 of 2002 . He indicated that this workshop is considered the first work of the Egyptian alliance in the governorates as it includes a group of human rights activists and  NGOs representatives in 4 governorates (Cairo, Helwan, Giza, Kalubia)  to discuss the new bill prepared by EOHR and challenges that face the civil work in Egypt .

 

 

As for the challenges of civil work in Egypt , Mr. Kamal Abas , director of the Center For Trade Union & Workers’ Services , indicated that the challenges which face the civil work are divided into two aspects : first , legal challenges as laws which organize the civil work  still impose restrictions on civil society organizations and rely on the philosophy of submission to the government . This philosophy doesn’t suppose the existence of separate space for civil society detached from the State , however the law –according to this philosophy – doesn’t aim at organizing the work of NGOs as far as it organizes the domination of the government .Abas indicated that the second aspect is  represented in the government domination beyond the law . There is a stifling atmosphere  that surround the civil work created by the political life entries and illegal practicing for the governmental bodies , besides the despotic heritage of the state which enjoys with the absolute powers to impose restrictions on civil society organizations .

 

As for challenges which face the civil work in its relationship with the international organizations , Dr. Magdy Abdul Hamid , chairman of board of trustees of The Egyptian Association For Community Participation Enhancement , confirmed that the relationship between civil society organizations ( active organizations  according to law No.84 2002 )and the international institutions is divided into two aspects :   

 The first aspect includes the membership of international or regional  organizations , bodies , networks , associations or unions which share     the Egyptian civil society organizations in goals and visions .The membership belongs to one of these organizations for the purpose of joint action  and executing a common aims on the international , regional , or local level .These organizations are as follows :

 

— Arab Network for NGOs for development.
— Euro-Mediterranean Network of Human Rights.
— International Federation for Human Rights.
— Euro-Mediterranean Civil Forum.

 

Abdul Hamid added that , Article 16 of law No. 84 /2002 regulates this kind of relations as it stipulates that “ The association may join or participate or affiliate with a club or association or body or organization outside the Arab Republic of Egypt and practice an activity inconsistent with its purposes provided that it notifies the administrative side and waiting the response  60 days from the date of notification “. He indicated that the law ( according to this article )prohibits joining or participating in any international civil organization without a prior notification  from the administrative side .  A written request must be submitted and waiting the reply during 60 days .If  there is no objection , joining will be accepted ,but law doesn’t show if the administrative side rejected the request , how  does the organization behave in such a situation !!and what are the controllers that govern the reasons for rejection or acceptance.

 

The second type of relations, according to Dr.. Abdul Hamid, includes the relationship between the Assembly or the institution of civil Egyptian and international donors, and this type of relations in turn divided into two parts: the first part : regulate the relationship with international donors outside Egypt, and this relationship was organized by Article (17) of law  84 which states ” The association is allowed to receive donations and may collect donations from natural persons or legal persons after taking a prior permission from the administrative side in accordance with the executive regulation  .As for the second part , it represented in the relationship  with the international donors  sides that have representation in Egypt . The law organizes this relation in Article 1 which stipulated that “The international NGOs are being established on the basis of law or international conventions concluded by the Arab Republic of Egypt and practicing the activities submitted to the rules of law “.

 

the executive regulation comes to  organize  the relation between the Egyptian civil associations and the international organizations as Article 56 of the law stipulates that “ Association is allowed to receive donations inside Egypt from normal persons whatever the nature of money and also the association is allowed to get donations from foreign organizations which were allowed to practice its activities in Egypt in accordance with the ratified agreement as articles (3,4,5) of this regulation stipulated after notifying  the administrative side with the value of donation and the donors sides .

 

As for the interior challenges which face the civil society organizations , Mrs. Rahmah Refaat ,Center For Trade Union & Workers’ services ,indicated that there is an unbalanced growth of the civil society organizations , the traditional concept for associations is still related to the charitable nature , and among the most prominent results of this unbalanced growth is the disparity between services organizations and human rights  organizations . This disparity is increased by the executive and administrative bodies  deliberately to prevent the integration of the civil society  largely or predominantly in order not to ask for its rights and freedoms .

 

Mrs. Rahmah added that despite the increasing number of civil society associations ( 20000 associations ) in Egypt during the previous years , there are reasons that prevented the growth of performance and influence practiced by the these associations, perhaps the most notable are :

 

-Legal , governmental and administrative restrictions imposed on these associations which are increased unimaginably in other governorates and villages .

       The main target of the establishers of these association turned away to just give a direct aid( similar to Almsgiving)or services  .

       Inexperienced leaders who undertake tasks and activities in these associations .

       The weakness of capabilities and resources available for these associations if it is not related to a political group .

 

At the end of the meeting, the Egyptian alliance agreed to open a dialogue  with State bodies to discuss restrictions imposed on civil society organizations .This dialogue is based on the principle of establishing freedom and civil society independence . 

 

Members of alliance recommend the following :

       The necessary for strengthen the role of civil society in Egypt .

       Confirming the independence of civil society organization through adopting  a liberal philosophy for activity and registration and management .

       The necessary for working as a teamwork to prevent the recurrence of the activity and making the best use of resources .

       The importance of supporting the principles of transparency, accountability and governance within civil society organizations .

       Supporting the role of general assemblies as a high power to monitor and control the mechanism of activities and management.

       Satisfying with the Penal Code to confront all forms of violations against legitimacy and law when managing NGOs .

       Canceling the negative punishment for freedom in association law to encourage the voluntary work .

 

It is noteworthy that the number of members of the Egyptian Alliance for the freedom of NGOs are 90 associations in 18 governorates namely (Cairo, Giza, Helwan, Kalubia, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, Damietta, Al Behirah, Menofiya, Fayoum, Dakahlia, Kafr El-Sheikh, Assiut, Menya, Beni Suef, Gharbia, Ismailia) .Other associations are being invited throughout the Republic to join the Egyptian Alliance .

 

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