Civil society concerned about the abolition of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society

Belgrade, October 30, 2020 


Civil society concerned about the abolition of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society

Civil society organizations (CSOs) demand that the Government of the Republic of Serbia provide sufficient resources and formal competencies for mechanisms aimed at involving citizens in decision-making processes. We also request that the Government explain why the decision to abolish the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, as well as reduce the existing competencies within the new Ministry, was made through a completely non-transparent process, without adequate consultations with civil society.

One decade after its founding, with the adoption of the Law on Ministries and the establishment of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society was disbanded as a government service with a coordinating role in ensuring cooperation between the civil sector and all parts of the public sector. Civic Initiatives, together with our civil society colleagues, worked for years to establish the institution of the Office, which was a mechanism for improving cooperation between all ministries and civil society organizations.

Although part of the Office’s responsibilities have been transferred to the new Ministry, it has not been sufficiently clearly explained to the public why relations with civil society are placed under the auspices of one ministry. This significantly narrows the space for constructive cooperation between all public authorities and the civil sector, which, according to the standards of the European Union, should involve much more than a dialogue. It remains to be seen how the policy of citizens’ participation in the preparation of regulations will be implemented in the future practice of the Ministry, with respect to the basic principles outlined in the Guidelines on the Inclusion of CSOs in the Regulation Adoption Process. The Office has established standards in this area, and the lowering of these standards will reduce the actual impact of CSOs on the quality and content of legal regulations. Also, within the scope of the new Ministry, there are no competencies related to the collection and publication of information on the public financing of civil society organizations. In this way, an important mechanism for controlling the transparency of how these budget allocations are spent has been abolished. At the same time, the very important role the Office plays in ensuring citizens’ participation in the preparation of legal regulations by ministries and local governments has been abolished.

Even though this was not stipulated in the Law on Ministries, we also expect that the Government will ensure that the Ministry of Human Rights and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue takes on every employee from the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, as is the case with employees from the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy, as well as the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government. Otherwise, the processes the Office is currently participating in or implementing will inevitably be interrupted or slowed down.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, which has, since its establishment, despite the constant reduction of its resources and its limited competencies, achieved results in opening state institutions to civil society.



  1. ADRA Serbia
  2. AS – Center for the Empowerment Youth of people who are living with HIV and AIDS
  3. Association Rainbow
  4. ASTRA- Anti trafficking action
  5. Belgrade Pride
  6. Belgrade Open School
  7. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) 
  8. Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
  9. Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI)
  10. CANVAS
  11. Catalyst Balkans
  12. European Policy Centre (CEP)
  13. Center for Monitoring & Activism (CEMA) 
  14. Centre for Peace Kragujevac
  15. Policy Center
  16. Child Rights Centre
  17. Center for Democratic Development “Europolis”
  18. Center for Rule of Law (CVP)
  19. CINS
  20. Đorđe Popović, program coordinator of BFPE and former employee of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society.
  21. Educational Center Kruševac
  22. Ecological Movement of Odžaci
  23. EKONEC portal
  24. European Movement in Serbia
  25. Humanitarian Law Center
  26. Civic Initiatives
  27. Group COME OUT
  28. Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
  29. Youth Initiative for Human Rights
  30. SPARK initiative for additional support
  31. DamaD Cultural Center
  32. Labris – lesbian human rights organization
  33. Libero
  34. Link plus
  35. Media and Reform Center Nis
  36. Drug Policy Network South East Europe
  37. National Coalition for Decentralization
  38. Non-Smoking Educational Center
  39. Independent Journalist Association of Serbia
  40. Novi Sad School of Journalism
  41. Novi Sad Humanitarian Center
  42. Youth Center CK13
  43. Partners Serbia
  44. Podrinje Anti-Corruption Team Pact
  45. Portal Dijalog Net
  46. Praxis
  47. Proaktiv
  48. Radio Zlatousti
  49. Res Publica
  50. Sandzak Committee for Human Rights
  51. Sanitary Ecological Society
  52. Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation
  53. Serbia On the Move
  54. Timok Youth Center
  55. Trag Foundation
  56. Association Dialogue
  57. Association Fenomena 
  58. Citizens’ Association RIME Zaječar
  59. Lilith Association
  60. Association People’s Parliament 
  61. Citizens’ Association Balkan Urban Movement
  62. Citizens’ Association Ecological Society “Bujanovac”
  63. Citizens’ Association “Eurocontact”
  64. Citizens’ Association Go-Change
  65. Citizens’ Association VIDO Kragujevac
  66. Board of Directors of the Association “Independent Cultural Scene in Serbia”
  67. Urban-in
  68. Association of Women Sandglass
  69. Vojvodina Civic Centre
  70. Women for Peace Leskovac
  71. YUCOM
  72. WEBIN
  73. National Youth Council (KOMS)