New Skills and Tools for Civil Society in Serbia

Belgrade, May 28, 2024 – The civil society summit titled “Building resilience for a changing civic space” gathered and engaged over 100 key representatives from civil society, government ministries, oversight institutions, and academia. This was a chance to share views and discuss examples of collective action, identify pathways in which civil society can influence positive changes, and learn how it can be prepared for new developments in the environment.

Tomislav Žigmanov, Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, pointed out that the Ministry recognizes the important role that civil society plays in the most diverse areas of social action. “Last year, the Council for the creation of an encouraging environment for the development of civil society was established, that, at the proposal of the Ministry, previously formed contact points for cooperation with civil society in public administration bodies of all three levels of government, and applications for the Calendar of public tenders are being developed in order to increase the transparency of funding of civil society organizations from budget funds,” stated Minister Žigmanov.

“USAID sees a strong civil society as an essential element of a strong democracy so we are happy to see members of civil society, academia, and the government coming together to discuss the challenges civil society faces, and, hopefully, start identifying solutions. So, we’re really excited to see what progress can be made in the months and years ahead,” said Brooke A. Isham, Mission Director, USAID Serbia.

“One of the core principles of Swiss international cooperation is fostering inclusive and participatory decision-making processes. We believe that a resilient and active civil society is integral to the democratic fabric of any nation. In Serbia, this means supporting civil society actors to engage citizens in meaningful ways, ensuring their voices are being heard and their contributions valued. I am confident that through our collective efforts, we can foster a more resilient, vibrant, and impactful civil society for the good of Serbia,” stated Richard Kohli, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia.

Biljana Dakić, PartnersGlobal’s Chief of Party of the Civil Society Resilience Activity, emphasized the importance of changing the narrative about civil society and better communication with citizens. “Decades of negative campaigns about ‘foreign mercenaries’ have left a mark on the minds of citizens who, to the greatest extent, do not recognize the importance of the activities of civil society organizations. We will continue to encourage organizations to communicate more effectively with citizens and build constituency support and sources of sustainability in their environment,” concluded Dakić.

This summit was part of the Civil Society Resilience Activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and implemented by PartnersGlobal.

For more information about the Civil Society Resilience Activity or this event, please contact Aleksandar Obradović at [email protected] or 066 6405 488. For more information about USAID, please contact Mirjana Vuksa Zavišić at [email protected] or 065 3164530.

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