Political Willingness, Openness of Gov't Created Enabling Environment for CSOs, Says Authority


Addis Ababa ( ENA) February 11/2023 The political willingness and openness of the Ethiopian government has created enabling working environment in the country, according to the Authority for Civil Society Organizations (ACSO).

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Authority Director-General Jima Dilbo said there have been many reforms in the civil society sector in the past four years.

According to him, civil society organizations (CSOs) were not allowed to engage in areas they wanted. For instance, they were not able to raise funds from abroad if they wanted to engage in democratic rights, conflict resolution, and nation building.

Believing that civil society organizations would contribute a lot to the overall democratization process in the country, however, the government seriously embarked on and made legal as well as institutional reforms.

Accordingly, Charities and Societies Proclamation 621/ 2009 was, for instance, completely replaced by a new pro-right, pro-democracy and civil society organization law. In this reform, all the restrictive provisions in the previous law were eliminated.

As a result, intensive reforms have been carried out within the institution in the past four years.

“Now I would proudly and confidently say that an enabling working environment has been put in place. Civil society organizations can engage in any area that they would like to engage. They can support our people who are suffering from lack of humanitarian assistance or support democratization, human rights and good governance in the country. I believe opening space for the civil organizations has brought about success.”

Nation building, peace building, democratization, development and humanitarian assistance need practical support from civil society organizations, the director-general stressed.

Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations Executive Director, Mesud Gebeyehu said on his part that the reform in the civil society sector is helping to have synergy between civil societies and the relevant government institutions.

For him, synergy is very important in contributing to sustainable peace, and also for accountability and transparency of the works of the government as well as civil societies.

As Ethiopia is emerging from a two-year long war in the northern part of Ethiopia and conflicts in different areas, the executive director believes that civil societies would play vital role for transitional justice and healing.

“Ethiopians can benefit much from the work civil societies do in nation building, national dialogue, and the national consensus. We will also play a significant role in the anticipated transitional justice and others. For this, we have actually expertise and a relatively better economy as well.”

Mesud pointed out that since the first-phase of the reform has been finalized within the civil society organizations, deepening the reform agendas and program at the very grassroots and local levels is now pressing.

The executive director stressed that civil society organizations should in particular contribute their fair share to conflict-affected areas.

Ethiopian News Agency