Citizen Engagement for Good Governance, Accountability and the Rule of Law (CEGGA)

Project description

Title: Citizen Engagement for Good Governance, Accountability and the Rule of Law (CEGGA)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Laos
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) of Lao PDR
Overall term: 2017 to 2020

Context

The Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), under the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP), has initiated various reforms in recent years that aim for the country to be ruled by the rule of law and democratic principles. The mandate of the National Assembly has been strengthened, the gap between written and practiced law shall be closed by 2020, and cooperation with civil society organisations (CSOs) shall be improved. In the 2015 Vientiane Declaration on Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (2016-2025), the Lao Government underlined the relevance of CSO engagement for the development of the country. The current Prime Minister’s reform agenda for strengthening the state’s transparency, efficiency and accountability as well as the key role that the National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2016-2020) attributes to enhancing the rule of law underpin opportunities for progress in good governance.

In 2009, the Government approved a decree that allowed CSOs to formally register and gain a legal status for the first time. This decree was later revised in 2018. Until now, around 250 CSOs have registered. However, existing CSOs in Laos are mostly based in the Capital, and their capacities are rather limited. The public administration is not yet sufficiently familiar with the new regulatory framework in order to implement it in a manner that is practice-oriented and enabling for civil society engagement.

A similar situation applies to the rule of law. While the Lao Government has intensified its efforts for law-making and law-dissemination, having rights and exercising one’s rights are not yet matters to be taken for granted in Laos. This is why the Lao Government prioritises further developing rule of law institutions and procedures, has declared the country-wide provision of legal aid services for citizens a key objective, and has further strengthened the National Assembly’s mandate vis-à-vis the executive government – particularly with regard to overseeing Government action and spending. Furthermore, the Lao Government is moving ahead with implementing its international human rights obligations into the domestic legal framework.

Objective

Citizen engagement in the national development of Laos has been increased. For this, the environment and capacities of civil society to contribute to sustainable development and good governance have been improved; National Assembly and Provincial People’s Assemblies strengthened in their parliamentary functions; and the implementation of the rule of law and human rights obligations enhanced.

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Approach

The CEGGA Programme that has been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and is co-funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is implemented in close cooperation with the Lao Ministry of Home Affairs, the National Assembly, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Programme aims to contribute to increased citizen engagement in Lao PDR’s national development process through the promotion of good governance, the rule of law and human rights. For this purpose, the Programme provides technical advisory services, logistical and financial support, capacity development support and training measures for state and non-state actors at multiple levels.

CEGGA focuses on the legal and administrative environment for civil society engagement and the rule of law as well as on the implementation of international human rights conventions into the government and administrative system of Laos. CEGGA is implemented in three areas of engagement:

1.    Improved environment and capacities of civil society organisations

In cooperation with non-governmental organisations, such as Cord Global, tailor-made training and        complementary coaching measures are developed to enable CSOs to implement their projects more effectively and professionally. The exchange of experiences and knowledge between CSOs as well as the dialogue between CSOs and relevant line Ministries is intensified. The Ministry of Home Affairs of Laos is supported in implementing the new regulatory framework in a manner that is practice-oriented and enabling for civil society engagement and in reducing the duration of CSO registration processes.

2.    Strengthened parliamentary core functions of the National Assembly and Provincial People’s Assemblies

The National Assembly of Laos is supported in exercising its constitutional role and in further elaborating roles and procedures of the newly established Provincial People’s Assemblies. The National Assembly is further enabled to formulate draft laws in representation of citizens’ interests and in a way that complies with the rule of law and human rights obligations. The National Assembly shall also consult with CSOs and other stakeholders as stipulated in the Lao Law on Law-Making. Furthermore, National Assembly and Provincial People’s Assemblies are enabled to oversee government action, public spending and compliance with the Lao legal framework.

3.    Enhanced implementation of the rule of law and human rights obligations

CEGGA supports the Lao Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in all its efforts in enhancing the implementation of the rule of law, and for improving citizens’ country-wide access to justice. It promotes measures to educate civil servants in conjunction with complying with laws and regulations, and supports initiatives that provide legal aid services to citizens and inform them of their rights. CEGGA supports MoJ in establishing legal aid offices in all 18 provinces of the country. Furthermore, the Programme supports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos in facilitating the incorporation of ratified human rights conventions into the domestic legal framework.

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