A strong civil society is essential in developing strong democratic institutions within any country.

The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) can draw on the wealth of experience we have working with parliaments and civil society to ensure greater cooperation between these groups in Macedonia.

The promotion of civil and political rights by civil society in Macedonia is essential in achieving greater cohesion between fundamental freedoms, political pluralism and democratisation. Some progress has been made, with the government creating a Strategy and Action Plan for cooperation with civil society in 2007. So far, though, implementation has been slow. Greater cohesion is needed between fundamental freedoms, political pluralism and democratisation efforts.

WFD’s new programme hopes to bridge this gap by using our access to connect civil society with the Parliament. We have been developing relationships with the Parliament since 2007, while the UK political parties have also worked to strengthen the multi-party system from 2006 by building the capacity of parties to campaign effectively. The access WFD has gained from previous work with these institutions, including the support we have provided to the Western Balkan Network of Parliamentary Committees (NPC), which includes representatives from Macedonia, gives us the ability to connect civil society with the Parliament. Its success rests on the access WFD has built over many years of engagement in Macedonia with decision-making institutions.

Our programme, in partnership with the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), also aims to develop CSOs’ ability to effectively advocate on behalf of citizens. Evidence and advocacy are essential ingredients of success in promoting fundamental freedoms and defending human rights. So we are working with the School of Journalism and Public Relations in Macedonia to give organisations the skills they need to research and draft public policy papers which can influence legislative reforms.

The generation of better evidence and research is a theme that runs throughout WFD programming. We have developed research centres and economic analysis offices from Ukraine to Jordan that provide relevant information to decision-makers. This approach is easily transferred to CSOs working to influence legislation in Macedonia.