The NGO Information and Support Centre (NISC) was registered in the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice in 1995. Its mission is to unite the country’s NGO interests, and strengthen the NGO sector at all levels. NISC carries out its mandate through the following strategic objectives:
- NGO sector strengthening;
- NGO coalition-builiding and strengthening;
- NGOs and strengthening collaboration between government;
- External environment for NGOs;
- Volunteering in the development of traditions.
NISC is member of AGNA. Affinity groups are groupings of CIVICUS members that exist to take forward CIVICUS’ mission and values. The Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) brings together national associations from around the world. National associations are those organisations, which provide and give a collective voice to civil society in their countries, serve as interlocutors between civil society and other sectors and struggle for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society at the national level.
State/civil society relations:
How does the state view and relate to civil society in your country?
Have there been any significant changes in relations between civil society and the government in your country in the last year?
What conditions do you feel need to be in place to allow for a good relationship between the state and civil society at a national level?
The process of consolidation of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector started in 1998 with the establishment of the first Committee for NGO Affairs. It was founded by the decision of the Government. The following years the NGO Committee was set up in the Parliament and the working group was formed to draft the Law on the NGO Development. In 2001 the Law was submitted to the Parliament, however it was not adopted. In 2006 a new Committee on NGO Affairs was formed by the Government’s decision to develop a strategic document for the development of the NGO sector, however it achieved no success.
Finally in 2009, a new NGO Working Group was formed with the change of the Government. The Working Group developed the compact for NGO development, which was approved in 2010 by the Government. The same year the national NGO coalition was formed at the initiative and under coordination of the Non-Governmental Organisations Information and Support Centre. The coalition consists of 14 national associations, uniting NGOs all over the country and working in major public policy fields (youth, culture, social affairs, health, disable people, environment, etc.). The coalition is recognised by the central government institutions, in particular, the President Office, the Government and ministries; and delegates its members to different bodies relevant for the sector (committees, commissions, steering groups, etc.).
The Coalition is represented in the joint Commission for Coordination of NGO Affairs, which was established in 2010 and meets regularly to discuss legal, financial and other topical issues of the sector.
The legal and regulatory environment:
Are there any particular challenges with the legal and regulatory environment for civil society? (e.g. are the laws outdated / inappropriate / inadequate / over-complex / partial / not properly applied / adequate)? What recent trends do you feel have enabled or restricted the efficiency of civil society?
In 2011 the Law on Non-Governmental Organisations has been prepared and adopted by Government, but the bill is still on the consultation process at the Parliament. In 2012 an alternative bill on the same topic has been prepared by President Office and going to be introduced to the Parliament in 2013.
Funding environment for CSOs:
What is the reality of funding in your country? (Access to funding/ patterns of donor support/ restrictions on funding etc.) Where is money going and for what purposes?
Concerning the global financial crisis, funds allocated to the NGO sector has been reduced critically. But despite difficult financial situations there are several programmes, operating by Ministries and municipalities to support NGOs projects.
Also few foreign funds in 2010 and 2012 (such as European Economic Area / Norwegian financial instrument and Swiss financial instrument) provide support for NGOs (each NGO fund, under these financial instrument provides approximately 5 million EUR to support NGOs). The money goes to support NGO capacities and daily-life activities.