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Participation of NGOs to the legislative process in the Parliament (Grand National Assembly of Turkey)

Project facts

  • Funder: Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MATRA)
  • Partner: Lexchange Ltd (The Hague), Grand National Assembly of Turkey –¬†Directorate of Acts and Resolutions
  • Project period:¬†March 2011 – November 2012
  • For information mail to:¬†office@nhc.nl

As part of its strategy for the accession process of Turkey, the European Union supports increasing civil society involvement in Turkish policymaking. Civil society organizations in modern democracies are an expression of the right of citizens to form associations in order to pursue a common purpose, as high lightened in Article 12 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Associations give voice to the concerns of citizens and allow them to participate in the political or legislative process that affects their lives. However, Turkey is a large country with thousands of NGOs, which very often lack the means to seek contact with the Parliament. They currently only give input on the legislative process through contact with the ministries, while larger and more powerful interest groups do find their way to Parliament.

Civil servants and the speaker of the Grand National Assembly, the Parliament of Turkey, have indicated that they wish to improve this situation. This project was designed to assist in the realisation of this ambition to enhance the interaction between the Turkish Parliament and representative organizations. Increased interaction is expected to bring about greater transparency and civil society participation in the legislative process.

The NHC became involved in this project in March 2011, although it had already begun earlier under the responsibility of another organization. Due to unique circumstances, the NHC took over their role in the project. Some changes were made to the original project plan, but, since only a part of the activities envisioned in the project plan had been started, activities executed previously could be incorporated without too many problems. Reshaping the project did cost quite some time, leaving less for activities in 2011, which means 2012 is the most important year for this project.

The project activities mostly involve workshops and study visits, which take place as developments in Turkey continue. Through these activities, foreign experts and professionals can give input into the process. During a workshop in The Hague, for instance, experts from the Dutch Academy of Legislation could join the discussion on a draft law which had just been finished and which concerned the establishment of a similar institution in Turkey. Similarly, the project involves meetings between representatives from the Turkish parliament with those of the Hungarian, British and Dutch parliaments, in which procedures that facilitate interaction of NGOs with their national Parliament are discussed.