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Civil society crucial for democratisation, officials, activists agree

By Dana Al Emam - Feb 27,2017 - Last updated at Feb 27,2017

Ministers of education and planning, Omar Razzaz and Imad Fakhoury, attend a panel discussion in Amman on Monday held by the Coordinating Committee for Civil Society (Photo courtesy of Himam)

AMMAN — The active involvement of civil society organisations in planning and implementing development strategies is a central component of democratisation and inclusiveness, stakeholders said on Monday.

They underlined a connection between the engagement of all social segments and the fight against terrorism, so that individuals can find opportunities for positive self-expression.

Speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Coordinating Committee for Civil Society, Himam, Planning and International Cooperation Minister Imad Fakhoury said the ministry’s participatory approach in dealing with civil society and the private sector has been a “constant” while drawing up development plans.

Acknowledging that regional instabilities affect national development planning, he said the participatory approach adopted in the Jordan 2025 vision and its three executive programmes would ultimately be successful.

Fakhoury noted that the municipal and governorate council elections, due to be held on August 15, will further institutionalise and deepen the role of citizens in decision making and planning at the municipal and governorate level.

In its consultative meeting to map the executive programmes, the ministry engaged around 800 individuals from public and private entities, he explained.

While the role of political parties in Jordan is still developing, civil society organisations are entitled to monitor and critique the government’s implementation of its plans and strategies, said Education Minister Omar Razzaz.

He warned that a sense of social alienation may lead individuals to join terrorist groups, seeking in them the engagement and interaction which they crave.

Levels of education and economic wellbeing are minor factors for joining terrorist groups, when compared to marginalisation, the minister argued.

Razzaz said schools should function as “true participatory spaces” within local communities, where students and residents develop a sense of belonging, and young people can harness their potential and creativity to improve society. 

“The ministry cannot do this without civil society,” he noted.

Representing the civil coalition for sustainable development, Asma Khader called for governmental “transparency” in providing information to civil society organisations, so that they can monitor and take action  to enhance social and economic development.

The former minister stressed the fact that development goals must be comprehensive and not limited to economic advancement at the expense of social development.

Commenting on the upcoming municipal and governorate council elections, Khader said there is a need to raise awareness on sustainable development before the elections, so that elected councils can adopt sustainable development plans.

Established in 2015, Himam is made up of 13 civil society organisations which aim to advance civil society activism in Jordan by advocating human rights, free expression, peaceful assembly, participation and equity.

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