By: Baquer Namazi,
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By: Baquer Namazi, Director of the Iran NGO Initiative and Senior Adviser to the Population Council. Recent Trends. Focus on People’s participation Impact of global policies President Khatami’s Policy Elections and Local Councils Coordinating Council of NGOs NGO Law Reform.

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By: Baquer Namazi,

Director of the Iran NGO Initiative


Senior Adviser to the Population Council

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Recent Trends

  • Focus on People’s participation

  • Impact of global policies

  • President Khatami’s Policy

  • Elections and Local Councils

  • Coordinating Council of NGOs

  • NGO Law Reform

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NGOs in Iran

  • Environmental NGOs 501

  • Women NGOs 300

  • Youth NGOs 2,500 (1000 registered)

  • Scientific 115

  • Cultural and Artistic 2181

  • Charities Almost 5,000

  • Community Funds Almost 10,000

  • 50% of NGOs (over 7,000) were set up during the last four years.

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Challenges facing NGOs Establishment

  • Structural and legal constraints

  • Conflicting policies and bad practices

  • Govt’s role as heavy handed control agent

  • Serious obstacles to interactive international cooperation, e.g. to resources; GINGOs

  • Role of traditional CBOs neglected

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Internal Problems Establishment

  • Insufficient professionalism and participatory management systems

  • Weak technical and financial capabilities

  • Affinity with the communities weak

  • Scarcity and unreliability of information and data

  • Absence of culture of accountability and transparency

  • Lack of understanding with respect to role of NGOs

  • Strong Code of ethics needed

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Opportunities Establishment

  • Demand for democracy and participation

  • Role of CSOs increasingly recognized

  • Community participation, role of CSOs/NGOs and expatriate Iranians highlighted in Fourth Plan

  • Growing confidence of CSOs/NGOs to challenge government policies

  • Forums for dialogue by all stakeholders

  • Several progressive Government voices

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Opportunities (cont’d)- Establishment

  • New visions linking research and advocacy to community-based action emerging

  • More opportunities for expatriate Iranians

  • More involvement of provincial CSOs

  • New alliances involving diverse partners, World Bank, traditional philanthropists, multinationals

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Cooperation possibilities: Types Establishment

  • Training and capacity building

  • Joint research projects

  • Community-based initiatives

  • Scientific and CSO exchange

  • Information and experience sharing

  • Networking


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Cooperation possibilities: Themes Establishment

  • Good governance, human rights, law, democracy

  • Gender mainstreaming

  • Children and youth empowerment

  • Environmental protection

  • Poverty Alleviation; vulnerability reduction

  • Health and population

  • Popularization of science and technology

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CSO/NGO Empowerment: EstablishmentINI’s contributions

  • Created new alliances with communities, traditional philanthropists, universities, private sector, World Bank and multi-nationals

  • Promoted virtual networking

  • Strengthened international cooperation with UN bodies, European and US CSOs, including dialogue with EU

  • Supported training and capacity building projects

  • Helped highlight role of CSOs in Fourth National Plan

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NGO Empowerment (cont’d) Establishment

  • Took the dialogue to the provinces

  • Initiated five community-based pilot projects, with one operational (in Ardekan)

  • Cooperated with universities and centers of excellence

  • Contributed to development of NGO literature through studies (Situation Analysis of Iranian NGOs)

  • Cooperated with the Iranian diaspora

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Iran/US NGO joint activities supported by INI Establishment

Partners: Ford, Population Council, Woodrow Wilson Center, ISAR, SFCG, W.Alton Jones

Activities covered included:

  • Training

  • Exchange

  • Studies

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Training Activities Establishment

  • Two proposal writing workshops

  • Workshop on lobbying and advocacy

  • Workshop on women, children and peace

  • Two E-law workshops

  • Fellowship to E-law Institute

  • Cooperation of E-Law Institute with Tehran University leading to graduate program

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Seminars and Exchanges Establishment

  • Meeting of Iranian/US CSOs (DAPIA)

  • Visit of 10 ENGO representatives to USA

  • Tehran Environment and Urban Development Seminar

  • Meeting of Caspian NGOs in Tehran

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Studies Establishment

  • Situation Analysis of Iranian NGOs

  • Study on perspectives of independent researchers on scientific exchange

  • Study on Traditional Community-Based Organizations

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Criteria for cooperation Establishment

  • Focus on people-to-people cooperation bereft of politics

  • Equality and mutual respect

  • Transparency

  • Priority to community level actions

  • New code of ethics for cooperation

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Start-up actions Establishment

  • Take stock of ongoing cooperative actions

  • Set up network of interested partners

  • Create data bank

  • Set up focal points for cooperation

  • Generate joint projects through consultation with focus on community-based projects

  • Focus on ideas and action