The Democratization Programme of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro contributes to developing democratic governance and accountability of institutions at the central and local levels, promoting a dynamic and active civil society engaged in all levels of government decision-making, fighting discrimination and intolerance, and promoting equal opportunities.
The Mission works to enhance the accountability and transparency of national and municipal representational institutions, as well as institutions fighting against corruption. In order to strengthen good governance, support is also given to civil society to increase co-operation with government structures.
Specifically, the Mission provides support to the Parliament to strengthen its oversight capacity and its efficiency in the legislative process. This includes activities aimed at strengthening parliamentary services, such as the research centre and library and the Human Resources Department, as well as providing support to individual committees in their work to oversee the implementation of national policies and laws. The Mission further supports outreach activities to local communities in order to improve transparency within the Parliament.
At the municipal level, the Mission promotes effective and accountable government through the implementation of codes of conduct and ethics, as well as local action plans to combat corruption. In 2010, all 21 municipalities adopted codes of conduct and ethics for both elected officials and civil servants in order to increase the professional standards and effectiveness of municipal bodies. The Mission is currently working with individual municipalities to train municipal ethics commissions in the implementation of these codes. In a further effort to fight corruption, the Mission is assisting all municipalities in the development of action plans that both address the specificities of the individual municipality and harmonize them with the national action plan to combat corruption. The Mission further supports the sharing of best practices in local governance to enhance efficiency.
In order to increase citizen participation and public awareness, the Mission has worked to improve the legislative framework for civil society, and continues to strengthen the relationship between the public sector and civil society. In 2011, a new law on NGOs was adopted that better regulates the legal environment for civil society. This law was developed by a team supported by the Mission consisting of representatives of both civil society and the Government of Montenegro. The Mission further strengthened co-operation between civil society and the public sector with the development of models of co-operation to normalize the joint work of NGOs and municipal governments.
The Mission supports Montenegrin authorities and civil society organizations in ensuring effective protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights, as well as equal opportunities for all members of society.
Montenegro is a signatory to the Sarajevo Process, which is aimed at mitigating the circumstances facing the region’s displaced population, and has also begun implementation of its own national strategy to return displaced people to their homes. The Mission and its partners in the international community – the UNHCR and the European Union – are active in providing assistance to the country in order for it to meet its commitments in relation to displaced persons. In addition, the Mission is supporting implementation of the Regional Housing Programme established at the international donors’ conference held in Sarajevo in April 2012.
The Mission continues to actively support the integration and empowerment of Roma in Montenegro. This includes promoting the importance of education and providing assistance for improved access to public services. Further support is also being given to help displaced Roma obtain the documentation from their country of origin that they need for legal integration in Montenegro.
In order to promote gender equality, the Mission is ensuring the full implementation of Montenegro’s gender-equality legislation with a special focus on local-level strategies. The Mission is also fully involved in the fight against domestic violence, providing comments on, and advocating for the adoption of, the country’s law against family violence. This law was adopted in 2010, and the Mission is currently working to ensure that it is fully understood and implemented. Finally, the Mission is active in promoting greater political representation of women. This work has focused primarily on political parties.
The Mission assists specific governmental and non-governmental actors in protecting Montenegro’s environmental security. This includes strengthening the capacities of key institutions and professionals entrusted to implement environmental legislation to combat so-called eco-crimes and ensure that future development work is carried out in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The Mission also supports Montenegro’s implementation of certain international environmental agreements, especially the Aarhus Convention. In 2011 and 2012, with the Mission’s assistance, Montenegro opened three Aarhus Centres, which are clearinghouses where the public can learn about current environmental policies and voice their concerns and ideas.