Bolat Tlepov: One of the most important achievements of independence is professional and active community of NGOs

Since gaining independence, the civil society of Kazakhstan has gone from several organizations to an entire institution, which has become a reliable partner of the state in maintaining stability and institutional traditions. Vice Minister of Information and Social Development Bolat Tlepov spoke about the development of civil society and the measures taken by the state in an interview with

— Bolat Anapiyaevich, tell us what measures are being taken by the state for the development of civil society in Kazakhstan and what preconditions have served for this?

— One of the most important achievements of independence is a professional, active and independent community of non-governmental organizations. This is a task that has been in the field of vision of our state for all these 30 years. The formation of civil society is one of the most important strategic tasks of state policy, which was laid down by Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev and is constantly noted by the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Over the past 30 years, the network of non-governmental organizations has grown from 100 NGOs to 22 thousand. New and fairly strong NGO initiatives have emerged in the country, most of which are functioning successfully, providing a wide range of services to society. In practical terms, the institutions of civil society every year find their application in the political, social, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres of the life of the state and society.

Any modern state needs reliable partners within society itself, who are able to effectively contribute to the solution of existing problems. Their absence, as is known, excludes any progressive development of society.

Civil society, like any institution, requires first of all legislative regulation to ensure its activities. To date, the adopted fundamental laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of civil society are the Laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On public associations", "On political parties", "On trade unions", "On non-profit organizations", "On state social order, grants and awards for non-governmental organizations in the Republic of Kazakhstan», "On Public Councils’’, "On Peaceful Assemblies.''

The formation of civil society in the country was reflected in the Concept for the Development of Civil Society in Kazakhstan for 2006-2011. It became the basis for the improvement, further development and adoption of legislative and other legal acts aimed at creating favorable conditions for the development of civil society institutions.

The above documents made it possible to implement the best practices and introduce traditions that are supported today.

The legal framework for the activities of civil society organizations has been created and continues to improve. A number of changes were initiated in the legislation concerning civil society and NGOs in particular. We are talking about changes in the procedure for the formation, implementation, monitoring of the state social order; on the emergence of government grants; about the emergence of a new institution — public councils; on the implementation of the state social order standard.

By the decree of the President, a new strategic document was approved that defines the main directions of development of the civil sector in the long term — the Concept of the development of civil society in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

— What are the main directions of the Concept for the Development of Civil Society and what result can be expected from its implementation?

— The document defines the main tasks and priorities in the field of interaction between civil society and government bodies. The Concept provides for new approaches to transforming the activities of the civil sector.

The implementation of the set of measures laid down in the Concept is calculated until 2030. The implementation of the Concept will be based on the principles of consistency, consistency and interdepartmental interaction. In this regard, the Concept will be implemented in two stages: the first stage from 2020-2025 and the second stage from 2026-2030.

Currently, the ministry has developed an Action Plan for the implementation of the Concept.

In the Concept for the Development of Civil Society, 5 key areas are identified.

Creation of favorable conditions for the development of civil society and its institutions, including in the social and political sphere.

By favorable conditions, we mean at the legislative level to create the necessary conditions for the development and improvement of the activities of NGOs. To implement this norm, work will be strengthened to improve the legislative and institutional framework for the development of civil society, and work will also be carried out to improve the form and procedure for the participation of citizens and civil society institutions, including public councils, consultative and advisory structures and other feedback channels. in decision making.


Support and development of civic engagement

As part of the implementation of this task, the systemic development of volunteering in the country will continue. A great stimulus to the development of the volunteer movement, especially during a pandemic, was given by the initiative of the President of the country, who declared this year the Year of the Volunteer. We can already observe the results of civic engagement. For example, the infrastructure of volunteering was created in the person of the Republican front office of Birgemiz and 17 regional front offices on the principle of a single vertical from the regional to the republican level, hot lines were opened, the online platform was launched, where more than 45 thousand volunteers, 3,063 organizations and 977 projects. Volunteers provide targeted assistance. During the pandemic, volunteers provided assistance to more than 1 million citizens who found themselves in difficult life situations.

The draft Action Plan for the implementation of the above Concept provides for the development of mechanisms for interaction between universities and NGOs on increasing the potential of civil society, which will improve the legal culture among students and the participation of student youth in public life.


Increasing participation of citizens and civil society institutions in decision-making and management of state affairs

For the first time in the history of the country's independence, the institution of public control will be introduced. This indicates a high level of trust in the institutions of civil society. According to the initiative, public control should become an alternative to state control. The Ministry is developing a draft law "On Public Control", which is being vigorously discussed at many venues, and this is encouraging. It is necessary to understand that public control is a tool that will directly affect the transparency of the state and quasi-public sector of the country.

In addition, the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan is considering a draft Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts on Information Issues." The novelties of the draft Law will contribute to increasing the information openness and accessibility of state bodies and other holders, which is an important transition to the concept of a Hearing State.

At the same time, based on the recommendations of NGOs, international experts, including the OECD, a draft law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Activities of Public Councils” has been developed; it is planned to strengthen the status of public councils by introducing it into the quasi-public sector.

Today, public councils are available in all state bodies. The analysis shows the activation of NGOs in the structure of public councils, the share of NGOs in the composition of public councils increased by 10%.


Strengthening the capacity of civil society institutions

Within the framework of this task, measures will be taken to professionalize NGOs.

Currently, the country lacks systemic specialized education and training programs for NGO representatives.

At the same time, increasing the competitiveness of NGOs, diversifying the sources of its funding, including the development of social entrepreneurship among NGOs, will contribute to the sustainability of the "third" sector.

In this regard, the ministry launched the project "Academy of NGOs", the purpose of which is to professionalize the activities of NGOs. This is the first systematic course of necessary legal and managerial knowledge for leaders of NGOs in Kazakhstan.

Our main task is to create a Kazakhstani platform for organizing distance and mobile training for NGO representatives, as well as developing the professional skills of public associations.


Involvement of civil society in the process of implementation of the UN SDGs in Kazakhstan

Within the framework of the draft Plan, at the first stage, the organization of public monitoring of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals with the participation of civil society organizations is envisaged.

In general, following the implementation of the Concept, an increase in citizens' participation in the work of civil society institutions is expected, an increase in the number of citizens employed in the civil sector and an increase in the level of trust in civil society institutions from various social groups.

Undoubtedly, the high-quality implementation of the tasks set will make it possible to bring civil society to a new level of development and provide an opportunity for a closer constructive dialogue.

— What instruments of financial sustainability of NGOs do exist today?

— The main form of cooperation between non-governmental organizations and state bodies is the implementation of socially significant projects within the framework of the state social order, the list of which is formed taking into account the main directions of state programs, international experience, as well as proposals received directly from non-governmental organizations. State awards and grant funding are also instruments of financial support for civil society institutions.

This year, 38 NGOs received state support for NGOs in the form of prizes for a total of 83 million 340 thousand tenge.

Funding for NGO projects increased from one million to 27 billion tenge.

In this regard, we are taking effective measures to establish partnerships with all civil society actors, to involve them in solving urgent problems of the city.

— The IX Civil Forum of Kazakhstan has recently completed its work. What is its peculiarity and what results have been achieved?

— One of the most important achievements of independence is a professional, active and independent community of non-governmental organizations. This is a task that has been in the field of vision of our state for all these 30 years. Therefore, the current IX Civil Forum was held under the sign of the 30th anniversary of our Independence.

The site of the Civil Forum itself is unique. This project has been implemented since 2003 and is carried out once every two years.

The IX Civil Forum "Society and the State: 30 Years of Partnership and Development of Birgemiz’’ was held Nov. 23-27, 2020. I would like to note that for the first time in history the forum was held in a mixed format — offline and online. Forum venues are organized and united under the auspices of the Civil Society Week.

The total coverage of the forum sites was over 20,000 people. The Forum opening ceremony alone was watched live by about 1,500 people.

Within the framework of the forum, more than 40 multi-format dialogue platforms were organized. Sectoral meetings of 12 heads of central government bodies were held, at which, in the “free microphone” format, NGO representatives were able to ask their questions.

As a result of the IX Civil Forum, more than 650 proposals and recommendations were received from representatives of civil society. Of these, following the results of the republican forum — more than 500 recommendations, following the results of 17 regional forums — 150 proposals and recommendations.

During the IX Republican Civil Forum, the most pressing issues of society were discussed. In particular, the introduction of social work in the list of priority professions for the needs of the country, the development of professional approaches for NGOs, the development of environmental education, ensuring the transparency of the state social order, the involvement of NGOs in monitoring, the relationship between government bodies, NGOs and business, increasing the level of digitalization in the activities of NGOs, activities of international organizations in Kazakhstan and others.

The work of the Civil Forum showed that most of our assessments are converging. Despite different positions on many key issues, we have come to a common opinion and will take joint measures in many spheres of life. Of course, without this, it is impossible to effectively work for both civil society and the state.

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