Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) play vital roles through service delivery and advocacy, offering essential welfare services like emergency relief, environmental conservation, and sustainability. They operate at diverse levels, from local to international, with varied organizational structures and approaches. Advocacy-focused CSOs act as representatives for specific issues, aiming to influence policies and perspectives in the development arena, including government, media, and the public. This report focuses on CSO Engagement in policy development, monitoring, and dialogue in Mongolia, particularly their interactions with public authorities.

Despite increased diversity within CSOs in Mongolia over the past two decades, the legal framework hasn’t adapted to evolving development needs. With 35,312 registered CSOs in 2022, only approximately 6,380 operate regularly. Challenges like limited funding, human resource retention, and management capacities hinder CSO-government cooperation, fostering mistrust and a lack of collaboration. Most CSOs in Mongolia have limited opportunities for direct involvement in policymaking/dialogue. However, the extent of this opportunity depends on how CSOs define their goals and services. In Mongolia, CSOs typically monitor policies and regulations rather than actively engage in policymaking/dialogue. Few organizations monitor policy development and participate in policy dialogues. The reasons identified during discussions with civil society actors and government stakeholders were the limited capacities/resources and lack of avenues to participate actively in policymaking dialogue. Despite these challenges, CSOs actively pursue policy dialogue by monitoring policy development. They stay informed about specific areas, offer feedback to amend laws, and support the public in submitting petitions. Collaborating with committee members and local authorities, CSOs research policy contexts, backgrounds, and implications. They continuously try to follow up with government authorities on specific policies and regulations. Adding to these challenges, over 80% of CSOs are in the capital, placing CSOs outside the capital at a disadvantage compared to more established ones in the capital.

Furthermore, in 2023, Civicus labeled Mongolia as a ‘narrowed civic space,’ citing numerous violations of citizens’ fundamental rights to freedom of expression and information (FEI) in the past year alone. The use of creative measures, such as enacting legislation that criminalizes disseminating false information, has hindered the work of civil society. Despite legal protection for the rights of CSOs and media organizations in Mongolian legislation, this trend stifles criticism against the government, private sector, and influential public figures, impacting collaboration between CSOs and the government. Mongolia is experiencing strong momentum in supporting CSOs, backed by long-term commitments and funding from major donors like the European Union, Global Affairs Canada, US government agencies (embassy, USAID), and UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, FAO). The EU CSO Roadmap for 2021-2025 exemplifies this dedication. PIN Mongolia is actively working to design a systematic approach that enhances CSO participation in local development through innovative tools and mechanisms for collaboration with the government and other stakeholders.