Supported by International IDEA, the Parliament of Bhutan and Civil Society Organizations launched a Strategy Document on 4 May 2023 aimed at strengthening democratic governance. The strategy, which was developed through in-depth consultative and participatory processes, seeks to enhance the engagement and participation of CSOs in the parliamentary and decision-making process.
The launch ceremony of this important strategy document was held in the National Assembly conference hall and was graced by His Excellencies Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairperson of the National Council, Ms. Paola Pampaloni, Dy. Managing Director of the Department for Asia and Pacific of the European External Action Service (EEAS), European Commission, Mr. Marion Ronconi, Head of Unit for South Asia at the Directorate General for International Partnerships, European Commission, Ms. Leena Rikkilä Tamang, Regional Director for Asia and Pacific, International IDEA, Members of the Parliament, Representatives of the CSOs led by Dr. Rinzin, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Bhutan Civil Society Network, Secretariat officials of the two houses led by the respective Secretary Generals, Ms. Tashi Pem, Country Director of Helvetas Bhutan and Project ‘Nyamdrel officials.
“As Bhutan continues to undergo significant transformation towards efficiency, the importance of harnessing the potential of CSOs in increasing citizen interest and participation in the transformation processes has also grown. Parliament, on its part, recognises the vital role CSOs as an institution can play in sensitizing community responsibilities, raising awareness and drawing attention to new developments.”, stated His Excellency Wangchuk Namgyel Speaker
Ms. Pampaloni said that “the strategy document launched today is significant, as it is the first ever formalized framework laying down the principles and mechanism of collaboration between the Parliament of Bhutan and CSOs. Paving the way for their strengthened joint efforts for the betterment of the lives of the people of Bhutan.”
Likewise, Mr. Ronconi said that“such an initiative will improve cohesion by ensuring that future decision-making takes aboard the voices of all Bhutanese people. The wider the CSO representation is, the more effective will this collaboration be.”
“This event is a major milestone in the history of the development of civil society in Bhutan since it marks the official launching of the Parliament and CSOs Collaboration Strategy document, a first of its kind to be mutually agreed upon and endorsed by the legislature and the civil society. This document will go a long way in enhancing the already improving collaborations between the two institutions. This will ensure that there is effective and efficient transfer of knowledge on and experiences of the society, especially those of the marginalised and vulnerable groups through the CSOs to the legislature, which in-turn will the legislature in making evidence-based decisions. This initiative is also an excellent example to showcase how different institutions and the Third Sector (the Civil Society) can develop ways and means to work together and promote inclusive governance in nation building.”, stated Dr. Rinzin, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of Bhutan Civil Society Network (EC, BCSN.
Ms. Tamang said that “the Parliament and CSOs strategy document is a major step towards forging meaningful collaboration between the Parliament and CSOs, and marks yet another significant milestone in Bhutan’s young democracy.”
The strategy document aims to facilitate effective collaboration between Parliament and the CSOs, ultimately contributing to nation building. It will also strengthen mutual political participation that reinforces the mandate of a representative, transparent and accessible Parliament.
The Parliament of Bhutan thanked the European Union for the fund support and International IDEA and Helvetas Bhutan for the technical assistance.
While in Thimphu, Ms. Leena Rikkilä Tamang met Hon’ble Speaker of the National Assembly of Bhutan, Hon’ble Chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan, Secretary Generals of the two houses, Chief Election Commission, Election Commission of Bhutan, Chairperson of the Executive Committee, Bhutan Civil Society Network, Executive Director of Bhutan Media Foundation and Country Director, Helvetas Bhutan during her five-day visit to Bhutan from 2-6 May 2023.