CSOs are important to building strong democracies

Accra, Officials of the European Union have reiterated the important role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including the media, in building a strong democracy.

Speaking at a forum on CSOs’ contribution to nation building, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative on Human Rights, who is on an official visit to Ghana, said although Ghana was not a paradise for human rights, successive governments had made enormous strides in guaranteeing these rights through effective collaboration with civil society organisations.

Ghana is a strong democracy with challenges and the European Union will provide the needed support to address these challenges, he stated, in a statement copied to the GNA.

Mr Lambrinidis stated that democracy did not end with the counting of the ballots.

According to him, thriving democracies required strong, independent and self-sufficient civil society organizations, to protect and promote human rights and commended Ghana’s civil society organisations for their efforts so far.

The forum was organized by the European Union Delegation to Ghana, on the theme Civil Society, a strategic partner for stability and governance in Ghana and formed part of the EU’s framework on the Good Human Rights Stories initiative.

The initiative is aimed at sharing good practices as well as enhancing cooperation on Human Rights issues, and emphasized the role that civil society organizations play in promoting stable democracies for peace and development.

In an address, Mr William Hanna, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, commended the extent to which freedom of the press had been guaranteed in Ghana.

He said, Ghana is one of the few countries where one can make open declarations on the freedom of the press.

He emphasised that; the EU believes in sustained engagement with civil society organizations in line with the Cotonou Agreement which states that an empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system.

Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister for National Security, who represented the Government, emphasised the critical role of Civil Society Organisations in the democratic governance of the country.

He said it was very important for the government of any country to be held accountable and no group was better placed to do this than civil society organisations, including the media.

The most important institution that can help us get governments to be accountable is civil society, he emphasized.

As part of the forum, civil society organizations in Ghana shared their experiences including success stories and obstacles, the state of their interaction with Government institutions, whether their experiences could be replicated elsewhere and the way forward.

They included; Basic Needs Ghana, Women in Law and Development, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, Ghana Integrity Initiative, The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) and the Legal Resources Centre, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) among others.

The report on the forum would be presented during the Africa-EU Summit meeting scheduled for November in Abidjan.

Source: Ghana News Agency