INVITATION - LAUNCH OF THE ONLINE PLATFORM FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS
After the entry into force of the Regulation no. 05/2016 of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo on the Minimum Standards for Public Consultation process, on January 01, 2017, the Office of the Prime Minister invites you to the official launch of the Online Platform for Public Consultations, which is the main tool for the implementation of the adopted minimum standards for public consultations in the policy making process.
The purpose of this platform is to help the ministries and agencies of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo to facilitate the process of public consultation through the involvement of public and non-governmental authorities, civil society organizations and other relevant partners on the policymaking and decision-making process. This platform ensures a communication process between public authorities, stakeholders and the public for a comprehensive participation in policymaking and decision-making process as well as increases the transparency and accountability of the public bodies toward interested parties and the public.
The platform was developed by the Office of the Prime Minister / Office for Good Governance with the support of the two-year EU funded project “Support for the Implementation of the Government Strategy for Cooperation with Civil Society”. This activity is supported by Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF), as a partner for the implementation of Minimum Standards for Public Consultation Process and CiviKos as representative of more than 170 civil society organizations.
Launch of the Platform will take place on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 starting from 13:00 -15: 30, at the Government Building, ground floor, room P38, Pristina.
- Mr. Isa Mustafa, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo
- Mrs. Natalya Apostolova, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo
- Mr. Habit Hajredini, Director of the Office for Good Governance in the Office of the Prime Minister;
- Mrs. Valdete Idrizi, Executive Director of CiviKos Platform
- Mrs. Venera Hajrullahu, Executive Director of Kosovar Civil Society Foundation
- Mr. Igor Vidacak, Team Leader of the EU Project
For more details, please refer to the attached agenda.
Please confirm your participation at [email protected]
WHAT WAS THE ROLE OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE NEW LAW ON TOBACCO CONTROL
Ever since the end of the war, Kosovar society has made attempts to approve policies and laws in accordance with the standards and requests of the European Union. Although the Assembly fulfilled its duties relating to the approval of legislation, this legislation was never fully implemented in practice. The Law on Tobacco approved in 2007 was amongst this legislation which also had a purpose of regulating import, production, and advertising and to limit the use of tobacco in public spaces.
KADC organization was and is actively engaged in amending and reforming policies for the protection of public health with a special emphasis on policies for tobacco control and the implementation of the same. The direct impact of this engagement is the change brought to authorities in charge and the change in the culture of Kosovo’s citizens towards smoking.
The initiative to amend and supplement the Law on Tobacco for the efficient protection of public health came as a result of the failure to implement the Law. The previous law allowed for multiple interpretations and ambiguity, did not clearly define the responsibilities and competencies of executive bodies and all this led to the failure to execute.
The division of space into areas with 70% prohibited and 30% allowed for smoking has proven to be an ineffective measure which did not yield the expected results due to continuous manipulation with the allowed/prohibited smoking areas.
The previous law was not harmonized with the Draft Convention for tobacco control of the World Health Organization which is used as the guideline for drafting effective policies for tobacco control based on scientifically proven empirical data.
To increase citizen participation and to coordinate joint attempts towards a smoke-free environment, KADC initiated the establishment of a wide Anti-Tobacco Coalition (ATC) comprised of governmental and non-governmental institutions such as Ministry of Health, National Institute for Public Health, WHO, UNICEF, Sanitary Inspectorate, Ministry of Education and professional health and civil society organizations. The establishment of the coalition in September 2011 also marks the beginning of the initiative for amending the Law on Tobacco.
KADC’s impact in the process of policy-making would not have proved fruitful had the KADC failed to link up the proper actors from the stakeholders, who initially had the need, wanted to, supported and valued the expertise of the KADC in policies of tobacco control. Besides the proactive manner of advocating, the KADC managed to secure the support from the Ministry of Health to initiate the amending of the Law on tobacco.
The crucial fact of KADC’s success as the representative of civil society in the field of protecting public health was the dedication, persistent and proactive approach during the overall process starting with the initiative to amend the law, drafting, approval and all the way to the implementation of the law on tobacco control.
Some of the essential changes that ensure effective implementation of the Law are:
Strengthening of the legal language in line with the language used internationally in tobacco control policies;
Clear definition of duties and responsibilities of law enforcement supervisory bodies;
100% prohibition of smoking in public areas, work places, public transportation;
Including the notion “person responsible” and determining duties for the person responsible to facilitate the implementation of the law;
Full prohibition of tobacco adverts, promotions and sponsorships, including preventing public exposure of tobacco products at point of sale prohibition of displaying tobacco for retail sale;
Protection of tobacco control policies from commercial interests and other interests of the tobacco industry (limiting interaction between the government and tobacco industry).
During the process of amending the Law, the tobacco industry was very active in protecting its interests and attempted to directly influence the decision of the MPs.
As a response to these attempts, KADC compiled and handed each MP a document with “21 arguments” based on scientific facts which dismissed the attempts of the industry and brought to light their hidden commercial interests to approve a weak and dysfunctional law.
Prior to the second reading of the Draft Law in the Assembly of Kosovo, KADC managed to mobilize the civil society by drafting a declaration that was supported by 56 non-government organizations through which “an invitation is made to the MPs of the Republic of Kosovo to approve the Draft Law on tobacco control without delays, taking into account that it is a comprehensive document that ensures effective health protection for all citizens”.
The approval of the Law by the Assembly of Republic of Kosovo marked an important step in improving the legal framework but another critical moment was the enactment of the Law by the President of the Republic of Kosovo who showed signs of hesitation. On behalf of the Anti-tobacco coalition, KADC sends a letter and requests from the President to sign the Law on Tobacco Control by staying faithful to her pledge to put general interests before individual interest.
After the enactment, the Law on Tobacco Control entered into force on 22 May 2013.
One of the main factors that led to the success of the project was direct and open communication with all the partners and especially with the Ministry of Health as the sponsor of the draft law. The constructive and supportive approach of the KADC toward the Ministry of Health and its partners was essential. Besides this, each of the partners had someone personally involved and ready to contribute at any time.
In the upcoming years, generating public support shall be essential to ensure the success of the Law on Tobacco control. This shall require the mobilization of the general public and media, so that people are supportive and ready to accept change. The past has shown that to the people, just knowing about the damages caused by smoking and being exposed to tobacco smoke is not enough, but that they also need to be aware of the importance of implementing tobacco control policies for the protection of their health. This is a unique opportunity for all the citizens to create a culture of respecting the law and to move from a smoking into a non-smoking society.
This article was written by the KADC exclusively for the KCSF bulletin. The contents of this article are the responsibility of the KADC.