About the Organization
The newborn Republic of Kosovo has inherited a dangerous situation with the potential for abuse of power and bad governance. For decades people of Kosovo have cultivated apathy through a culture of fear from the government and the concept of state. United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) which too often frustrated public scrutiny of its work and proved time and again that its officers were accountable to no one, whether they embezzled public funds, sexually discriminated against employees, or even shot demonstrators with prohibited and deadly ammunition. During the UNMIK administration public apathy increased and the prospect of an active citizenry grew more remote. The first election of the UNMIK era in 2000 saw 80% turnout; participation in the 2007 election was half that. Meanwhile, the Kosovar public servants so elected were exposed to the opaque and unaccountable governing style of UNMIK. As the political process stagnated during the years of UNMIK administration, too often the executive and legislative branches of Kosovo?s nascent government operated without transparency or accountability.
With Kosovo?s independence comes a new opportunity to establish the active and watchful civil society that Kosovo?s new government requires if it is to reach its full potential. There is much for an active and watchful citizenry to do. Elected local government institutions have finally come into existence but the quality of governance and participation at local levels remains weak. Civil society spawned a free media and assertive NGOs, but public cynicism about institutions, from parliament to the courts, spans the political spectrum. Judicial independence was never entirely established under the administration of UNMIK and judicial decisions are beset by long backlogs and undue private influence, weakening the public?s trust in the integrity of the court system. Public information regarding decision making within government and the legislature is sparse and what can be accessed is often inaccurate or biased. Even knowledgeable and well-resourced advocates have difficulty obtaining copies of legislation under consideration by the Municipal and National Assemblies and find it difficult to monitor the progress of draft laws.
FOL Movement (SPEAK UP) and its partners have been working to increase public scrutiny of the government?s work and advocating for transparency, accountability and reform. In confronting the lack of public confidence and the need to increase access to information, SPEAK UP feels it is vital to develop skills among local groups to better influence government processes. SPEAK UP also recognizes that to succeed, efforts to ensure transparent and accountable government in the Republic of Kosovo must increase citizen participation in advocacy initiatives that cross the various ethnic, gender and age barriers that continue to segregate civil society. SPEAK UP and its partners have made progress in these efforts and in doing so have developed a strong network of researchers, advocates and volunteers who are active in these issues, while establishing themselves as a credible voice with Kosovo?s institutions and media.
FOL Movement (Speak Up) is a focal point on issues regarding corruption and abuse of public authority and funds. FOL Movement?s staff and its partners are with the most expertise and experience in this area, together with a corps of enthusiastic volunteers. Together, they have been successful, drawing front-page newspaper coverage and other high-profile media attention to important issues and prompting government reform, including lowering the salaries of the Kosovar President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Assembly.
By expanding our existing initiative we hope to bring public scrutiny to local governments, to engage with the central government more comprehensively and to improve the tools available to civil society to execute effective research and advocacy in the service of government transparency, accountability and reform. We feel this is the best way to encourage and provide space for citizens to express their dissatisfaction with broken public policies and bad government decisions.