Trying to bring citizens on board

5 September 2014
“It is basically the process, means and tolls by which citizens monitor the implementation of governments’ and other decision-makers’ commitments, having the opportunity to provide their opinions and requests and to receive a feedback,” says Ana Dautović from the UN Coordination Office in Montenegro.
“The process aims to explore possibilities of greater citizens' participation in monitoring the implementation of policies and to get suggestions from citizens on how to establish more efficient ways of communicating with the government and monitoring its work,” Dautović said. 
The country is employing a 3-step approach in identifying people’s involvement in monitoring implementation of policies and laws and possibilities of their involvement: 1) mapping, 2) accountability check, and 3) testing of a concrete mechanism.
The first stage - mapping, which scanned existing mechanisms of citizens' involvement in decision-making processes, unveiled that  the citizens and the government of Montenegro have available a wide array of formal and informal mechanisms for policy monitoring, particularly so at the local level. However, most of the existing mechanisms, particularly the local-level ones, are non-functional.
“The existing participatory monitoring mechanisms are not equally available to all segments of the population in Montenegro. In particular, this applies to the poor population,” said Lidija Brnović, the author of the Mapping Report.
The accountability check phase followed. Through a direct communication, people shared their opinions on participation in decision-making and on different aspects of monitoring the work of national institutions.  
The voice of people of Montenegro was pursued through a broad coalition of more than 20 national partners, using two forms of dialogue: Focus Groups and Online Questionnaire.
Different vulnerable groups also took part in the process including displaced persons, elderly population, children, Roma, women entrepreneurs, residents of remote mountainous areas and young people with disabilities.
Through a dynamic dialogue, people recognised concrete barriers for their greater involvement in decision making, such as lack of information, people’s passiveness, insufficient and undeveloped channels of communications with decision makers, unclear procedures.
However, they also recommended some concrete aspects which would lead to their greater participating, such as: greater openness of decision makers, de-politicization, new forms of dialogue with authorities, greater awareness of existing mechanisms for their participation, availability of information, involvement of vulnerable groups. 
Again, the voice of Montenegrin citizens was loud and clear. More than 3,500 people from Montenegro said their opinion.
The next phase is the testing.
“In September 2014, Government partners, UN system in the country, in collaboration with the NGO Expedition, will test in practice one of innovative mechanisms for citizens’ involvement in decision-making processes on the subject of employment in tourism. Results of the entire process and recommendations based on the experiences from practice in Montenegro will be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations,” says Paović.
This will be another direct contribution of people of Montenegro to the global process of defining the future agenda of sustainable development.