Monday, April 7, 2008
Everybody is back to work now after the long holidays. The felicitations however are still going on. I sometimes wonder how many holidays we have in Iran and how long it takes afterwards to get back on track. We usually visit the family and friends and people we honor during these days .
We visited President Khatami on Wednesday and, along with Tehran city council members ,the Supreme Leader Khamenei on Sunday. Aside from these courtesy calls, I found some time to complete some of my unfinished work.
We have had two official Council sessions this week and today we completed a bill defining the procedures for close collaboration of the Council with NGOs . This bill provides grounds for the empowerment of NGOs and their integration in urban management processes. Part of the text reads: NGOs in Tehran are invited to take part in the decision making processes,to assist in the implementation of projects and to provide consultation and expertise for the proper management of city affairs. In addition NGOs may take part in regulation and oversight which is the most contentious issue that the council faces in its mandate. I spoke about the importance of providing opportunities for NGOs to take part urban management issues and I explained our successful experiences in working with NGOs in the Environment Committee in the council. I think this is an important step forward for the civil society.
During the Reform period under President Khatami the civil society in Iran began to flourish and NGOs grew in number as well as in strength and capabilities. The current Principalist and populist government has different priorities and they have not provided adequate support for non-governmental activites which are mostly critical of governmental policy.