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Société civile, associations et pouvoir local au Yémen

Sarah Ben Nefissa
Maggy Grabundzija
Jean Lambert

Chapter 5: Internal Difficulties and External Constraints

Associations: Legislation and Relationship with the State (abstract)

Mohammed Mughram

Entrées d'index

Texte intégral

1Establishing democracy depends mainly on three active sectors: a modern state based on clearly formulated laws and on the division of power; a dynamic private sector; an independent civil society. The civil society does not have direct links of dependence with the three types of power: the legislative power, the executive power and the legal power; however, it should entertain with them relations of partnership. This implies the notion of citizenship, which is a multi-dimensional historical principle:

  • Exercise of all their political and economical rights and duties by the citizens.

  • Their active participation in public affairs.

  • Participation in the elaboration of the laws and regulations which protect these rights without any discrimination.

  • Man-woman equality.

2Thus, citizenship needs an accumulation of mutual contractual relations between the individuals, civil society and the state. All this is rendered concrete by acquiring numerous rights:

  • The right of access to information and vast availability of legal texts, the aspect which is practically absent in Yemen.

  • The presence of an efficient legal system, of which Yemen stands in great need.

  • Equality of citizens before law: here, also, in Yemen, there is a vast disparity because of tribalism and nepotism.

3All these deficiencies result in that the citizen resorts to illegal means in order to obtain his rights.

4Therefore, civil society and the state must have a complementary relationship. It is better to study the present situation of civil society organizations in the light of these fundamental principles. Since the idea of the participation of civil society organizations in making public decisions has been imported from abroad, there is lack of mechanisms in Yemen that could possibly contribute to this: at most, a few special committees in the Parliament.

5The legal texts are relatively numerous:

61) The freedom of associations, including political ones, is guaranteed by the Constitution of 1991 in a more liberal way than in most Arab countries. It is also guaranteed by numerous specific texts, such as: the associations law of (1963), the cooperation committees law of (1975), law # 13 concerning the organization of lawyers, the cooperative associations law of (1998), the associations and foundations law of (2001).

72) Several important remarks should be made concerning the new law of 2001:

  • The registration procedure for an association is simple but lengthy: one has to wait at least one month in order to receive an authorization.

  • The state has a right to intervene in certain cases.

  • In case of conflict, court appeal is possible but the cases are not well defined.

8The freedom to launch an association depends also on international agreements and conventions and on their recognition by the government of Yemen.

93) Basically, it can be noticed that the majority of non-governmental organizations lack independence. The government supports these organizations only in view of responding to financial offers of international funds investors, for it knows very well that these NGO’s are of no threat because of this lack of independence. Intervening into internal affairs of the associations is quite common, under various pretexts, especially those concerning security.

104) The difficulties met by the associations can be described as follows:

  • Obstacles met by non-governmental organizations which are considered politically dangerous.

  • Too literal interpretation of the laws by public authorities.

  • Long absence of application decrees following the promulgation of the law of 2001.

  • Intervention of public authorities into the internal affairs of non-governmental organizations.

11Internally, non-governmental organizations experience the following shortcomings:

  • Lack of experience and well trained employees.

  • Instability of financing.

  • Survival of traditional ways of thinking and working.

125) The application decree # 129 (2005) of the law of 2001:

  • The text of the law was more liberal than that of the application decree.

  • In the same way, the dialogue mechanism, ideally formulated in the law, is not so perfect at all in the decree.

  • Declaration of founding an association is not a mere formality anymore; it requires a preliminary approval of the Ministry. The same applies for the opening of branches of the same association in other governorates.

13Therefore, it seems that what was given by the law of 2001 was taken away by the decree of 2005.

14In conclusion, the development of civil society organizations requires a policy of proper formation and awareness of both the associations and the beneficiaries themselves. It is required, on the part of the government:

  • To provide financing;

  • To uphold a social politics and the struggle against poverty;

  • To liberalize the regulations in order to encourage initiative on a voluntary basis.

© Centre français de recherche de la péninsule Arabique, 2008

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