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Civil society is one of the fundamental pillars of democracy. In Slovenia, freedom of association is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Slovenia’s vision is to have a well-developed, effective, innovative and sustainable non-governmental sector, one that is able to identify and effectively and successfully respond to the needs of its environment and one that, through its work, contributes to social cohesion and solidarity and provides widely accessible and high-quality services.

Civil society is a term that covers a broad spectrum of forms of organisation of citizens into groups that operate outside the government sector, complementing it on the one hand and acting as a counterbalance on the other. The various forms of organisation of civil society include trade unions, humanitarian organisations, chambers of commerce and industry and professional chambers, religious and youth organisations, sports and cultural associations, social movements, and civil society initiatives. The common denominator of all forms of civil association is that they pursue the shared interests of their members. Civil society may be considered as the third sector besides the state and the economy, a sector that, in developed democracies, furthers the interests of citizens and supervises the work of national authorities. We support a free and active civil society and engage in dialogue with it, aware that civil society is one of the main characteristics of a healthy participatory democracy. We are particularly proud that Slovenia is one of the few open societies in which civil society is not limited by the state (source: CIVICUS Monitor).

In Slovenia, the following types of civil society organisations are defined in detail in legislation and regulated in individual acts: societies and associations of societies, private institutes, foundations, cooperatives, and religious communities. In accordance with the definition of civil society provided by the CIVICUS global alliance of civil society organisations, civil society organisations also include chambers, trade unions and political parties, all of which are regulated in Slovenia.

Non-governmental organisations are an important partner of the State

Strong and active non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are an important part of civil society as they facilitate continued citizen involvement in policy-making, not just at the time of elections. They are a source of information, research and findings that help develop policies for the common good and provide many services of public interest which supplement services provided by the state.

NGOs are non-profit organisations operating independently of the State and other entities in every respect. In Slovenia, there are three main forms of non-governmental organisations: societies, private institutes and foundations. NGOs perform two important functions – they have an advocacy role and provide services. Some of them have been established with the purpose of drawing attention to specific social, political, environmental and other issues, raising public awareness of such issues and striving for them to be addressed. Others, in addition to providing information and raising awareness, are important providers of services of public interest in the areas of social affairs, healthcare, the family, youth, culture, sports, the environment and so forth.