|On July 19, 2004 Coalition 2000 and the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted an Awards Ceremony: Acknowledging Civil Society Contribution to Establishing the Local Ombudsman Institution. Four nongovernmental organizations implementing projects under the Civil Society Against Corruption Program of Coalition 2000 received an honorary diploma during the Ceremony. The four recipient organizations were:
• Bulgarian Youth League Stefan Stambolov- Smolyan for their project Face to Face with Corruption: Institutionalization of the Civic Defender and Public Councils to Fight Corruption at Municipal Level;
• Association Future for All of Us - Sofia for their project Establishment of the Local Ombudsman Institution in Sofia Region;
• Bulgarian Association for Fair Elections and Civil Rights - Razgrad for their project Open Doors for the Citizens of Razgrad;
• Bulgarian Association for Out-of-Court Conflict Resolution – Plovdiv for their project Support and Assistance in Out-of-court Resolution of Conflict in the Sphere of Secondary Education through the Establishment of School Mediators.
The honorary diplomas were bestowed by James W. Pardew, Ambassador of the USA to Bulgaria.
The first three awarded organizations support the establishment of civic control over the local government organs through institutionalization of the position of public mediators (ombudsmen). As a result of their successful work three ombudsmen were elected in 2004: in the municipalities Banite, Smolyan region; Botevgrad and Razgrad. The ombudsmen of these municipalities are already engaged in resolving concrete problems of local citizens and contribute to the establishment of more transparent and accountable municipal authorities. The Bulgarian Association for Out-of-Court Conflict Resolution aims at the legitimizing of the role of the school mediator as a mechanism for conflicts resolution in the sphere of secondary education.
The election of local public mediators was possible owing to the legislature adopted by the parliament in 2003. This legislature establishes the legal framework for the activities of the national ombudsman and the local public mediators (through the Law on the Ombudsman and the Law Amending and Supplementing the Law on Local Self-Government and Local Administration). The passing of the legislature was preceded by six years of expert and methodological support by Coalition 2000 and other civic organizations, extended to governmental institutions and the civil society.
Salutatory addresses towards the participants in the ceremony and the awarded organizations were delivered by Ambassador James Pardew;the Minister of Justice Mr. Anton Stankov,Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chair of CSD and Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of CSD Law Program.
Salutatory address of Ambassador James W. Pardew