IRI Co-Director delivers a keynote address at a major conference of the Polish nonprofit sector
November 19, 2010. Just one day after its strong showing at the prestigious Zilele Biz congress in Bucharest, IRI played an important role at a major conference of the nonprofit sector in Poland. The conference, organized by the Polish Ministry of Labor that is responsible for regulating the third sector, was focused on assessing the impact of a major reform of the Polish nonprofit law introduced in 2004.
IRI co-director, Maciej Kisilowski, was one of the three speakers invited to deliver opening statements intended to frame the conference. As it turned out, his assessment of the reform differed sharply from that of his local co-panelists. This, however, was not a surprise, since Prof. Kisilowski’s recent book, The Law of the Nonprofit Sector – Functional Analysis, published by the Polish branch of the US legal publisher LexisNexis, is known for offering a scathing criticism of the reform.
Both in the book and in his talk, Prof. Kisilowski argued that the 2004 law overregulated Polish nonprofits, forcing them to limit their activities to a narrow area of supporting public administration. “The system works well for NGOs that relieve the government in the areas of social and economic policy, in which the administration remains inefficient. But such activities constitute but a small fraction of the social role of nonprofits in a mature democracy,” observed Prof. Kisilowski. “We need to find a way to support nonprofits in performing their functions as governmental watchdogs, as providers of goods and services for small and discriminated minorities, and as generators of valuable social capital.” Prof. Kisilowski’s arguments provoked a lively discussion between academics, nonprofit activists, and governmental officials attending the conference.
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