CSO DE WG engages the World Social Forum in Montreal

January 19, 2017

The CSO DE WG of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) engaged World Social Forum in Montreal on August 2016.

On August 8-9, the participants in the Action Research on CSO Development Effectiveness and Accountability met to share on the status of their researches. The country researches presented were from Vietnam, Canada, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, and from the migrants sector. The Sharing Session on the Action Research met its objectives of providing a space for the researches to come together, share the status of the researches, and provide constructive feedback on each other’s work. The researchers were divided into pairs and each of them was tasked to provide feedback at the end of their partner’s presentation. The exercise enables the participants to take in perspectives of other countries wherein the context of implementing the Istanbul Principles are different from each other. However, challenges presented by the lack of/eroding enabling environment at country level is a common theme that is present in the presentations.

The CSO DE WG also shared its initiative called the CSO Effectiveness Awareness Check (CSO Check), which is a reinvented version of the Istanbul Principles Self-Assessment Checklist. The CSO Check {Insert link} is an online self-assessment check, which aims to help CSOs assess how the Istanbul Principles of CSO Development Effectiveness are being by an organization. The test also aims to help organizations in reflecting how they are improving in their commitment to development effectiveness.

The IP+5 workshop titled: The Istanbul Principles Five Years after (IP+5)

Civil society development effectiveness and accountability in a changing landscape was conducted on August 11. The workshop was registered as part of the World Social Forum with the aim of socializing the Istanbul Principles with the CSOs participating in the WSF. Anas El Hasnaoui of ESPACE, and the co-chair of the CSO DE WG chaired the first session of the workshop. The first session tackled the reflections and challenges on the implementation of the Istanbul Principles since their landmark adoption five years ago. The first panel featured CPDE co-chairs Jorge Balbis and Maria Theresa Lauron, former CPDE Co-chair Antonio Tujan, Jr., and former CSO Co-chair of the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment. All of them participated in the processes that eventually came up with the Istanbul Principles. The second panel on the other hand featured case stories on the implementation of the principles at country level from Management for Sustainable Development-Vietnam, Alianza ONG-Dominican Republic, and the Pacific Women’s Indigenous Networks -migrants sector.

The second session of the workshop was chaired by CPDE Co-chair Justin Kicullen. It featured an interview with Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights To Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association. This interview focused on the global phenomenon of shrinking spaces for CSOs and the opportunities for CSOs’ accountability. Case stories showing the relationship of enabling environment and CSO accountability and also the implementation of Istanbul Principles were presented by researchers from National Association of Youth Organizations-Zimbabwe, Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social-Bolivia, and council members of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation.

Aside from the workshop and sharing session, members of the CPDE present in Montreal participated in the opening march of the WSF in solidarity with other CSOs advocating for enabling environment not only in Canada but also in other parts of the world.

It should be noted that from the original 14 confirmed participants of the sharing session, only seven were able to make it due to rejection and non-action of Canadian embassies on visa applications. According to reports from the WSF organizing team, these are not isolated cases. More than 200 visa applications, which are largely from the global south countries, were denied by the Canada. This has somewhat negatively impacted the achievement of the objectives set by the WG in organizing the events in Montreal by reducing the number of the WG’s participants in its sharing session, as well as the overall number of CSOs that the workshop might have reached in its workshop. This incident speaks of how spaces for CSOs are closing down, even in the global north.#