From defunding civil society to defending civil society

On Thursday 29th May 2013, during the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council, Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association presented his latest report. A thorough and open dialogue took place with government representatives as well as civil society organisations on two core thematic issues of his mandate, namely, funding of association and holding of peaceful assemblies.

To further and enrich the discussion on foreign funding restrictions and the possible responses to this growing threat to the freedom of association and civil society, CIVICUS, in partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit-Law, hosted a side event entitled “Moving from Defunding Civil Society to Defending Civil Society: a Discussion of Foreign Funding Constraints on Civil Society”. A very timely event considering the growing trend of constraints on access to foreign funding for civil society organisations. It was also the occasion for the Geneva team to welcome back our Secretary General Danny for another fruitful though fleeting visit of two hours. Continue reading

Civil Society in crisis: Civil Society funding and the way forward (23 May)

Many CSOs report declining funding, volatility and changing donor priorities, and in response are giving more attention to fundraising and diversification of funding sources. Financing for development and reforming the existing architecture of international aid are key issues on the global agenda for CSOs. Organised in conjunction with CIVICUS’ donors, this webinar hopes to explore techniques to weather these turbulent times.

Occupy: Reinventing leadership, governance and economic paradigms

Last week I had the privilege of addressing the Business Social Responsibility (BSR) conference in San Francisco. The conference, which brings together some of the leading players in the field of corporate sustainability, explored the theme ‘Reinventing Leadership.’ Al Gore kicked off proceedings with a provocative address including a vivid description of US legislators in thrall to business interests, a theme echoed in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman. Continue reading

It’s time to Make Aid Transparent

CIVICUS, along with 98 organisations from all over the world, is calling on governments to publish more information about the aid they give. The campaign, Make Aid Transparent, will culminate in just 4 weeks’ time at a high level meeting on Aid Effectiveness in Korea where we will be demanding that governments redouble efforts to meet their aid transparency promises. Continue reading

Meet CIVICUS World Assembly 2011 Bloggers

Bloggers, passionate about CIVICUS’ goal of a just world, spend time sharing thoughts, analysis and opinions on issues around this theme in the CIVICUS World Assembly blog:; in this podcast invites all to the World Assembly in Monytreal next month

Co-operation for effective development: Looking to Busan

Few areas of development spout as many euphemisms as aid does. The view that resource transfers from one country to another are in fact a form of justice for centuries of colonial exploitation, or, at least, mutually beneficial investments, has given rise to terms like “development co-operation”, “partner countries” and the like in preference to words like “aid”, “donors” and “recipients”. Continue reading

An Art, Not a Science

By Adele Poskitt, Policy Officer, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

As I participated in a conference last week that debated the recent trends in the monitoring and evaluation of civil society organisations, I was struck by the amount of energy and resources devoted to measuring the impact of the sector.

Around 170 development practitioners from all corners of the globe gathered at the INTRAC conference in the Netherlands to discuss how the increasing demand for value-for-money and evidence of results by aid donors is affecting the work of civil society organisations. Indeed, with growing pressure from donors who are increasingly struggling to justify their overseas development aid budgets amid domestic budget cuts, discussion was lively.

The reality is that the impact of development work has always been notoriously difficult to measure. But in today’s era of advocacy projects and quests for good governance, there are more and more new monitoring and evaluation (M&E) challenges confronting CSOs. Complex political contexts, multi-sector networks and humanitarian relief programmes in fragile environments all pose their own unique challenges to measuring the impact CSOs are having.  So the question posed to the diverse group of grassroots organisations, international NGOs, donors and government officials was: Are we doing the right thing? Rather than, are we doing things right? Continue reading