Issue No 578 | 22 March 2012

Rio+20: help shape the CIVICUS alliance message

As an Organising Partner of the NGO Major Group for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20 - taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 2012, CIVICUS is keen to ensure that CSOs are adequately represented in Rio+20 processes, particularly CSOs from the Global South and those not working directly on environmental issues. In order to be effective and truly inclusive of civil society views, we need your assistance. We’d like you, our members and partners, to let us know what your expectations are of CIVICUS at Rio, and in particular the messages that you would like us to take forward. We'd also like to hear of any plans you have for attending Rio+20 or organising side events.

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Developing a civil society agenda for 2013 to 2017

Twenty years since it was first conceived, the CIVICUS alliance is now in the process of developing new strategic directions that will position it to remain effective in the face of a changing world. With a need to empower those parts of civil society whose voices are often not heard, the CIVICUS Board, responsible for setting our strategy, are launching a consultative process to engage with all aspects of civil society and redefine what it means to be an alliance of civil society and citizen participation. Visit our website to find out how to participate in this consultation.

Highlights from CIVICUS

Support CIVICUS’s CivNet proposal
CIVICUS has made a proposal to the Knight News Challenge to build a civil society news network that connects activists with CSOs to develop a worldwide community of informed, inspired and committed citizens engaged in confronting the key global challenges of our time. Read the proposal online and let us know what you think!

Campaigners urge Russia to back UN action as Syria marks one year of bloodshed
A coalition of 200 CSOs from 27 countries - including CIVICUS, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and International Federation of Human Rights - is demanding that the UN Security Council unite and pass a resolution calling on the Syrian government to stop indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighbourhoods and other violations of international law, stop arbitrary arrests and torture and grant urgent access to humanitarian workers, journalists and human rights monitors. CIVICUS and the Arab NGO Network for Development took this call to the UN Human Rights Council.

Creating an enabling environment for civil society: positive noises from Europe
Governments need to take a mainstreaming approach to providing an enabling environment for civil society. A recent conference of European Union countries suggests the message might be hitting home. Read our conference report.

CIVICUS alliance assesses human rights progress in Moldova, Syria, Uganda, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
The UN Human Rights Council, which recently met in Geneva, Switzerland, saw a number of countries come under the spotlight as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, in which States report on their human rights records. CIVICUS alliance members are active in monitoring countries' progress on human rights, and made inputs to the UPR processes on Moldova, Syria, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, available on our website

Reflections from a conference on democratic transition in the Arab region
CIVICUS’ Policy and Advocacy Manager Mandeep Tiwana took part in a Oxfam Novib workshop on Democratic Transition in the Arab Region: Shaping State-Civil Society relationships.  Notably, the need to connect regionally at the government, civil society and people to people level to share good practices on democratic reform was emphasised. Read his blog.

Jamaica, the Caribbean and global governance
In his guest blog, Professor Neville Duncan, Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, shares his thoughts on the failure of global governance and the impact of this on the often marginalised Caribbean.

CIVICUS sees warning signs of impending crackdown on civil society in Malawi
The space for civil society is showing signs of shrinking in Malawi, given recent statements from the President’s Office that CSOs and the media should not make adverse comments about the President. The Southern African Development Community and Malawi’s international partners need to engage with Malawi’s government to ensure it respects the rights of civil society and the media.

CIVICUS to launch first annual State of Civil Society report in April 2012
CSO resourcing will be one of the thematic areas of focus in CIVICUS’ first annual State of Civil Society report. A key question for CSOs is whether they have sufficient resources to respond to the connected crises the world faces, and how those crises are affecting their funding position. Many CSOs are reporting declining funding, volatility and changing prioritisation of donors, and in response are giving more attention to fundraising and diversification of funding sources, particularly non-donor sources. Different types of CSOs in different locations report varying experiences and responses, suggesting part of the solution lies in the formation of new coalitions and support networks between different types of CSOs. Read the full report, April 2012.

Welcome to CIVICUS!
CIVICUS has recently welcomed a few new faces to the international secretariat team. Tor Hodenfield joins us in our Geneva office as an Advocacy Intern and Ntombizodwa Mahlangu is our new Intern in the Resource Mobilisation Unit. Akashni Pillay joins the Policy and Advocacy team and Serge Kubanza joins the World Assembly team. Alison Rousseau is our new Finance Intern and John Motssen our new Management Accountant. Welcome all!

On the road to Rio

Rio + 20Rio+20: no global goals without accountability say over 20 UN experts
In an open letter to world governments, a group of 22 UN independent human rights experts called on States to incorporate universally agreed international human rights norms and standards with strong accountability mechanisms into the Rio+20 sustainable development conference’s goals.
Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Sustainable development goals: the critical outcome from Rio+20
International momentum may be building around the notion of sustainable development goals to be defined at Rio+20. The substantial work undertaken by CSOs has been utilised by governments and other stakeholders.
Source: Stakeholder Forum

Battle on for the right to water and sanitation at Rio+20
Governments were accused at the World Water Forum of backtracking on commitments to access to water and sanitation as a human right, and efforts are being made to remove the right to water and sanitation from the Rio+20 text. The global water justice movement will be seeking at Rio+20 to defend and expand on this right.
Source: Council of Canadians


UN-HABITAT Urban Youth Fund open for entries
The UN-HABITAT Urban Youth Fund supports urban young people in developing countries on projects that address the MDGs and the Habitat Agenda. It provides young people with grants of up to US$25,000 to help implement pilot projects encouraging innovative approaches that create employment, housing, better governance and a more secure land tenure. The fund is open to applications until 15 April 2012.

Applications invited for United Nations Journalism Fellowships
The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists is accepting applications from professional journalists from developing countries for its 2012 fellowship programme. The application deadline is Friday, March 30, 2012.
Source: The Dag Hammarskjold Fund for Journalists


Webinar: civil resistance and the struggle for land: experiences in India and Brazil
This webinar, organised by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, takes place on 27 March 2012 between 2pm and 3.30pm EST. It will look at two case studies of social movements and civil resistance in Brazil and India.
Source: International Center on Nonviolent Conflict


The Value of Community Philanthropy: Results of a Consultation
Community philanthropy can be a powerful vehicle for strengthening civil society and enhancing aid effectiveness, according to a new report released by the Aga Khan Foundation USA and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The report makes the case that increasing local ownership and local accountability leads to stronger communities and should be a main focus of development aid practitioners. The results of consultations demonstrate the importance of foundations and development agencies partnering with local communities to achieve lasting development outcomes.
Source: Mott Foundation

The New Generation of Community Foundations
Community foundations have enjoyed considerable growth in recent years, not only in their number but also in their character. This emergence of a 'new generation' of community foundations is occurring within a larger context of other emerging forms of 'social solidarity' movements and institutions, including rural development philanthropy, member based organising and other hybrid forms of citizen-led actions. This new report, published by the Global Fund for Community Foundations and the Coady International Institute, explores the emerging community foundation phenomenon in the context of disillusionment with conventional channels of international aid.
Source: Global Fund for Community Foundations

Sri Lanka’s north: a recipe for renewed conflict
The Sri Lankan military’s control over the political and economic life of northern Sri Lanka is deepening alienation and anger and threatening sustainable peace. Two new reports from the International Crisis Group examine how de facto military rule and various forms of government-sponsored ‘Sinhalisation’ of the Tamil-majority region are impeding international humanitarian efforts, reigniting a sense of grievance among Tamils, and weakening chances for a real political settlement to devolve power.
Source: International Crisis Group

Post-2015 policymaking - what might happen
This new policy paper outlines three potential scenarios for the post-MDG policy process. There is a need, it concludes, for more clarity on the consultation process, some deadlines, and more understanding of the impacts of businesses.
Source: CAFOD

Alliance magazine focuses on ‘resilience investing’
The March issue of Alliance magazine argues that philanthropists and investors must begin to think about how to respond to the crisis of ecological limits that humanity faces. This includes supporting new business models to scale, helping to shift basic economic and political fundamentals, and boosting the resilience of oceans, rivers, forests and fertile soils.
Source: Alliance

Operationalising the Responsibility to Protect: Building Trust and Capacities for the Third Pillar Approach
The new international norm of the responsibility to protect to prevent crimes against humanity remains contested as a result of last year’s controversial NATO action in Libya. This new policy brief calls attention to the need to promote trust-building, consensus and collaboration, including roles for civil society.
Source: Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation

Democracy and governance in Africa - online platform
Soul Beat Africa and the Institute for Development Studies, UK offer a new online networking space to help people and organisations share information, build professional connections, identify opportunities for collaborative programming, share lessons learned, and explore ways to improve the impact of democracy and governance work in Africa.
Source: The Communication Initiative Network

News in brief

We want to share your civil society news with thousands of subscribers! Email your civil society news for the weekly e-civicus bulletin to: editor@civicus.org.

Malaysian civil society's growing importance acknowledged
The influence of Malaysia’s civil society has grown tremendously in recent years as civil society groups mushroom to fill a vacuum in the democratic space that has been heavily partisan and political. Malaysia’s Prime Minister has recently said he wants CSOs to be strategic partners of the government.
Source: The Jakarta Globe

HUNGARIAN PARTNERSHIPStrategic partnership agreements made with Hungarian CSOs
The influence of CSOs in the preparation and execution of government decisions is being recognised and strengthened in Hungary. In March 2012, Hungary’s Ministry of Public Administration and Justice signed strategic partnership agreements with 47 CSOs.
Source: Kormanyportal

GENDER EMPOWERMENTGender empowerment still lags far behind in the global village
While the UN recently focussed its Commission on the Status of Women meeting on the topic of rural women, only an estimated 3% of global official aid to rural development is earmarked for programmes which have a primary aim of improving gender equality.
Source: IPS

African civil society bodies call for a people-oriented approach for Africa Development Bank’s long term strategy
Representatives of African CSOs recently held two days of partnership talks with the African Development Bank in Nairobi, Kenya. They called for more engagement with civil society, and the promotion of dialogue and partnerships between governments, businesses and CSOs.
Source: All Africa

African CSOs demand end of water privatisation
Declaration by African organisations at the Alternative World Water Forum, Marseille, France, calls for the involvement of civil society in the management of African water resources.
Source: Alternative World Water Forum

Civil society and accountability in Africa
Recent protests against the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria offer a fresh example of mobilisation that was spontaneous, infectious and original, and which cut across class, ethnic, religious and political party divides. The protests demonstrated the soft power of association and virtual activism.
Source: Daily Times Nigeria

Mexico: a year of a new citizen’s movement
In the last year, Mexico has seen a new people’s movement resisting the heavy civilian price of the domestic war on drugs.
Source: Narco News

New EU-Kazakhstan agreement offers scope to push for human rights progress
CSOs the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and International Partnership for Human Rights have called for the EU to use its negotiations for a new cooperation deal with Kazakhstan to push for advances in human rights.
Source: Human Rights Education Association

International attention paid to human rights violations in Eritrea
44 countries have called on the government of Eritrea to end its use of arbitrary detention and torture. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Human Rights Concern - Eritrea and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcome this long overdue attention paid to widespread and systematic human rights violations in Eritrea.
Source: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

Burma - time for celebration or concern?
There are hopeful signs in Burma, such as the release of some prisoners and the upcoming by-elections in which Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi will be allowed to run, but these steps are easily reversible. While the US business community is eager to lift sanctions to access Burma's rich minerals and natural resources, it is unclear whether the current reforms are supported by the army, which continues to wield the real power.
Source: United to End Genocide

CSOs and corporates explore ways of working together
CSOs and corporate social responsibility teams came together to identify opportunities for alliances at the NGO India 2012 event, held 16 to 18 March in New Delhi.
Source: Deccan Herald

Malaysian CSO wins annual UN population prize
A Malaysian CSO specialising in family planning and sexual health, the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations of Malaysia, along with a reproductive health advocate from the United States, are this year’s recipients of the annual United Nations Population Award.
Source: UNFPA

Wigwam of hope in Canada
Canada’s indigenous peoples rally to call on the federal government to redirect budget from F-35 warplanes to Canada’s number social need – safe, warm, healthy homes combined with appropriate employment and training.
Source: Frontiers Foundation

CSOs in Tanzania form alliance to end child marriage
Tanzanian CSOs announce a plan to work together and launch an alliance in May 2012.
Source: IPP Media

Take action

AVAAZ logo
Change the law on violence against women in Morocco – sign the petition
Article 475 in Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to avoid prosecution and a long prison sentence by marrying his victim if she is a minor. Since 2006, the government has promised to strike this down and pass legislation prohibiting violence against women, but it hasn't happened yet. Sign the petition for a comprehensive law to stop violence against women, including repeal of Article 475. Over half a million people have already done so.
Source: Avaaz

European Commission consultation on CSO support
The European Commission is seeking the views of CSOs and other stakeholders on the future policy of the European Union on the support of CSOs in the field of development cooperation in partner countries. This future policy will be adopted in late 2012. In the context of the preparation for this policy, the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid is undertaking an online stakeholder consultation based on its Consultation Paper on CSOs in development. The paper is available in English, French and Spanish. Send your contribution to DEVCO-CSO-CONSULTATION@ec.europa.eu before 7 May 2012.
Source: European Commission

Connect the Dots on Climate Impacts Day
5 May 2012 will Connect the Dots on climate change. Rallies demonstrating the impact of climate change in neighbourhoods all over the world will each make a dot, and the images from around the world will be joined up to give a human, global face to the impacts of climate change. Attend an event, or start your own.
Source: 350.org


Legislative Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (open until position filled)

InterAction, the largest alliance of US-based international CSOs, seeks a Legislative Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs to facilitate advocacy by its humanitarian working groups. The Legislative Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs will be part of InterAction's Public Policy Team, and will work closely with the Humanitarian Policy and Practice Team to assist and coordinate the working groups' advocacy efforts.
Source: InterAction

ICCO and Kerk in Actie - Country Manager, South Sudan (closing date 12 April 2012)
The Country Manager, South Sudan, has responsibility to manage the ICCO sub-office, and for programmes within Sudan and South Sudan as part of wider regional programmes.
Source: ICCO

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