Following the publication of the revised Busan Outcome Document (BOD), CIVICUS has raised several concerns regarding the global trend of the increasing dis-enabling environment for CSOs that affects their effectiveness and role as independent development actors. This is the second draft of the Busan declaration released, and whilst some civil society feedback to the first draft version was incorporated, we still have a number of concerns raised to the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness.
CIVICUS comments and proposals on the second draft of the Busan Draft Outcome Document
CIVICUS believes that even though several improvements have been made in the second draft Busan Outcome Document, it still falls short of acknowledging global trend of the increasing dis-enabling environment for CSOs that affects their effectiveness and role as independent development actors as recognized in the Accra Agenda for Action. In particular we remain concerned that the draft fails to acknowledge:
- the lack of progress by governments in creating an enabling environment for CSOs;
- the progress made by CSOs to enhance their effectiveness, accountability and transparency including the Open Forum’s Istanbul Principles and International Framework on CSO Development Effectiveness and,
- the need for governments to reaffirm and deepen their commitments to create and enabling environment for CSOs to maximize the contribution as independent development actors.
Hence based on consultations with our constituency, the CSOs key asks (CSOs on the road to Busan: Key messages and proposals) as well as the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment, Working Party on Aid Effectiveness - Cluster A, CIVICUS urges the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness to consider the following issues and amendments for the final Busan Outcome Document:
1. There needs to be a clearer and deeper commitment to promote an “enabling environment” for CSOs
Current global threats to civil society space are decreasing the opportunities of CSOs to participate as development actors in their own right and ensure their effectiveness in development. Trends in development cooperation also indicate that key development cooperation principles that emerged out of the Accra Agenda for Action and the Paris Declaration remain captive to subjective interpretations and non-compliance by numerous governments. Evidence submitted by CIVICUS, various CSOs and the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment points to this deterioration in the enabling environment for civil society, emphasising that greater clarity and deeper commitment of creating an “enabling environment” is needed.
Suggested addition to paragraph 17 c) of the BOD should outline specific objectives as described in the Task Team’s key message 4) and should read as follows:
Implement fully our respective commitments to and promote an enabling environment for CSOs as independent development actors, both in law and practice, at minimum in keeping with existing commitments in international and regional instruments that guarantee fundamental rights. These include: freedom of association, freedom of expression, the right to operate free from unwarranted state interference, the right to communicate and cooperate, the right to seek and secure funding, and the state’s duty to protect.
2. There needs to be a clearer recognition of the role of CSOs as independent development actors
The Busan Outcome Document (BOD) must go further to re-affirm and ensure the participation of CSOs as independent development actors in their own right, and differentiate them from other development actors. Paragraph 17 of BOD should acknowledge current efforts to increase CSO accountability and transparency with explicit reference to the Open Forum’s Istanbul Principles and International Framework on CSO Development Effectiveness. This is important as CSOs are committed to identifying way to better achieve and demonstrate development results and accountability, including through the better coordination of efforts and mutual learning.
Suggested addition to paragraph 17 c):
We acknowledge in this context, the Istanbul principles of CSO Effectiveness as the instrument for guiding CSO own development effectiveness agenda. An enabling environment, both in law and practice, must at a minimum be in keeping with existing commitments and regional instruments that guarantee fundamental rights of association, expression, to operate free from unwarranted state interference, to communicate and cooperation, to seek and secure funding, and the state’s duty to protect.