- Category: News
- Published on Friday, 03 February 2012 07:58
Busan, Republic of Korea. 8 December 2011. The 4th High Level Forum (HLF4) on Aid Effectiveness, held in in Busan from 29 November to 1 December, concluded with a compromise on the direction of international development cooperation and with mixed results in protecting the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in development. With little progress made toward meeting the previous aid effectiveness commitments as well as the regressive global trend in providing and protecting an enabling environment for civil society organisations, CIVICUS highlights that true success will lie in how governments implement these renewed commitments.
As civil society reels from multiple forms of restrictions and attacks globally, one of the key expectations from Busan High Level Forum was a firm, clear and explicit commitment towards providing an enabling environment for civil society. "The evidence was clear and compelling. Since 2008, where governments made explicit commitments to provide an enabling environment for civil society, civil society around the world has seen a regressive trend of shrinking space, facing various legal, policy and regulatory barriers as well as unwarranted harassment and persecution" explains Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director of CIVICUS. Indeed, after intense advocacy and lobbying by civil society, the Busan outcome document, under paragraph 22(a), has made a reference to agreed international rights as the basis for defining an enabling environment for civil society. CIVICUS applauds this move, but remains cautiously optimistic about its impact on the ground.
Evidence suggests that the very principles born out of the Aid Effectiveness dialogue, including the principles of alignment, harmonization and ownership are being interpreted contrary to their spirit and being misused by governments to justify restrictions on CSOs access to funding and their right to operate without unwarranted interference. "We not only remain dissatisfied about the lack of specific minimum standards on enabling environment" says Belay, "but we are also concerned about the overemphasized government-centric understanding of development results during the negotiations." Paragraph 11(b), of the Busan outcome document stipulates that all development actors (including CSOs) should "align their efforts with the priorities and policies set out by developing counties." Belay warns, "We hope this statement will not lead to governments encroaching upon the independence of CSOs, their role as watchdogs and their pursuit for innovation."
On the other hand, CIVICUS welcomes the fact that, the Busan outcome document has established a framework for development cooperation that embraces traditional donors, the BRICs and the private sector. However, with so much attention being paid to bring emerging economies such as India, China and Brazil as parties to the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, negotiators failed to guarantee a firm, let alone binding, commitment by all development actors. "In particular we regret the fact that the Busan deal reduced commitments to common principles as mere voluntary commitments for the BRICs development partners in South-South Cooperation," said Henri Valot, Director of Outreach at CIVICUS. 'While CIVICUS also applauds the first explicit acknowledgment of democratic ownership as one fundamental principle of development cooperation, we remain dissatisfied with the fact that governments failed to make explicit commitments to adopt a human rights based approach to development."
Greater effort is needed to adapt the Busan principles and commitments to national contexts, promote and monitor their implementation. CSOs, as recognised development actors, must continue to be included in the dialogue. Global partnerships and international negotiations will only be successful when the enabling environment for civil society organisations is fully protected.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world