CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Archive for July, 2010

Culture of Volunteerism in Armenia Booklet

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 29, 2010

The publication is a culmination of the research done by Ms. Mane Tadevosyan and Ms Lusine Hakobyan, the national coordinator for the CIVICUS Civil Society Index in Armenia, a project within Counterpart International.

The booklet outlines the pattern of civic participation in volunteering in Armenia using three main focus areas; the regulatory environment, motivations behind volunteerism and volunteer management practices in an effort to inform policy makers on ways of improving volunteer contributions.

 UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Mr. Dirk Boberg launched the booklet in Armenia and he said that it is intended for the use of the general civic society, including students, volunteers, civil society activists and authorities and decision makers.

The information provided by the booklet is greatly informed by the study done using the CS Index which provides a quantitative and qualitative methodology for assessing the different conditions in a country that influence the civil society in the country.

 The Culture of Volunteerism is published in Armenian and English and was funded by the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Programme. 

To read the full volunteerism case study please click here:Volonterism_Eng-web

To learn more about the CSI project in Armenia, please visit http://www.advocacy.am/en/?nid=319

For more information please visit www.civicus.org

Posted in Asia, Country News, CSI Impact | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Visitor from Sudan at CIVICUS house:

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 29, 2010

On Tuesday 27th of July 2010, CIVICUS and the CSI team had the pleasure of hosting one of our CSI partners from the broader MENA region, Abdel-Rahman El-Mahdi from Sudan. Abdel-Rahman is the president of the Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA) based in Khartoum, Sudan. Abdel-Rahman started his development work in Egypt in the 1990s where he and fellow country- men and –women noticed the difficult situation many of the Sudanese refugees in that country were in. He became active in linking the international donors and the grassroots organizations assisting the refugees. When the situation in Sudan calmed down, Abdel-Rahman decided to return to his native country and become active in civil society there and has been active there since.

Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt and Abdel-Rahman El Mahdi

During his short visit to the CIVICUS house, Abdel-Rahman provided staff with an inspiring and informative talk about the current state of civil society in Sudan in the context of the recent elections as well as the possible future of expanding the space for civil societies in Sudan in the context of the impending referendum to take place in 2011. He further talked about the important role that civil society in Africa and the international community in general could play in assisting civil society in that region to develop and strengthen itself.

CIVICUS and especially the CSI team would like to thank him for taking the time to visit us during his personal holiday to South Africa and affording the CSI team the rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with one of our CSI partners.

The weekly e-CIVICUS also had the chance to interview Abdel-Rahman during his visit. Please click here to read more on his thoughts about current and upcoming challenges to civil society in Sudan.

For more information on this and other CSI partnerships, please visit www.civicus.org/csi

Posted in Africa, CIVICUS News, Country News, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Los desafíos del ISC hoy en Venezuela

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 23, 2010

Los desafíos que enfrentan nuestros Socios en Venezuela.

La organización Venezolana, Sinergia (www.sinergia.org.ve/) nuestro socio local encargado de la implementación del ISC, enfrenta como tantas otras organizaciones en Venezuela el desafió de operar en un contexto político adverso que  ha venido potenciando mecanismos inhibidores de la libre asociación y la libre expresión.

El Índice CIVICUS  de la Sociedad Civil es una herramienta de investigación-acción compuesta por una metodología participativa e inclusiva de todos los sectores que componen la sociedad civil de un país, incluyendo a agentes del estado, organizaciones sociales de todo tipo y posición política,  la prensa y el público en general. La naturaleza misma del índice promueve la discusión abierta de ideas con respecto al estado de la sociedad civil y los desafíos que está enfrenta. El Taller Nacional es por excelencia el espacio donde todos los actores arriba mencionados son invitados a participar, lamentablemente muchos de nuestro socios en América Latina han sufrido la ausencia de importantes actores sociales en posiciones gubernamentales como consecuencia de la ruptura del  dialogo por parte de agentes del estado. Intentar ser independientes ha sido interpretado como ser opositor o simplemente el enemigo.

Durante la implementación del ISC Sinergia enfrento el desafió de posicionarse como un agente independiente abierto al dialogo, logrando la mayor y más amplia participación posible, creando espacios abiertos al dialogo. Sin embargo la polarización política que sufre Venezuela  impido que actores cercanos al gobierno entendieran estos espacios como espacios de libertad y construcción.

Desde el equipo del ISC creemos firmemente en el papel que una sociedad civil independiente puede cumplir como elemento clave para el desarrollo, el dialogo y el afianzamiento de la participación ciudadana, promoviendo valores democráticos y promoviendo el cambio social. Consideramos que los últimos acontecimientos con respecto al cuestionamiento y descalificación por parte del gobierno para con las organizaciones sociales en Venezuela, no ayuda a construir un ámbito de dialogo y progreso. Como promotores de una sociedad civil independiente y activa, condenamos el hostigamiento a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil en Venezuela.

Para mas información sobre la situación de la sociedad civil en Venezuela, por favor visite nuestro proyecto sobre Alerta Temprana:  Early Warning System y lea el ultimo informe sobre Venezuela  aqui.

Acceda al comunicado de Foro por la vida clickeando aquí.

Posted in Americas, CIVICUS News, General Information | Leave a Comment »

ISTR in Istanbul: written by Megan MacGarry

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 23, 2010

Megan MacGarry is a Civil Society Index Programme Officer at CIVICUS House in Johannesburg, where she has been based since March 2010

My colleague Jacob Mati and I recently attended and presented papers at the 9th Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) in Istanbul, Turkey which ran from the 7th to the 10th of July 2010. The week proved to be an amazing opportunity for me to meet Civil Society Index (CSI) partners; the people behind the scenes, who are implementing every stage of the project, dealing with every triumph and challenge, and who are the very life of the project.

It was fantastic to meet and interact with these CSI partners at the conference and to see our project being used in everyday life and to not just observe from behind a computer screen in Johannesburg. Being new to both CIVICUS and CSI, and a Programme Officer for just four months, the conference certainly has helped me to better understand and enjoy my work with partners. To be part of a project with such history and scope as CSI, and to know that you are helping to track and measure civil society in places such as Armenia, where there has previously been very limited investigation or research possible into civil society can give a really significant feeling of accomplishment.

For me, the CSI became a living programme in Istanbul not least because it gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with current and past CSI implementers, as well as other researchers and friends of CIVICUS. What struck me in particular was that both CSI and CIVICUS seem to have impressive reputations and that they are generally well received and respected in the academic world. Working across continents and in different regions, usually in the bubble of email and telephone, can sometimes obscure these realities.

 

During the conference itself, I was fortunate enough to attend numerous workshops presented by our implementing partners, and the conference itself was warmly and very successfully hosted by our Turkish partners, the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV). Throughout the conference, it was impressive to see what relatively small civil society organisations can achieve when operating with limited resources but extremely dedicated staff.

The success of our partners has certainly made the CSI team proud. On one afternoon, I attended a half-day workshop, hosted by the Black Sea Trust, which brought together Black Sea regional CSI implementing partners to discuss commonalities in strengthens and weaknesses they had found in the civil societies within their countries. The afternoon proved to be a particularly productive, interactive and rewarding process and, I think, highly beneficial not only for the active participants but also for observers. In fact, Jacob and I both learned so much rich information about the region, the countries, our partners and even our own programme. This can only help us work better with our partners in the future.

A day later in the conference, along with our Japanese implementing partners from Osaka University and our academic partner from Heidelberg University, both of us presented papers in a session on CIVICUS Civil Society Index findings, entitled “Building On Knowledge in Strengthening Civil Society Around The World.” The session had the following paper presentations: “Comparing the Old and New Methodology of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Many Improvements and Some New Problems” by Michael Hoelscher, from Heidelberg University. “Imperatives for innovations in civil society: Reflections on experiences in the implementation of CSI (2008-2009)” by Jacob Mati, from CIVICUS CSI. “Do Action-Research Projects have Impact? Insights from the Civil Society Index Programme’s Impact Assessment” written by myself, and “The Japanese Civil Society at a Crossroad: Findings from the CIVICUS CSI Project” by Naoto Yamauchi and Midori Matsushima, from Osaka University. The panel session was very well attended with approximately 50 people present, including the chair of the CIVICUS Board, implementing partners and numerous interested parties. It was also moderated by Beniam Gebrezghi from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Overall, the week was a thrilling and invigorating – if not exhausting – experience. Meeting researchers and practitioners from around the world, active in civil society and the third sector, and hearing about new ideas and current trends, such as increasing threats to civil space and new ways civil society are responding to challenges and difficulties, meant that there was so much to take in. The conference showcased the work of some of the most accomplished and thoughtful researchers and scholars in civil society and philanthropy from around the globe. ISTR is now an established and well-regarded international association promoting research and education in the fields of philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and civil society. The hope is that it will continue to provide as excellent a forum for the development and dissemination of knowledge as it did in Istanbul this July. If it can do so, there may just be success in building a much-needed global community of researchers and scholars to better assess the emerging trends and challenges of the third sector.

For more information about ISTR and the conference:

http://www.istr.org/ and http://blog.tpi.org/?p=268

Posted in Asia, CIVICUS News, Country News, Europe | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Ben Brandzel Visits CIVICUS

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 22, 2010

Ben Brandzel recently stopped by CIVICUS to talk about his work and experiences with online campaigning and its effects on mobilization for various campaigns. Ben has vast knowledge on e-Campaigning, having worked on various campaigns such as MoveOn, GetUp, Avaaz, 38 Degrees, and most recently the 1Goal education campaign.

 

Ben spoke to some staff member about the use of online campaigning through WebPages, emails, text messages, blogs, and social media such as Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness for civil society causes. He also enlightened us on the advantages of using social media like Twitter and Facebook as opposed to text and email but said statistics show that there is no definite evidence that traditional media has been replaced by the electronic media.

CIVICUS was proud to host Ben for the short time that he was with us and thanks him for his invaluable insight into the world of online campaigning and the uses of e-media in civil society.

Posted in CIVICUS News | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

CSI welcomes new staff!!

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 21, 2010

CSI is proud to announce the addition of new members to the CSI team.

Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt re-joined CIVICUS in June as a CSI Programme Officer after having worked with CIVICUS for a period in 2008. Ikechukwu (Ike) Nwokedi joins CIVICUS from July as a CSI Research Intern and is joined by Lerato Pagiwa who will be a Communications and Outreach Intern.

The entire team is excited with the growth of the CSI Team and looks forward to the valued experiences that the new staff bring to CIVICUS and the CSI programme.

For more information on the CSI Team, click here http://www.civicus.org/staff-biographies

Posted in CIVICUS News, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

UNDP Workshop on Indicators for Development Statistical Literacy

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 16, 2010

The CSI research team attended the UNDP workshop on Indicators for Development: Statistical Literacy in Johannesburg, South Africa from May 17-19, 2010.  Jacob Mati, Tracy Anderson and Megan MacGarry, all working with statistics within the CSI programme, found the workshop highly enjoyable and left full of knowledge and enthusiasm to share their learnings more widely with our CSI partners and blog readers.

According to Diana Alarcon (the workshop leader and Senior Advisor and Cluster Leader for the Inclusive Development for Poverty Reduction, Bureau for Development Policy – UNDP),  “ The Statistical Capacity Development Course is designed to strengthen the skills of participants to use data and information effectively through the policy cycle to promote a culture of evidence-based policy making.”

 

While presented with a focus on MDG policy development, the skills and knowledge imparted are essential to the successful delivery of the CSI project, its outputs and its goals of strengthening civil society. Topics included:

  • Policy cycles and challenges for policy change
  • using strong indicators
  • the importance of detailed and clear methodology sections (known as metadata in the course)
  • advice from UNDP on how to communicate findings and write reports

 

CIVICUS has since created a brief of the vital information relevant to and useable with the Civil Society Index project and will share the brief upon request ( index@civicus.org ). Indeed, UNDP is very open about sharing this material and CIVICUS thanks UNDP wholeheartedly for encouraging us to disseminate this information with our partners. 

Diana Alarcon also mentioned that UNDP “will also offer the course materials and the training of trainers so that the course can be rolled out for a larger number of people.”  Diana can be contacted directly at diana.alarcon@undp.org for further information on the course materials or if you are interested in hosting or attending a training workshop.

Course contents can also be accessed through the web at: http://www.comunicatlan.org/onu_dev/

Posted in CIVICUS News | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

First CSI Country Report from the current phase is ready!

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 14, 2010

The Albania CSI Country Report was launched at the CSI national workshop in Tirana on the 5th July 2010 with more than 100 representatives from civil society, international donors and the EU representative to Albania. As an action-oriented assessment tool the CSI is used to assess the state of Albanian civil society. It is based on a broad definition of civil society as “the arena, outside of the family, the state, and the market, which is created by individual and collective actions, organisations and institutions to advance shared interests”.

The CSI draws a set of recommendations for all stakeholders proposing that concerted efforts need to be directed at addressing deficits in civic engagement, transparency, accountability, sustainability of actions and resources, capacities to influence the policy cycle based on local inputs, dialogue and exchange with governmental and other actors, lack of civil society platforms in remote / rural areas etc.

The Albanian workshop discussed various issues emanating from the findings of the CSI Country Report in Albania, some of which included the relationship between civil society and the political system in Albania, as well as the environment in which Albania civil society organisations operate. The report also highlights the need to build trust between the citizens and civil societies in order to foster more civic participation in CSO activities. One means to achieving increased civic engagement is through consultations with citizens and focus groups.

The CIVICUS CSI Team would like to commend the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) in Albania for the tremendous work they put into the compilation of the Country Report, and looks forward to working with IDM and Albanian civil society in addressing the identified challenges in the future.

To download the full PDF version, click here:

Posted in Country News, Europe, Reports | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability Webinar

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 13, 2010

The Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability (LTA) Programme at CIVICUS was developed as a result of the need identified by CSI to strengthen the accountability of civil society. The LTA programme provides resources, tools and training for civil society organisations wanting to participate in, or initiate, accountability activities in their networks.

 

CIVICUS is currently coordinating a series of interactive webinar sessions that will seek to build CSOs knowledge and ability to take forward activities within their own organization and networks.  The webinars will be practical sessions where participants learn about methods and techniques they could use in their organization and networks. Civil society organisations will present their experiences of accountability programmes and share lessons learnt.

 

One of the major challenges organisations cite when seeking to address their own internal accountability issues is a lack of support or information to take principles into practice. We hope these sessions will go some way to address this challenge and be a useful and productive session for all those involved.

 

CSI and LTA would like to invite you to participate in the first session on 15th July 2010, 12pm GMT.

CIVICUS Webinar:

Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability issues
for civil society organisations

15 July 2010, 12 noon GMT

  CIVICUS would like to invite you to participate in an interactive webinar entitled Introduction to Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability (LTA) issues for civil society organisations (CSOs). This is the first session in a monthly webinar series on LTA and will be held on 15 July 2010 from 12 noon to 13:30 GMT.

This monthly webinar series will bring experts and CSOs together to share their stories of implementing accountability initiatives. One of the major challenges organisations that are trying to address their own internal accountability issues tell us about is that there is a lack of support and information to put accountability principles into practice. We hope this webinar series will build CSOs knowledge and ability to implement activities within their own organisation and networks.

Session 1: Introduction to Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability Issues for CSOs
This session will address what it means for a CSO to be LTA, why it is beneficial and who CSOs are accountable to. The presenters will share their experiences of LTA programmes and how they have overcome the challenges. There will be plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion.

Future sessions in the series will look at Moving Beyond Codes of Conduct; How to ensure downward accountability; Financial Transparency; Measuring Impact as a key component of accountability; Achieving legitimacy in a restricted civil society environment. The dates for these sessions will be confirmed soon.

For more information and to register, contact Adele at adele.poskitt@civicus.org.

Participants will need to have internet and telephone connection. Everyone will be given a link to a website and will be able to view the presentation online simultaneously. Participants will interact using the telephone via an international freephone telephone number that will be provided. CIVICUS will cover any costs incurred by participants.


About the presenters of Session 1:

Anabel Cruz, Founder Director of Communication and Development Institute (ICD)

ICD, a research centre and NGO support organisation based in Uruguay, conducts regional and international projects and activities and is a well-known capacity-building and networking centre. Anabel has a long history in working to strengthen citizen participation in Uruguay and all over the world. She has conducted extensive research into the role of civil society, particularly non-governmental organisations (NGO), in building democracy and citizenship and their participation in development processes in the Latin American post-dictatorship era. She has authored and co-authored several books about the role and identity of NGOs, their impact and accountability, and her articles have been published in journals in Latin America, the US and Europe.

Anabel Cruz is an active member of ISTR (International Society for Third Sector Research) and a member of its coordinating body in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is a founder of the National Association of NGOs in Uruguay and currently the Vice-Chair of the board of Partnership Transparency Fund (PTF), an international NGO that provides small grants to CSOs in developing countries to fight corruption. She is Chair of the Board of Directors at CIVICUS.

Bonnie Kiconco K.Mutungi, Development Network of the Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA) Uganda

Bonnie is a social scientist with over 10 years experience working on governance and development issues. She has a strong background of accountability programmes and has worked on management and implementation, as well as stakeholder involvement including civil society, grassroots communities, government departments and institutions, and development partners.

Bonnie is national coordinator of the Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism (QuAM), which promotes self regulation, transparency and accountability through the adherence by NGOs to generally acceptable ethical standards and operational norms. The rationale behind QuAM is that the NGO sub-sector itself should be actively engaged in promoting certain set of values and norms as part of maintaining a public reputation for professionalism and high ethical standard.

Adele Poskitt, Senior Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability Officer at CIVICUS

Adele is a UK citizen currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has over 5 years experience of policy, advocacy and programme work on governance and anti-corruption initiatives. She has an in-depth knowledge of civil society participation in governance mechanisms and has spoken at international conferences including the UN Convention against Corruption Conference of State Parties. Prior to joining CIVICUS, Adele worked at Christian Aid in London and the Christian Council of Ghana in Accra. She holds a MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and a BA from University of Durham, UK. 

For more information please visit www.civicus.org

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“Civil Society: Challenges of today, the path for tomorrow” Albanian CSI National Workshop

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 8, 2010

A key stage of the CSI participatory methodology is the National Workshop which is conducted as one of the final stages of the CSI implementation process. The National Workshop is a space designed to facilitate the discussion and validation of the CSI findings. The National Workshop is open to the participation of various sectors such as the media, the business community, donors and academia. The workshop agenda facilitates the discussion of not only the strengths and weaknesses of civil society, but also an action plan for strengthening it.

The Albanian CSI National Workshop themed ‘Civil Society: Challenges of today, the patch for tomorrow’, took place on the 5th of July 2010 in the capital Tirana and was organized by our Albanian partner, The Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) which was represented at the workshop by Sotiraq Hroni, IDM Executive Director . CIVICUS CSI was represented by Katsuji Imata, CIVICUS Deputy Secretary General. Amongst the more than 110 attendees to the event was H.E. Ambassador Helmuth Lohan, Head of the EU Delegation to Albania whose address at the workshop can be found here:  http://ec.europa.eu/delegations/albania/press_corner/all_news/news/2010/20100705_en.htm , as well as Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett, UNDP Resident Representative and Norimasa Shimomura, UNDP country Director.

 

The workshop had two plenary sessions, the first addressed the issue of internal governance and transparency in civil society and the second session addressed the Albanian context, civil society stakeholders and its challenges. As part of the national workshop, the IDM formally launched the Albanian Analytical Country Report which can be accessed here: http://www.civicus.org/civicus-home/1411

Posted in CIVICUS News, CSI Impact, Europe | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »