CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Archive for the ‘CSI Impact’ Category

ESRA Conference 2011 Call for Paper Proposals

Posted by civilsocietyindex on December 9, 2010

The Department of Sociology (University of Heidelberg), the Centre for Social Investment (Heidelberg), and CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Partizipation (Johannesburg) are organizing a panel on:

 “The Civil Society Index as a tool for cross-national comparisons.

Methodological issues and substantive applications”

within the context of the 4th Conference of the European Survey Research Association (ESRA), which will take place in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 18-22 July 2011.

The proposed panel will focus on the CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) as one specific tool for assessing civil society cross-nationally. Between 2003 and 2006, the CSI was implemented in over 50 countries worldwide. In 2008 the project’s methodology was further strengthened to allow for comparative analysis, and data from the current project phase (2008-2010) is available for 21 countries. The CSI uses a multilevel and multimethod approach, combining various tools to measure different dimensions (Civic Engagement, Level of Organisation, Practice of Values, Perceived Impact, External Environment) and levels of civil society engagement (micro, meso, macro). A population survey assesses the extent and the intensity of engagement of individuals in civil society. An organizational survey analyzes the structure, policies and practices of NGOs and other organized expressions of civil society. An expert survey, combined with a series of in-depth interviews with government officials, the media and other stakeholders, aims to get an external assessment on the impact of civil society in society at large. Currently, CIVICUS is developing a database to publish the data of the CSI on the Internet.

We are inviting papers presenting substantive applications of the CSI from different world regions as well as analyses of innovative methodological approaches and challenges. The aim of the session is to assess the current state of measurement applications based on the CSI and to discuss potential improvements. The best papers will be featured in one of the upcoming volumes of the “CIVICUS Study of Civil Society around the World” book series, which we are currently establishing. For scholars with a promising outline, we will be able to provide exclusive access to the full CSI data (currently under embargo).

For more information on the CSI and its methodology see the CSI Blog or the CSI webpage

A full description of the panel can be found here

Information on the Conference is available from the ESRA website

To be considered for inclusion in the scientific programme of ESRA 2011, please submit an abstract of your paper containing no more than 250 words via this ESRA website. To submit a presentation, you must sign up or log in to the ESRA website. After logging in with your account, click “Propose a new presentation” to start submitting.

 The closing date for submission of paper proposals is 14 January 2011.

We are looking forward to receiving your interesting abstract!

Michael Hoelscher & Helmut Anheier

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CSO Accountability Workshop in Sierra Leone

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 29, 2010

by CIVICUS LTA

CIVICUS has teamed up with Accountability Alert in Sierra Leone to strength the legitimacy, transparency and accountability of civil society in the country. We are hosting a 2 day multi-stakeholder workshop in Freetown on 10-11 November to launch the new national programme which seeks to raise the standard of governance within the NGO sector.

In Sierra Leone there is a pressing need for civil society to strengthen professional performance and ethical behaviour in order to address the commonly held perception that civil society organisations operate under a veil of secrecy.

There are high expectations of civil society organisations so stories of bad behaviour and hypocrisy often have a lasting negative impact in the sector. CIVICUS’ Civil Society Index (CSI) findings show that there have been high levels of financial mismanagement within civil society organisations, as well as weak internal governance and gender equity. Action must be taken to improve public trust and the credibility of the NGO sector.

There are huge amounts of foreign aid pouring into Sierra Leone with donors channelling funds into state-building, as well as providing financial support directly to civil society organisations. Accountability Alert and CIVICUS hopes to build a collective society voice that speaks out about the responsibility civil society has to adhere to agreed values and principles of accountability.

The workshop to be held on 10-11 November 2010 will be a key occasion for civil society organisations, beneficiaries, donors, INGOs and government officials to identify ways to strengthen accountability in the NGO sector. It will be an opportunity for civil society to define the models of legitimacy, transparency and accountability they want to adopt to enhance their efficiency and improve their reputation. We are very fortunate that the review of best practices will be informed by CSO accountability experts from DENIVA in Uganda and NWANGO in Cameroon, as well as CIVICUS LTA programme experiences.

The LTA Programme will report back on the progress of this important workshop and how civil society in Sierra Leone plans to tackle legitimacy, transparency and accountability challenges. CIVICUS are playing an instrumental role in bringing together civil society organisations together at a national level, alongside accountability experts and influential policy makers.

To read the full CSI Sierra Leone Country Report, click here

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A civil society success story from Kosovo

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 14, 2010

The process of NGO Law amendment in Kosovo – a brief description of civil society involvement

Prishtina, Kosovo – October 2010

Prepared by Taulant Hoxha – Program Coordinator at Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF)

 Civil Society representative in the Governmental Working Group for the NGO Law drafting process

Even though civil society in Kosovo played a very important role during the apartheid time during the 90s, when the country was under Serbian occupation, the modern concept of civil society was introduced in Kosovo in 1999, after the liberation.

The large international presence, and in particular the need for easy funds for the after-war phase, created an excellent ground for a rapid growth of the number of NGOs, which were mostly working on the emergency, reconstruction, human rights and multi-ethnic reconciliation.

This immediate growth imposed the need of legal regulation of the sector, making the NGO regulation 1999/22 one of the very first regulations/laws of the UN administration in Kosovo. For that period, it was considered as a best practice in the region, introducing easy procedures for registering and numerous fiscal benefits for NGOs.

The first attempt of the domestic institutions to transform the regulation into a law dates back to 2005, when the Assembly adopted a new NGO Law, which was never signed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) and thus never entered into force. The reasons for this blockage were restrictive provisions on the activities, registration and governmental monitoring of the NGOs.

The current Law on NGOs was adopted in February 2009, and civil society was involved in the process at the Assembly level, resulting with an acceptable law for both civil society and public institutions. However, only one year after its adoption, in March 2010 the NGO Law was again opened for amendments, officially because of some technical problems.

The initial proposed amendments by the government were considered too restrictive by civil society organizations, which advocated for their removal. These restrictions consisted on the proposals to:

–          exclude student NGOs, sports NGOs, microfinance institutions and universities registered as NGOs from the scope of this Law;

–          limit registration of NGOs to those which pursue a public benefit purpose, thus excluding the NGOs that pursue a mutual interest from the possibility to be registered;

–          limitations on property and resources of NGOs, through exclusion of real estate and personal estate from among the list of possible incomes of NGOs; and

–          non-proportional measures for failure to report on a number of requirements for NGOs with public benefit status , which will result on termination of NGOs. 

The Government invited civil society representatives to participate in the working group for this Law and the drafting is still in the process, with the Governmental Working Group concluding its work in late September 2010. The Governmental Working Group, is comprised of representatives from government, civil society, tax administration, customs and other relevant institutions, and it worked for two months to draft a Law according to European and international standards and without the above mentioned restrictions. The next phase is the Assembly Commission and plenary discussions, before its adoption and signature from the President.

To read the full article, click here: A Civil Society Success Story From Kosovo.

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Evaluating the CSI at the national level

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 11, 2010

The current 2008-2010 phase of the Civil Society Index project is now drawing to a close, and, as a consequence, it will soon be time for the end of project national evaluations to be completed. There will be numerous stakeholders involved in this process: both from within CIVICUS and the country partners. These will include those directly involved in the implementation process of the project throughout the duration of the phase.

The main intention of the national evaluations is to assess whether the project was successful in achieving the objectives that it initially set out to achieve. First and foremost, these were to capture an accurate reflection of the state of civil society in the country and to create an empirical body of knowledge about civil society. Therefore we want to answer the following principal questions:

  • Did CSI as a project achieve what it set out to do?
  • Did the CIVICUS team assist in achieving this?
  • What were the experiences along the way?
  • What are the positive lessons learned?
  • What were the negative experiences?
  • Where are the areas for future project improvement?
  • What were the problems in implementation?
  • What were the problems in project design?
  • Are there any suggestions for the future CSI?
  • How did the project affect and impact on your organization, country, government and civil society?

Marking the end of a two-year participatory process, the evaluation reports aim to provide an accurate record of the demanding and challenging journey completed by all CSI implementing countries. As such, they will help CIVICUS and country partners reflect on lessons learned for the future.

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Small states: why assessing civil society matters

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 6, 2010

– By Mark Nowottny, CSI Project Coordinator –

In 2003-2006, the Civil Society Index was implemented in Cyprus, just one of the world’s 45 small states (World Bank). In the 2008-2010 phase, the Index is now being implemented in three: Bahrain, Cyprus, Malta. According to the World Bank and the Commonwealth, who have led much of the world’s international development work in small states, it is difficult to precisely define ‘small states’, although a threshold of 1.5 million people has become the usual benchmark. No single criteria, however, whether in geography, population, or economy, can necessarily definitively capture the nature of ‘smallness’, and others are often interchangeably included in work on small states (for example, the Commonwealth includes Jamaica, Lesotho, Namibia and Papua New Guinea in some groupings).

Development, we are often told, is about people. No wonder then that international development discourses – and the money of international NGOs and bilateral agencies – have tended to align themselves with the problems of countries where the millions reside. The 20 million people of the 45 small states represent just 0.4% of the population of developing countries worldwide (World Bank).

In recent years, the discourses of international development have started to be kinder to small states, particularly because a large number of them are also islands. The spectre of climate change threatens to overwhelm low-lying states in the Caribbean and Pacific, and the self-pronounced threat of Maldives’ obliteration has turned from irrational fear to international cause celebre.

Nevertheless, few other interventions have sought to confront the more negative afflictions of ‘smallness’. In the Pacific, thousands migrate to New Zealand, only to find themselves without job, without social inclusion, and without family. Left behind are island societies gutted of their best talent, drained of their brain. In the Caribbean, American television, music, films and values are broadcast across the few miles of sea that lies between, while local artists and cultural producers struggle to create a space for the young and restless to look at the here and to look at the now, and to make peace with the idea of remaining in – and building – their small island.

These themes – these challenges – that confront the millions of citizens in small states are timeless, and precede the trends and language of international development. Frantz Fanon, Marcus Garvey and Aime Cesaire knew of them when they wrote of the face of post-colonial smallness which was more akin to mental slavery. Earl Lovelace, perhaps more sympathetically, explored the way it made those in his beloved Trinidad and Tobago think and act. In Belize, thinkers like Assad Shoman and Evan Hyde understood that the newly independent country had to take possession of its own history and reflect on its own unique problems, not look at them in the light of other countries’ very different experiences.

In these small states, it might be initially hard to see why assessing civil society matters. Certainly, the numbers do not demand it. From a research perspective, what use anyway is an accurate empirical picture of civil society in a country where there are few donors ready to change the way they spend their few pennies?

An example of active citizenship in Cyprus: the Volunteer Network Project [Management Centre]

For the CSI, it matters because the project can offer a space for reflection, and for looking inward on the state of active citizenship. In focus groups, in surveys, and in the National Workshops, the Civil Society Index offers one small space – not enough by itself, but a start – for civil society to come together to reflect on what it is doing, what it looks like, where the challenges lie, and also where the opportunities and commonalities are. These spaces for national conversations exist more rarely than one might think. Just as a picture, a song, a film, or a dance can open a window for citizens into their own realities and world, so can a forum for reflection give space for citizens to look at their actions, the effect of these actions, and where they must go in the future.

Across the Caribbean, the Pacific and the small states of the world, citizens must play an active part in confronting their own unique challenges: climate change, small-scale import economies, crime and lack of social cohesion, brain drain and, finally, cultural anomie in the face of the potential for local cultural production. The solutions might just be there: making the most of a voice on the global diplomatic stage, concerning new technologies and the creative economy, and cultural policies.

Governments and international development actors will not step up to these challenges, and will certainly not do so alone. But citizens in small states – perhaps more than anywhere else – are capable of changing the domestic paradigms of development and the national discourses of social justice to suit their own realities better. To do so, they may just need to make more use of forums offering the space for internal reflection and the opportunity to move towards being at ease with oneself. Tools such as the Civil Society Index, led by and for civil society, can perhaps be one such weapon in their arsenal.

– Mark Nowottny –

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CSI 2008-2010 – End of Phase Approaching

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 5, 2010

Following the pilot phase in 2000-2002 and the first implementation phase in 2003-2006, the CIVICUS Civil Society Index has been implemented by over 50 countries around the world since 2008. The current implementation phase, spanning from 2008 to 2010, has been a very rich and intensive participatory process. It will soon now will be coming to an end.

Almost two years after our current partners got selected to implement the CSI in their countries, many are now about to deliver the outputs of the project. Albania paved the way, by recently publishing its Analytical Country Report and Policy Action Brief – CSI for Albania. The period leading to the end of phase on 31 December 2010 is now set to yield many other Case Studies, Analytical Country Reports and Policy Action Briefs, bringing new valuable findings to the knowledge base on civil society.

Entering the home stretch of the project’s phase, the CSI National Coordinating Organisations (NCOs) have once again played a key role in successfully implementing the CSI in contexts that have sometimes been very demanding and challenging. The work and commitment of our local partners is essential to draw an accurate and deep assessment of the state of civil society around the world, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of civil society organisations, and above all to take actions for a better tomorrow.

The CSI team would like to congratulate all our partners for their ongoing work, their perseverance and their strong commitment to the CSI project, and looks forward to sharing more CSI findings and publications from CSI implementing countries in the coming weeks and months.

You can keep up to date with developments by following our blog regularly.

You can find out more about the current CSI implementation phase on the CSI website.

You can also find the full list of the countries currently implementing CSI here.

If you have any question about the Civil Society Index, please contact us on index@civicus.org

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Albanian Policy Action Brief is ready!

Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 20, 2010

The Albanian CSI partner, the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) was the first to publish its CSI Country Report in July 2010. Now the official Policy Action Brief, the final output of the CSI implementation, is ready for print. Congratulations to the IDM team!

The Policy Brief draws on the recommendations from both the Country Report as well as the CSI national workshop, where working groups on each of the CSI Diamond dimensions presented their agenda for change.

Some of the main recommendations from the Policy Brief, which is addressed to Albanian civil society, government, as well as international donors, are:

  • In order to increase citizen engagement and participation in civil society activities, the Policy Brief recommends that CSOs must rely on and engage citizens as stakeholders more actively rather than perceiving citizens only as beneficiaries.
  • CSO accountability and good governance continues to be one of the main challenges of Albanian CSOs. It is thus recommended that the state put in place improved legislation to give CSOs incentives to be more accountable for their actions. Further, a donor coordination forum is suggested in order to overcome some of the concerns and challenges.
  • In order to improve CSO impact on policies and other processes in society, the Policy Brief recommends, amongst other, a long-term strategy to be put in place to improve CSO, state and interest-group relations. Also, actions to improve civil society’s public image need to be implemented.
  • One of the main target groups of the Albanian Policy Brief is the donor community, and a main recommendation to particularly international donors is to diversify its focus in both thematic and geographical coverage. In addition, the coordination between donors is suggested as an important step in order to improve the current challenges.

It was identified, however, that the root causes and effects for these problems are not isolated within a single context. Therefore, a holistic approach to addressing some of the concerns is critical.

The Albanian Policy Action Brief is the first one of the current CSI implementation phase. It augurs a long series of new reports coming soon!

To read the entire Policy Brief, please download the Albania Policy Action Brief. The Policy Brief is also available in Albanian.

If you wish to contact IDM for any follow-up actions as recommended in this Policy Brief, feel free to write to index@civicus.org and we will put you in contact with the right persons.

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The state of Civil Society in Mexico: CSI National Workshop

Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 9, 2010

Our partners in Mexico, el Centro Mexicano de Filantropía (CEMEFI) e Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura del Diálogo, who are in charge of the national implementation of the Civil Society Index, presented the findings on the state of the civil society  during their National Workshop that took place on the 12th of August, and was named:  “The state of the Mexican Civil Society

The workshop was attended by civil society organizations, governmental officers, academic institutions, private sector organizations and foundations, the aim of the workshop was to facilitate the space where to discuss strategic issues to strengthen the Mexican civil society and agree on a national agenda.

Please visit our partner’s web page to get a full picture of the event: CEMEFI

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El Estado de la Sociedad Civil en México: Taller Nacional del ISC

Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 9, 2010

Nuestros socios en México, el Centro Mexicano de Filantropía (CEMEFI) e Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura del Diálogo, encargados de la implementación del Índice de la Sociedad Civil a nivel nacional,  presentaron el pasado 12 de agosto los resultados del ISC en el marco del Taller Nacional sobre el “Estado de la Sociedad Civil en México”.

El en el taller nacional participaron organizaciones de la sociedad civil, gobierno, instituciones académicas, empresas y fundaciones empresariales, con el objetivo de revisar los puntos estratégicos para fortalecer a la sociedad civil en México y acordar los puntos básicos para conformar una agenda nacional.

CEMEFI destaco que el ISC, implico una investigación que permitió conocer a fondo la estructura de la sociedad civil en México, sus principales obstáculos, las percepciones de la misma hacia adentro y hacia afuera, y los valores con los cuales estructuran su trabajo.

Algunos de los hallazgos del informe presentado fueron:

La diversidad de la participación en la sociedad civil muestra que hay una gran variedad de participantes y muchos de ellos pertenecen a grupos históricamente excluidos o vulnerables, tales como los indígenas y personas con algún tipo de discapacidad.

La composición de las organizaciones de sociedad civil en México aún es frágil, pues las personas que laboran en ellas son mayoritariamente voluntarios que no perciben ingresos o que trabajan en condiciones laborales precarias. Ello muestra que el nivel de desarrollo institucional de este sector todavía es bajo y poco reconocido en México.

Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil  en México que cuentan con mayor número de miembros son las organizaciones religiosas. Mientras que las organizaciones de medio ambiente suman 5% de miembros.

La sociedad civil mexicana tiene un mejor nivel en cuanto a la práctica de valores democráticos y liberales, que en compromiso cívico el cual no está tan desarrollado.

Con respecto a las condiciones socioeconómicas, políticas y culturales dentro de las cuales la sociedad civil funciona, destacan datos como que el 87% de la población encuestada declara ser tolerante y 78.6% actuar con corresponsabilidad. Aunque contrastantemente, las personas no quieren tener como vecinos a: drogadictos (70%), alcohólicos (47%), y homosexuales (23%).

Más del 70% de las personas entrevistadas tienen poca o nada confianza en funcionarios públicos (partidos políticos, el Poder Judicial, el Congreso y la policía).

En los próximos meses estará disponible el informe completo sobre el Estado de la Sociedad Civil Mexicana. Para una cobertura mas completa del informe presentado durante el taller nacional, visite la pagina de CEMEFI clickeando aquí.

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CSI’s External Impact Assessment Report

Posted by civilsocietyindex on August 17, 2010

The CIVICUS Civil Society Index will soon officially launch both versions of the External Impact Assessment report, which highlight key positive impacts, challenges, and recommendations from the previous Phase 2003-2006. The entire CSI team has been actively working on these documents for the past year and is greatly looking forward to showcasing these pieces at the upcoming World Assembly taking place next week in Montreal from the 20-23 of August.

The Full External Report was completed by SKAT Management, an external Swiss Consultancy. This report consists of detailed content gathered from interviewees and focus group participants. The Full External Report provides an objective point of view to evaluate the CSI’s areas of positive impact and offer recommendations for overcoming challenges. You can access the full report by clicking here.

The more concise Summary Report, compiled by the CSI team, highlights key points from the Full External Report by pointing the reader towards the CSI’s positive impacts throughout Latin America, Mozambique, Turkey, and Indonesia in the areas of knowledge generation, transparency, coalition building between CSOs and local governments, and fruitful dialogue surrounding the definition of civil society. The Summary Report also provides the public with a sense of what the CSI’s current actions in response to the challenges identified in the Full Report and feedback from partners. Examples of current CSI initiatives include: ensuring the CSI is user-friendly, continuing to support NCOs through the implementation process, strengthening networks at the regional level, and supporting linguistic diversity by encouraging the production of country reports in local languages. You can access the summary report clicking here.

Developing these documents has been a challenging, yet rewarding process, allowing the CSI to effectively examine its real impacts on the state of civil society. The CSI has surely added value to initiatives which greatly impact the strengthening of civil society.

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