CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Posts Tagged ‘CIVICUS’

WORLD SOCIAL FORUM 2011: CIVIL SOCIETY DISCUSS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN AFRICA

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 3, 2011

By Abubacarr Saidykhan, Dakar- Senegal

At the 11th Edition of the World Social Forum in Dakar- Senegal, within the campus of Cheikh Anta Diop University and at the section responsible for the faculty of Science- Economy, a civil society organisation, CIVICUS, an International alliance dedicated to strengthening citizens’ action and civil society throughout the world organised a workshop for civil society members to discuss the way forward for the civil society and human right Defenders in all African countries.

In a presentation during the gathering, it was informed that the last few years and especially in 2009 and 2010 have been particularly hard for civil society and human right defenders. It is said that negative global trends that began soon after 9/11 have come to a head as governments continued to encroach on fundamental freedoms through harsh security measures and other legal and policy restrictions.

As highlighted by the civil society watchdog groups in the session, the UN human rights bodies and other close observers confirmed that the trend began soon after the 9/11 when the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 call on all UN member states to take concrete steps to tackle terrorism. The delegates believe that the intention behind the resolution to protect innocent civilians and state structures from mindless acts of terrorism may have been sound, but the negative consequences on fundamental freedoms, including the rights of civil society actors have been devastating as governments used the climate of fear to dilute civil liberties, reduce personal privacy, lower trial standard and restrict the free movement of people across borders. Moreover, the delegates believed that the ability of citizens and civil society to express democratic dissent has been severely curtailed through a clampdown on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly in the global north as well as the south.

Speaking on behalf of his organisation, David Kode, the Policy Officer for CIVICUS: World Alliance For Citizen Participation in South Africa, who gave an overview of the whole discussion said, CIVICUS has experienced a trend over the years which is dangerous. She said there is an attack on civil society organisations in many ways in Africa. He said there are six major ways in which Governments attack on civil organisations in their promulgations of laws and regulations. He said intimidation and harassment of human right activists was one of the ways used by governments to get rid of civil society organisations. He said the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also assured them of the importance of the role played by civil society organisations despite the threats involved.

Megan MacGarry Convening Officer for CIVICUS International in Johannesburg South Africa noted that many things are getting worse for civil society members in Africa. She said there are lots of evidence that clearly show the difficulties encountered by civil society activists. She said in India the fundamental rights of her people are controlled by the Government; adding that they need real laws to make their work smooth.

Bhekinkosi Moyo the Program Director of Trust Africa from South Africa and base in Senegal, who talked about the Civil Society Role in Africa , said the main role of the civil societies is to see the issues of democratic governance. He said as civil society campaigners, they understand the whole issues of harassment before starting the campaign. He said the attack on the civil organisation is not only done by government, but also private society. He said it is unfortunate that our brothers as our own government officials used most of these undemocratic intimidations against us in our own countries.

He said right to association, assembly and to expression are all rights that need not to be registered before operations, noting that having an open society in any country is of a paramount interest. He said the role of journalists, Human right Defenders is to call on government to be accountable and also to be transparent in issues that are directly dealing with the lives of the people. He said many governments see the civil society as a threat to government functions; noting that there should be always dialogue between these two groups.

 

Advertisements

Posted in CIVICUS News, General Information, Media | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Domestically engaged, internationally, not: The state of Liberian civil society

Posted by civilsocietyindex on January 11, 2011

Over 55% of Liberian citizens are actively engaged in civic life, a percentage that can be considered quite progressive for a country less than 10 years out of a civil war. This result, which came out of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) report for Liberia released this week, illustrates a strength for Liberian civil society to address the many challenges the country faces.

Yet, not all results from the CSI report were as positive: the report also highlights the isolation of Liberian civil society. Only 2.7% of civil society in Liberia is linked or connected to the international community. The number is even lower when looking at civil society organisations (CSOs) outside the Liberian capital of Monrovia. Lack of funding and poor access to information and communication technologies mean that Liberian CSOs operate in close to complete isolation from the international civil society and development communities.

Despite this, and other challenges facing Liberia’s civil society, the report highlights remarkable successes in its ability to effectively influence public policy. The CSI report also provides evidence that civil society space in post-conflict Liberia may broaden, ensuring that citizens are given increased room and opportunity to contribute to policy and  decision-making. 

The CSI, coordinated by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, is an action-research project designed to increase knowledge on the state of civil society at the national level in order to develop strategies for action and improvement.  In Liberia, the CSI National Implementing Team, coordinated by AGENDA and with financial support from TrustAfrica and Humanity United, compiled the report, entitled ‘Beyond Numbers: An Assessment of the Liberian Civil Society. A Report on the CIVICUS Civil Society Index 2010’. AGENDA’s implementation of the project is the first in the West African country.

CIVICUS would like to commend all those who were involved in the implementation of the CSI and the publication of the Analytical Country Report in Liberia. 

Click here for the full report.

Posted in Africa, CIVICUS News, Country News, Reports | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chile Holds Second Advisory Committee Meeting

Posted by civilsocietyindex on January 4, 2011

The CSI partner in Chile held their second and final National Advisory Committee meeting for the CSI implementation project.

The project is being implemented in Chile by Fundacion Soles, with the sponsorship and support of the Bicentenary Commission.  The agenda of the meeting focused on examining the issues related to ‘changes that civil society can achieve in the national context in which it operates.’

The Soles Foundation is a non profit organisation that not only focuses on research but also strives to develop an “equitable and solidarity based society.”

To read more about the advisory committe meeting and the partner organisation, click here

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

CSI Madagascar launched and off to a great start!

Posted by civilsocietyindex on December 23, 2010

Written by: Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt and Megan MacGarry

We are very excited to report on our participation and observation last week of the official media launch and first Advisory Committee meeting, thus marking the official start of the CSI in Madagascar!

 Two very intensive days of training were held by us, with our partners Consortium National pour la Participation Citoyenne (CNPC) and Multi-Sector Information Services (MSIS), as well as full participation from the leading donors on the project, the UNDP Madagascar regional office. This training was on the complex realities and intricacies of the CSI methodology, which is currently underway in Madagascar. Everyone was rather tired due to the intensive, but exciting work done over the two days.

 However, this was to be shaken off quickly as the stage was set, at the Hotel La Residence Ankerana on the outskirts of Antananarivo, for the official launch and ceremony, as well as the first Advisory Committee meeting, marking the beginning of the project. There were numerous groups present for this prestigious event, including the United Nations Resident Coordinator Fatma Samoura, the CSI national Advisory Committee, the teams of both the national coordinating organisations MSIS and CNPC, UNDP programme staff members, two representatives from CIVICUS, and several journalists from both print and tv press present. Key speakers at the beginning of the launching ceremony included:

  • Mr Andriamoraniaina Harijaona (Niaina): Coordinator of MSIS
  • Mr Amaholimihaso Rahaga: the speaker of the Advisory Committee
  • Mrs Fatma Samoura: UN Resident Coordinator
  • And Miss Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt: CSI Programme Officer with CIVICUS.

 

From left to right: Niaina, Amaholimihaso Rahaga, Fatma Samoura, Yosi

The speakers emphasised what a great opportunity implementing the CSI project is for Madagascar, how this will hopefully impact broader participation in Malagasy society, and how this will hopefully strengthen civil society throughout the country, despite the ongoing political difficulties and constraints evident of late in the country.

There is a strong interest and participation in the project from a wide scope of stakeholders across various sectors, including from the government, the private sector, and the media. This helps to highlight how timely and valuable an evaluation of the state of civil society, such as the CSI, is. In a country where all development projects, except humanitarian projects, have been stopped due to sanctions from various international actors. Compounded by the complexities of operating in repressive and constricted environments, it is hoped that the CSI implementation will be an initiator for increased, deepened civic engagement, participation, and leadership. As Edmondine Ramaroson, the President of CNPC underlines, the findings from the project will not be an end in themselves but rather serve to create a more active and engaged citizenship throughout Madagascar. As Edmondine mentioned in her welcoming speech at the launch of the project:

Donnons – nous la main pour n’avoir qu’une unique : la résultante, suffisamment solide pour porter l’espoir que Madagascar sera hissé à la place qu’elle mérite!

It was a true honour for both of us to be present, to highlight CIVICUS’ commitment and active participation in civil society strengthening processes and showing the value of the CSI particularly in countries such as Madagascar. It was engaging and exciting to see our project in real live action in front of us- witnessing how interested and motivated the members of the AC are in the project, as it allows us to see the true participatory value of the CSI.

The Advisory Committee (AC), the two NCOs, UNDP Madagascar focal point and the CIVICUS team:

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

Armenia: Reason for optimism emerges from CIVICUS CSI report

Posted by civilsocietyindex on December 8, 2010

 

CIVICUS is pleased to announce that the second Analytical Country Report of this phase (2008-2010) of the Civil Society Index has been completed. The report, entitled Armenian Civil Society: From Transition to Consolidation, is one milestone marking the completion of the CSI in Armenia. Counterpart International Armenia implemented the project with the support of international organisations USAID/Armenia, UN Volunteers and OSCE and others.

The report, based on a variety of research sources including three quantitative surveys, shows that civil society in Armenia is moving towards consolidation. While the “Level of Organisation”, “Practice of Values” and “External Environment” dimensions of what is known as the CSI diamond are all fairly balanced, the “Civic Engagement” and “Perception of Impact” dimensions score below average (37.4% and 32.8% respectively). Further findings attribute the lag in Civic Engagement to weak levels of citizen participation, particularly for socially-based engagement (11.9%). Similarly low scores in the perceived impact achieved by civil society reflect civil society’s weak impact on social attitudes (15.2%).

 In terms of their organisation, Armenian CSOs have in many cases successfully established formal management systems, membership networks, growth and communication access. Likewise, the “Practice of Values” dimension suggests that despite the concerted efforts made by Armenian CSOs to promote their internal values, more effort is needed to make these practices and values a reality. The “External Environment” dimension for Armenian civil society suggests that state-civil society and private sector-civil society partnerships prosper where symbiotic linkages have propelled them out of the corrupt environment which has plagued Armenian civil society for a long-time.  

 Although the space for Armenian civil society faces issues of corruption, weak social capital, political patronage and clientelism, the report argues that there is significant room for optimism about the future of civil society in Armenia. In particular, the government’s willingness to work with civil society signals a determination by the country as a whole to work together towards developing a larger space for civil society in the country.

 CIVICUS would like to commend the National Implementing Team (NIT) in Armenia for the hard work they put into compiling the report and implementing the project.

 To access the full report, please click here

 

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

Barefoot Against Poverty

Posted by civilsocietyindex on November 29, 2010

 International Human Rights day on the 10th of December 2010 marks the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This unique declaration, supported by the countries within the UN, sets out 30 common standards that all human beings – whoever they are and wherever they are – should have the right to. This year, we’re trying to put Human Rights day on the map by building a community of people who will take a simple action on the day and throughout the year.

Albie Sachs, human rights champion and former Constitutional Court Judge appointed by Nelson Mandela took time to talk about going Barefoot For Human Rights.

The Barefoot Campaign is coordinated by Every Human Has Rights but it’s a platform for everyone to use to help promote human rights issues. You can go barefoot for education, for peace, for the rights of indigenous people and much more.

1.4 billion People are still living in extreme poverty, their right to a healthy living free from want being denied. By going barefoot against poverty, you are taking a first step for human rights – thinking about people who barely have food to put on their table, let alone shoes to put on their feet.

Please take your first step for human rights and spread the word. You can take action by:

Spread the word:

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

CSI Team Visit

Posted by civilsocietyindex on November 18, 2010

Last week, three former Civil Society Index staff returned to CIVICUS to share their experiences, perspectives and analysis of challenges with the current CSI project team. Janine Schall-Emden, Lorenzo Fioramonti and Wolfgang Dörner all played a critical role in the finalisation of the 2003- 2006 phase of the CSI project. Janine and Lorenzo are now married to each other!

From Left: Wolfgang Dorner; Lorenzo Fioramonti and Janine Schall-Emden

Biographies:

Janine Schall-Emden: Janine, a Venezuelan national, is currently Director for an international consultancy firm Beyond Development (www.be-dev.com), based in Bologna, Italy. She has worked on microfinance and decentralization in West Africa, as well as civil society strengthening in Latin America.

Janine is currently carrying out consultancy work for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) related to the implementation and support of the Civil Society Index project.

Lorenzo Fioramonti: Lorenzo Fioramonti is Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Bologna. When at CIVICUS, Lorenzo held the position of Senior Researcher on the Civil Society Index project, before taking on the position of Lecturer in European Studies at the University of Pretoria.

Wolfgang Dörner: Wolfgang, a German citizen, currently lives in Italy, where he is currently completing his Doctoral studies at the University of Siena. Wolfgang was involved in the finalisation of two comparative publications on the CSI data at the end of the 2003-2006 phase.

 Wolfgang is now working once again with CIVICUS as a consultant to oversee the successful delivery of a further two publications based on the CSI data, due for completion in 2011.

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

CIVICUS Statement on the Civil Society Index in Belarus

Posted by civilsocietyindex on November 12, 2010

On 1 November 2010, CIVICUS reported through its Civil Society Index (CSI) blog at https://civilsocietyindex.wordpress.com on the activities of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index partner in Belarus, the Support Centre for Associations and Foundations (SCAF). CIVICUS erroneously gave the impression that SCAF were creating a human rights platform as a part of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index project. CIVICUS would now appreciate the opportunity to apologise for any confusion caused, and to set the record straight through providing a clarification.

The CIVICUS Civil Society Index is a distinct project with a pre-defined methodology. This methodology is implemented in partnership between CIVICUS and partners in roughly 40 countries around the world. CIVICUS selects its partners carefully, drawing on a range of pre-determined criteria, and has generally good relationships with its partners. CIVICUS does not fund Civil Society Index implementing partners in implementation of the project, except in rare cases through the management of external seed grant funds. CIVICUS does not currently provide funding to SCAF.

The CSI methodology implemented by partner organisations involves, towards the end of the project, a National Workshop. At this National Workshop, CSI partners are asked to convene a process ensuring that there is geographic and inclusive representation. The objectives of the national workshop are (1) to reflect upon the CSI findings at the national level and (2) to begin to plan actions geared towards strengthening civil society. CIVICUS asks as part of the CSI project that it is involved from an early stage in providing feedback on the design of the agenda and workshop to ensure that it meets key methodological principles and standards.

On 9 November 2010, the CIVICUS CSI team learned for the first time from SCAF that the National Workshop was due to be hosted on 14 November 2010. Despite regular communication with partners, CIVICUS had not by 12 November 2010 been able to ascertain the exact nature of this workshop, nor the participants, agenda, or whether there would be sufficient CSI findings available to achieve the two key objectives. CIVICUS hopes and expects that by 14 November 2010, these will have been established in full alignment with the CSI project.    

Although the Civil Society Index is an action research project, the project stops short of involvement in the follow-up actions themselves. It does usually encourage the development of these, however, it is very rarely involved in their design or implementation. CIVICUS is therefore not currently involved in any follow-up activities or projects with SCAF in Belarus, aside from the Civil Society Index. Specifically, CIVICUS is not involved in the design or implementation of a human rights platform with SCAF, and is pleased to be able to clear up any associated confusion.

CIVICUS appreciates the significant difficulties inherent in convening successful and inclusive multi-stakeholder processes in challenging environments in which civil society may be divided. CIVICUS highly values its diverse existing partnerships and relationships, and continues to seek to play, as far as possible, a positive and constructive bridging role. Finally, CIVICUS would like to reaffirm its commitment to the successful implementation of the CSI project, including a constructive and inclusive National Workshop.

For any further queries, please contact Mark Nowottny, CIVICUS Civil Society Index Project Coordinator, at mark.nowottny@civicus.org.

Click on the links below to access original statements and reactions from Belarusian civil society.

Statement 1

Statement 2

Statement 3

Statement 4

Response to original CIVICUS CSI blog post

Posted in CIVICUS News, Europe | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

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

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

CIVICUS and CSI to attend the upcoming Black Sea NGO Forum: 21- 23 October 2010 in Constanta, Romania

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 20, 2010

By Megan MacGarry

CIVICUS and the CSI team here at the Secretariat in Johannesburg are delighted to announce that Mariano De Donatis, the new Manager for the Convening Unit at CIVICUS, will be attending the upcoming Third edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum to be held on 21-23 October 2010 in Constanta, Romania. This will be hosted by the Romanian Federation of Development NGOs (FOND).  The Black Sea NGO Forum was launched in 2008 by FOND and its partners throughout the region with support from the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation in the framework of the Black Sea Synergy. It has continued in 2009 in cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission and the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation.

The Forum aims at increasing the level of dialogue and coordination among NGOs, as well as strengthening the advocacy capacity for NGOs in order to influence development strategies in the region. It gathers NGOs from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, other EU member states and important actors in the wider Black Sea Region. The first two editions of the Forum knowledge that took place in this region, which is extremely complex from a political point of view, showed that cooperation among NGOs from the civil society represents a real potential for stability and prosperity in the wider Black Sea region.

The 2010 agenda will dedicate a space for sharing governmental actors, international institutions and donors’ perspectives, assessments and experiences, introducing their programs and interacting with NGO representatives in the search of common solutions to regional and local problems.

There are two specific sessions on the Forum’s agenda that will be of specific interest for the CSI partners and researchers. These two sessions will be continuing work that was started by various Black Sea Region CSI partners who held a very interactive session at the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) that took place in July in Istanbul, Turkey. This was led by TUSEV from Turkey, a current and former CSI implementer, along with numerous other Black Sea representatives, both CSI active or non, all supported by the Black Sea Trust, a part of the German Marshall Fund.

At the upcoming NGO Forum, various partners from this original workshop will also continue the work started in Istanbul, with various other CSI partners attending the Forum.

Numerous previous and current CSI country implementers are planning two separate events as a follow up to the Istanbul event:

1)       Open space panel on “Democracy and Citizen Participation” to discuss and work on an action plan / collection of regional cooperation ideas for the “Civic Participation” dimension of our exercise in Istanbul.

2)      Open space panel on “Challenges for the Independence of the Civil Society” panel where we can work on “Government – Civil Society Relations” dimension by suggesting some additional topics.

Mariano will be participating in these events, to lead on issues of CSI implementation, but also to follow on the very interesting Black Sea regional discussions and developments that are currently occurring. There is scope for new and exciting partnerships and networks to emerge from these discussions and interactions throughout the Forum. We both in the CSI team and CIVICUS, look forward to feedback and insights that will emerge as a result of this exciting and in-depth regional event. We congratulate our partners on this initiative and wish all participants of the Forum the best of luck in their upcoming discussions and interactions to take place over the next few days.

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