Source: Concord Flash 46, October 2007
A word from Brian Tomlinson - Canadian Council for International Cooperation and OECD Advisory Group on CSOs and Aid Effectiveness
In line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, the explicit question civil society organisations have been hearing from donors is: “How are Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) organising themselves to work with donors on implementing these principles?”
The starting point in addressing CSO aid effectiveness is that civil society organisations are development actors in their own right. Their roles and contributions to development goals cannot be subsumed under those of official
donors or developing country governments, however important the latter may be in achieving these development goals. In fact, it must be clear that, in discussing CSO aid effectiveness, CSOs should not be reduced to their roles in the aid regime. The most important work of CSOs may in fact be that which they undertake with their constituencies beyond the aid relationship.
In the context of the Paris Declaration on aid’s efficiency, clearly local ownership is highly relevant, but as many have suggested today democratic ownership is a key value – not the narrow notion of “ownership” currently practised in donor/government control over development plans. Respect for political rights of assembly, participation, and the right to express a diversity of ideas underlies democratic ownership. The request from Northern organisations is to build long-term North/South CSO relationships based on mutual solidarity, based on respect and honesty in working
relationships, transparency, sharing of knowledge. Mutual solidarity implies relationships based on a negotiated shared vision and mutual accountability, and based on principles of accompaniment and subsidiarity.
CSOs, donors or governments are not development actors in isolation from one another. We also have to ask how the policies and activities of each affect and interact with those of the others, and in particular, how they undermine or strengthen principles relevant to CSO effectiveness. The extent to which these guiding principles for CSO aid effectiveness overlap (or contradict) those for donors and government in the Paris Declaration is a central preoccupation from the perspective of the Accra High-Level Forum on aid efficiency next year.
See also Euforic's dossier on civil society and aid effectiveness