Civil Society

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are seen as distinct development actors, different from donors and governments. Sound economic policies involve a rational balance of responsibilities between the private sector, civil society and the public sector to secure sustained and widespread economic progress. CSOs can help design national strategies, deliver services, defend human rights, participate more actively in development aid.

The 3rd High Level Forum on aid effectiveness held in Accra, Ghana (September 2-4, 2008) agreed on Accra Agenda for action which articles 13 says that “we will broaden country level policy dialogue on development” and “will also engage with civil society organizations”. It also refers in article 16 the “aid is about building partnerships for development. Such partnerships are most effective when they fully harness the energy, skills and experience of all development actors – bilateral and multilateral donors, global funds, CSOs and the private sector.” Accordingly the project is based on the understanding that in order to achieve the Goals, governments must work actively with all constituencies, particularly civil society organizations. The 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held in Busan, South Korea (29 November —1 December 2011) agree on Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation through which governments, civil society organizations, private sector, local and regional organizations decided to get “united by a new partnership that is broader and more inclusive, founded on shared principles, common goals and differential commitments for effective international development. “ Article 22 stipulates that “Civil society organizations play a vital role in enabling people to claim their rights, in promoting rights-based approaches, in shaping development policies and partnerships, and in overseeing their implementation. They also provide services in areas that are complementary to those provided by states.”

There are several challenges faced by CSOs in New Member States regarding development assistance. One of the biggest challenges is posed by the limited capacity of CSOs to fully engage with development issues.

• Capacity building
The NGOs need a better basis for policy work, engaging at national and European levels in current development issues. In the New Member States NGOs need help to develop successful advocacy actions that move the development agenda forward in the right direction. Limited capacity is not restricted to those already working directly with development issues however. Increasing numbers of young, well-educated people in New Member States are interested in volunteering opportunities in developing countries but because the inability of development agencies to support such activities, they are forced to go to foreign agencies.

• Awareness raising and development education
Citizen awareness on development issues and public support for international cooperation are main challenges for development policies. Civil society organisations are the right actors to mobilise and educate citizens for international solidarity, through campaigning, formal and non-formal education and advocacy.

• Limited national development budgets in the New Member States
NMS all have reduced ODA targets, but despite this they are unlikely to meet them in time. Development cooperation is generally given a relatively low priority. NMS development policies do not all focus on poverty reduction as a main aim, instead taking politically motivated, commercial and security interests into account. The lack of transparency is another problem, as is the tendency to include such non-aid items as debt relief, student scholarships and refugee costs in ODA amounts.

• Funding for CSOs and National Platforms
For many development CSOs in New Member States, the diversification of funding sources is crucial to support their work and ensure their survival. Financial contributions from several New Member States government are at such a low level, both in terms of project funding and providing co-funding, that it hinders the ability of CSOs to develop. The inability of the non-governmental sector to secure a sustainable financial base creates difficulties not only in their daily work, but also for their long term strategies.

Research objective
The main research objective is to analyze the current state of the participation of the civil society in development assistance.

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