Ilina Nesik

16 January, 2018

In recent years, governments around the world have responded to increased activism, protests and political engagement of citizens and various civil society actors with cracking down on civic space. Unfortunately, these trends have not passed the Western Balkans and Turkey by either.

As restrictions on foreign funding (in Kosovo, Turkey), barriers to registration (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey), intervention in CSOs’ internal affairs (Macedonia and Turkey), negative narratives (Serbia and Macedonia), and declining public trust in civil society in almost all of the countries become the new normal in this region, civil society and donors are going to have to adapt to this context: MORE

Ezgi Akarsu

9 January, 2018

It can be difficult to explain just what it is that Accountable Now does. Most of my friends and family still don’t understand it. Indeed, save for those who are directly working on accountability issues in relation to civil society organisations (CSOs), most people still equate accountability with simply getting an organisation’s accounts in order.

However, to us it is much more than that – a dynamic approach encapsulating all aspects of an organisation’s operations, from inclusive and sustainable practices to engaging stakeholders in the design and implementation of policies and programmes.

As we celebrate Accountable Now’s 10th anniversary in 2018, I am excited to see how far we have come in our understanding and practice of accountability.  In the past year alone, Accountable Now has taken a number of steps to advance our approach to accountability. I would like to highlight three of these and shed some light on what exactly we have been working on. MORE

Burkhard Gnärig

2 January, 2018

One year ago I reviewed the political environment in which civil society had to act and drew some conclusions for the year 2017. I expressed my expectation that “we will not succumb to Brexit and Trump” and demanded: “We urgently need to come together in a powerful global movement to defend tolerance against the intolerant, pluralism and the rule of law against authoritarianism, and our future as a global community against chauvinism and xenophobia.” What has happened in this respect over the past twelve months?

Oppressing citizens’ freedoms has become mainstream

As I write these lines the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, announces that he will not seek a second term in office due to the “appalling” climate for human rights advocacy. From our own work on citizens’ rights, we know exactly what he means: during the past year several activists who worked with us and signed the Civic Charter were imprisoned, and many citizens and their organisations suffered from increased oppression and persecution. To name just one example: ActionAid Uganda, with a very impressive history of concrete achievements in the country, suffers from a range of oppressive measures by the government including their offices being raided by the police and their bank accounts frozen.

The ethic of solidarity is being replaced by the “survival of the fittest” MORE

Isabelle Buechner

19 December, 2017

In 2015 the nine Accountability Initiatives from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, supported by the International Civil Society Centre, began working together to the develop the Global Standard for CSO Accountability. On 6 December 2017 the Global Standard was officially launched during a session at the International Civil Society Week in Suva, Fiji. Participants came from all over the world to learn more about this tool and exchange ideas to promote dynamic CSO accountability. The following are my five main takeaways from the event:

1. A standard at the global level can only be a reference
The Global Standard is a reference standard that different organisations can use in various forms. Each CSO can decide what aspects of the Global Standard are the most useful to itself and to its members, and at which moment in time. Being a reference for reflection, discussion and change, it can be adapted to different cultural, geographical and organisational needs. The participants of our launch widely agreed that is an important quality of the Global Standard that it does not impose a set of guidelines in a top-down manner. MORE

Burkhard Gnärig

12 December, 2017

When civil society organisations (CSOs) speak about power they usually refer to the power of others, and they refer to power in negative terms: power is used to oppress and exploit, power corrupts. However, such a simplistic and prejudiced understanding of power is an obstacle to CSOs’ endeavours to achieve their missions. Our sector needs to change its understanding of power in order to increase its effectiveness.

Embracing POWER as a positive concept

When looking up the definition of power in a dictionary we find that power is simply “the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way”[1]. Power as such is neither positive nor negative. It is necessary in order “to do something”, be it good or bad. This means CSOs need power to achieve the positive aims they are working for. They are part of the eternal power struggle between good and bad, egotism and altruism, short-term gains and long-term sustainability, etc. In this context it is not only necessary for CSOs to strive for maximum power, it is ethically desirable, as long as CSOs use their power consistently and effectively to attain their mission. MORE

Isabelle Buechner

5 December, 2017

Never-ending news alerts inform us almost daily that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are coming under intense scrutiny, or are even shut down, by governments around the world. Civic space is shrinking, and we as a sector, have to take measures not just as an immediate response, but also have to set up our organisations in a way so they can resist such scrutiny and action. To cope with this task CSOs need to be transparent and accountable, which enhances the trust they publicly gain. More so, CSOs need to go beyond simple housekeeping exercises and implement the voices of all their stakeholders in decision-making processes: This is what we call Dynamic Accountability.

MORE

Jan Oldfield

28 November, 2017

The ninth Global Perspectives conference took place on 1-3 November 2017 in Mexico City and brought together around 80 participants from all over the world, representing ICSOs as well as CSOs, government, and business.

In this video, you can watch a presentation from Global Perspectives, “From Supporters to Change Agents“, by Jan Oldfield, Global Engagement Director at Greenpeace International. She explores and explains how Greenpeace made changes in their organisation and, as a result, the wider civil society sector with its new approaches to resource mobilisation. She focusses on how Greenpeace looked to their supporters to play a bigger role in their organisation; shaping ideas, leading decision making and taking direct action, effectively becoming the agents by which change happens.

Ed Rekosh

21 November, 2017

Towards the end of the Global Perspectives conference earlier this month in Mexico City, one of the participants asked the leaders of some of the world’s largest international CSOs to imagine their offices around the world empty and dark. Another participant emphasised this key take-away: “Grants are for losers.”

The title of the conference, “New Resources for New Programmes,” barely does justice to the ambition of an agenda intended to urge well-established CSO leaders out of their comfort zones and into a radical re-conceptualisation of how they do their work. MORE

Patrick Watt

14 November, 2017

I recently returned from the Global Perspectives conference in Mexico City, an annual gathering of civil society leaders from around the world, for three days of discussion on the big global trends, and how they’re impacting on the work that we do. It was a diverse group, spanning the international development, governance and environment sectors from across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. It included big, mid-size and small international CSOs, platforms, and national organisations, plus a smattering of participants from donors, foundations, think tanks and academia.

Despite our very different contexts, and the spread of issues on which we’re working, there were some clear themes that emerged from the meeting. I’ve picked 10 of them: MORE

Åsa Månsson

7 November, 2017

The ninth Global Perspectives conference took place on 1-3 November 2017 in Mexico City and brought together around 80 participants from all over the world, representing ICSOs as well as CSOs, government and business. Under the topic “New Resources for New Programmes”, the conference offered a platform for exploring new approaches to both programmes and resources. With a combination of presentations, panel discussions, and interactive peer-to-peer exchange, Global Perspectives was an extremely dynamic event with open exchanges, high-quality conversations and intense networking. On D&I, we will publish some impressions from this year’s conference participants.

Having attended several Global Perspective conferences, the following five things were what stood out to me the most this year – in a very positive way: MORE