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Civil society and aid effectiveness: the Paris Declaration, the Accra HLF, and Beyond “Does Aid Work? Can it work better? Crucial questions on the road to Accra and Doha” A North South Institute Conference, June 2008 Brian Tomlinson Coordinator, Policy Team, CCIC Overview of the Presentation

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Civil society and aid effectiveness: the Paris Declaration, the Accra HLF, and Beyond

“Does Aid Work? Can it work better?

Crucial questions on the road to Accra and Doha”

A North South Institute Conference, June 2008

Brian Tomlinson

Coordinator, Policy Team, CCIC


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Overview of the Presentation the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • Why is the Accra High Level Forum important for CSOs?

  • Strategic CSO issues for the Accra HLF.

    • Deepening and enriching the commitment to aid reform

    • Recognizing the essential roles and voice of CSOs as development actors in their own right

    • CSO contributions to enriching the implementation of the Paris Declaration

    • Recognition and support for an independent CSO process to determine global principles and guidelines for CSO effectiveness as aid donors, recipients and partners

  • Beyond Accra?


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Why is the Accra HLF important to CSOs? (I) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • Increasing understanding among CSOs that the Paris aid effectiveness agenda and its implementation is a key political agenda shaping the role of aid in global finance for development

    • Extensive discussion and consultations among hundreds of CSOs, particularly among southern CSOs, that were enabled by the Advisory Group process

    • CSOs, particularly those in the South, who were broadly speaking unfamiliar with the PD, improved understanding through consultations, through evidence-based analysis & CSO dialogue in developing their proposals for the HLF

  • The process leading to and including the HLF has created a unique space for formal and informal multi-stakeholder policy dialogue between CSOs and the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness, with donors at country level, with developing country governments in multi-stakeholder consultations, but also recently informally between CSOs and governments.

    • While CSOs are often very critical of the extent of aid reform and have often focused on CS experience of the negative impacts of aid, the dialogue has been open and outcomes have been widely viewed by the different stakeholders as constructive, pushing towards more ambitious donor/government outcomes for Accra.


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Why is the Accra HLF important to CSOs? (II) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • Accra is seen by CSOs (as well as governments and some donors) as an important opportunity to establish a donor/government commitment to initiate further reform on critical issues for aid reform, which were largely avoided in the Paris Declaration, in a post-Accra process leading to their inclusion in a successor Declaration to be agreed in 2011.

    • While taking maximum advantage of this opportunity, unfortunately in recent weeks CSOs have grown increasingly pessimistic that donors and governments will seize this opportunity with an ambitious outcomes document (Accra Agenda for Action),

    • The first draft of the AAA has been very disappointing to CS, but also to many governments and donors. The next version released for comment on June 25th.

  • Created opportunities for CSOs to deepen understand of their roles and responsibilities in promoting effectiveness as development actors (their own and with other stakeholders)

    • CIDA’s leadership in the Advisory Group has been critically important in creating the space for inclusion of CSOs in the HLF process, but also for CSOs own deliberations, not just within the small circle of the AG, but also in multi-stakeholder consultations

    • AG synthesis of findings and recommendations, based on multi-stakeholder processes, reflect a clear advance in understanding the importance of the roles and voice of CS as effective development actors and (perhaps even essential) to achieving the principles of the Paris Declaration (enriching its implementation).


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Strategic CSO Issues for Accra HLF (I) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

Four major areas where CSOs are seeking significant progress in the HLF:

  • CSOs suggest that the success of the vision of Paris Declaration undertaking requires a deepening and enriching of the ambition of these commitments for aid reform

    • Are donors and developing country governments meeting existing commitments?

      • In the lead-up to Accra, evidence from case studies and evaluations suggest that progress in reforms in aid practice have been modest at best, often caught in technocratic debates among a very small number of players at the centre of the “aid business” (within donors, govt, international CSOs, research institutes) on aid delivery, assistance strategies and performance matrices etc.

    • In focusing on the effectiveness of aid, CSOs argue that the purpose of aid (i.e. development effectiveness) must be the key consideration in aid reform

      • The only true measure of aid’s effectiveness must be its contribution to the sustained reduction of poverty and inequalities, and its support for sustainable change that addresses the impoverishment of people and the marginalization of the vulnerable (addressing shared obligations to realize human rights, gender equality and women’s rights, democracy, environmental sustainability).

      • In the measurements of the impact of the Paris Declaration reforms, there is not one single indicator explicitly addresses sustainable human development or the centrality of gender equality and women’s rights to poverty reduction.


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Strategic CSO Issues for Accra HLF (II) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • Independent CSO Facilitating Group key positions for deepening commitments to aid reform (endorsed by more than 400 CSOs globally) to be further developed in a CSO parallel Forum in Accra:

    • Explicitly acknowledge centrality of democratic and local ownership and develop indicators to measure the participation of citizens and parliaments in deciding, planning, implementing and assessing national plans, policies programs & budgets.

    • Recognize that imposed policy conditionality undermines ownership and implement a review so that conditions are no longer a part of the aid relationship by 2010.

    • Reform the practice of technical cooperation as a demand-driven resource for developing country counterparts,

    • Make growing aid budgets more predictable and aligned to priorities determined by people who are the intended beneficiaries and affected by aid,

    • Creating robust mechanisms for accountability served by the highest standards for aid transparency. Transparency is a pre-condition for democratic ownership and accountability and there should be a multi-stakeholder agreement on international standards for aid transparency.

    • Establish development indicators for aid effectiveness based on impacts for poverty reduction, gender equality, human rights and social justice, and

    • Set a visionary agenda for the 2011 HLF that addresses the need for an equitable multilateral aid architecture, one that includes CSOs as equal development partners and enshrines human rights, social justice, gender equality and environment at the heart of aid effectiveness.


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Strategic CSO Issues for Accra HLF (III) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • Recognizing the essential roles and voice of civil society as development actors in their own right, distinct from donors and governments

    • Widely acknowledged that the PD, its commitments and implementation, have focused on donor/developing country government relationships, ignoring roles and contributions of civil society as development actors

    • CSOs as development actors are first and foremost not aid donors or aid recipients, but rather are distinct, diverse, value- and interest-based expressions of citizenship and accountability for enhanced democratic practice, as development innovators and service providers reaching into communities, as networks of social solidarity in the public realm, mediating country-specific and global webs of civic action for public interest goals

    • In these roles, the key question for CS is not “does aid work”, but rather the ways in which aid facilitates or undermines civic action for goals that are inherent in the rights of citizens and people wherever they live (and that are influenced by conditions and policies that also lie well beyond the aid system). Nevertheless the structures of aid and the aid roles of CSOs (more than $20b plus provided by CSOs) have also been very influential on the evolution of civic action for development and therefore the directions and substance of aid reforms will have a strong impact on the future trajectories of CSO capacities to play development roles.

    • The Paris process, while certainly political in its outcomes, has been important in establishing agreement on a normative framework for aid reform (the Paris Principles). CSOs make the case, now creeping into the official discourse, that Paris aid reforms will only achieve development effectiveness if these norms are enriched by a much deeper commitment to country ownership as local and democratic ownership.


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Strategic CSO Issues for Accra HLF (IV) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • How can CSOs contribute to the enriching and implementation of the Paris Declaration?

    • Highly contentious issue among CSOs, compounded by often expressed donor assumptions that the inclusion of CSOs in the Accra process simply means that CSOs will contribute directly to donor / government modalities for implementing the PD, thereby assisting in the achievement of the PD goals.

    • The work of the Advisory Group and its outcomes has been pivotal in shaping the answer to these questions for CS, and hopefully for donors and governments (although not yet evident in the draft AAA).

    • Broad CSO engagement with the Paris process dependent upon enriched approaches by donor and government to implementation of their Paris commitments.


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Strategic CSO Issues for Accra HLF (V) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • The Advisory Group and its multi-stakeholder dialogues offers important insights and ways forward to enrich the Accra process:

    • Recognize CSOs as development actors in their own right and respect civil society autonomy and diversity

    • Recognize that CS is important in and of itself as part of society’s efforts to transform itself by contributing to deepen democratic practice that includes space and support for competing visions and dissent.

    • Centrality of democratic ownership for achieving the commitments of the PD (recognize that local and democratic ownership, respect for social diversity, rights of women and accountability to beneficiary populations is an essential condition of effectiveness), which must inform approaches to

      • alignment (reaching out more broadly to country systems of consultations and participation), harmonization and coordination which is more balanced and inclusive does not undermining diversity, division of labour and builds up innovation arising from this diversity, managing for results that pay attention to indicators of social change relevant to CSOs, and mutual accountability which is directly inclusive of affected communities

    • Regular and systematic spaces for effective CSO participation in policy dialogue on aid and development effectiveness in all stages of the development process

    • All development partners adopt the highest possible standards of openness, transparency and access to information

    • A forward agenda that pilots good practices in relation to AG recommendations and builds on multi-stakeholder processes for international consensus on civil society and aid effectiveness in any future agreements on development and aid.


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Strategic CSO Issues for Accra HLF (VI) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • Recognition and support for an independent CSO process to determine global principles and guidelines for CSO effectiveness as aid donors, recipients and partners.

    • Advisory Group’s consultations and February International Forum resulted in an emerging CSO-led initiative on CSO effectiveness, whose mandate and scope will be set out in an international North/South CSO meeting in Paris, June 29/30.

    • Objectives for the process:

      • To develop an inclusive and representative global CSO process

      • To increase understanding of the principles and standards guiding CSO effectiveness in development cooperation (distinct from those of the PD guiding donors and government)

      • To promote guidelines for CSO effectiveness based on these principles

      • To generate political dialogue with donors and governments.


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Strategic CSO Issues for Accra HLF (VII) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • CSOs are responding to the issues and challenges of their own effectiveness

    • These issues include among others – legitimacy and citizen agency; constituency, interests and representivity; ownership in North/South relationships; implications of funding relationships (project modalities & core funding); voice and knowledge in policy dialogue

    • As development actors in their own right, and to assure CSO commitment to its outcomes, must be a process led by CSOs, independent of donors and government post Accra / Working Group processes to 2010

    • Can be an important complementary part of the post-Accra process for deeper multi-stakeholder deeper commitments to aid effectiveness, evolving from piloting Advisory Group recommendations.

    • A complex undertaking, given the hundreds of thousands of distinct CSOs involved as development actors, with individual mandates, varying geographic scope & dynamic roles that respond to unique contexts.

  • Building on considerable experience (and critique of practices) in the content and impact of self-managing codes of conduct, in participatory methodologies, innovative forms of global and country-based networking, north/south dialogue


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Beyond Accra (I) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • An increasing number of CSOs have witnessed and welcomed a new openness to real dialogue on issues in the process leading up to Accra, BUT…

    • The politics of post-Accra CSO engagement on aid effectiveness will be highly dependent on an ambitious commitment to work on critical issues (many of which are shared by developing country governments) over the next two years.

      • The credibility of aid reform development effectiveness for CSOs can be easily undermined by a modest set of technocratic outcomes from Accra and limited ministerial engagement.

    • There is a strong current of analysis among some important policy-focused CSOs, particularly in the South, which is highly skeptical of the DAC-based aid system as unreformable and irrevocably dominated by wider donor foreign and economic policy interests to the detriment of independent policy space for developing country governments

      • Paris-initiated aid reforms are largely donor-managed and directed to protect donor interests in so-called “fragile states” among the poorest countries, without any recognition of the responsibility of donor countries for their policies beyond aid that affect the conditions for development, issues that will be addressed at Doha a few months later.

      • Whatever the outcomes from Accra, many CSOs will place them in the context of a less than ambitious Doha review of financing for development in November.


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Beyond Accra (II) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • The credibility of Accra for CSOs will also be highly dependent upon translating commitments into reforms in donor agencies such as CIDA in ways that respect the commitments to the purpose of aid, its focus on the interests of all those living in poverty and inequality, and the integrity of global CSO engagements in development.

    • Recent overwhelming use of growing aid resources to buttress donor foreign policy interests:

      • More than 90% of $103b in new aid resources made available by DAC donors between 2000 and 2006 was devoted to non-aid items (64%) or to aid disbursements for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (28%)

    • Translating Advisory Group norms and approaches for strengthening civil society actors, north and south, into concrete guidelines for donor programmers:

      • Responsive mechanisms remain responsive; strengthen support for gender equality and women’s rights organizations; integrate consideration of civil society actors into all aid plans, among others.


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Beyond Accra (III) the Accra HLF, and Beyond

  • Irrespective of the outcomes of Accra, hopefully the Advisory Group process has laid the groundwork for increased attention to CS effectiveness

    • But will be highly dependent upon strong unconditional financial support for an ambitious process of CS engagement on sensitive issues of their own effectiveness and inter-relationships

    • Dependent on continued and increased engagement of key northern and southern CSOs and networks attracted to the opportunities of the Paris process, once Accra is over.

    • So far, there is every sign that there is a healthy convergence of a highly respected Advisory Group process among engaged CSOs, with donor support for the first phases of the CSO effectiveness process, and with already strong and diverse participation in the Paris meeting to design this process over the next two years.


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