Five years ago, civil society organisations (CSOs) from all over the world gathered in Istanbul, Turkey for the first global assembly of the former Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness (OF). This global assembly was one of the key events of the OF gathering its members, together with the results of over 70 geographic and thematic consultations which started in 2009. The assembly gave birth to the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness, a landmark document that consolidates the eight principles, indicators and mechanisms guiding CSO work at all levels of development. A year after, members of the OF adopted the International Framework which complements the Principles. The framework also provides mechanisms to strengthen CSO Accountability and offers minimum standards in achieving enabling environment. Both documents were recognised and endorsed as reference documents for more effective CSO work by governments and other stakeholders during the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea in November 2011.
Since 2012, the work to continuously promote and advocate for CSO Development Effectiveness (CSO DE) was taken on by the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), the successor of both the OF and the BetterAid. Through the CPDE Working Group on CSO DE, the work to develop capacities of CSOs, and monitor progress on the implementation of the Principles has achieved greater heights, despite a number of challenges that continue to hinder its full articulation. CPDE has recorded slow, unremarkable progress, and even backtracking, in meeting their Busan commitment on an enabling environment for CSOs since 2011. Governments in different countries have introduced various forms of legal and regulatory policy restrictions varying from NGO laws, to policy restrictions on accessing funds, and CSO surveillance.
This month marks the fifth year anniversary of the founding of the Istanbul Principles. Despite threats of shrinking democratic spaces for CSO participation, CSOs continue to step up and lay the ground for fulfilling their own Busan commitments. As documented by the CPDE through The Journey from Istanbul, CSOs showed evidence reaffirming their integral roles as development actors, working towards maximising their impact to the public based on the Principles. At present, the CPDE, through the WG on CSO DE, is implementing country trainings on capacity development, particularly around CSO Accountability and the promotion of the Principles. The CPDE has launched CSO DE and Accountability trainings in a number of countries and sectors to date. Aside from capacity development interventions, the platform continues to document evidences through publications such as the CSO Accountability Documentation Project, and develop tools to aid CSOs in assessing their own implementation. ###