CSO Continuing Campaign for Effective Development: Focus on the Implementation of Istanbul Principles

Since 2011 when the Busan HLF4 shifted the global dialogue from aid to development effectiveness, civil society had been at the forefront of campaigning for effective development—recognizing that aid has the potential to eliminate the root causes, as well as the symptoms of poverty, inequality and marginalization.

Under the banner of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), civil society aims to make concrete contributions to global development through its three-year program entitled “Civil Society Continuing Campaign for Effective Development.”

At the end of the three years, the Program aims to specifically deliver the following:

  • CSOs in at least 50 countries claiming their rights in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness policy arenas;
  • CSOs in at least 50 countries working on their own effectiveness;
  • Global development and development cooperation policies that are clearly influenced by CSO advocacy positions; and
  • Multi-stakeholder initiatives at relevant national, sub-regional, regional and global policy arenas advancing enabling environment for CSOs.
  • Looking at our own effectiveness

    In the two years since Busan, CSOs from around the world have been actively promoting the Istanbul Principles and the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness. Hundreds of CSOs at the country level have developed initiatives to assess and improve CSO practice to effect development impacts on the lives of the poor and marginalized.

    The collective work of CSOs through the CSO Partnership and its sectoral and country level platforms include:

  • A Training of Trainers workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa involving 45 trainers from around the world to develop regional plans and advance development effectiveness in their region;
  • Efforts to increase awareness and exposure to the Principles and their implications for practice through the adoption of codes of conduct, workshops and learning tools adapted to country context;
  • Promotion of the Principles with official aid provider agencies and partner country governments;
  • Workshops that aim to strengthen Human Rights-Based Approaches to development cooperation;
  • Promoting development cooperation to embody gender equality as an essential condition for CSO development effectiveness;
  • Developing tools and workshops to strengthen understanding of development relationships that reflect equitable partnerships; and
  • Advancing CSO initiatives to be more transparent and fully accountable for their development efforts.
  • Reflecting on emerging results

    The efforts of CSOs to improve their effectiveness using the Istanbul Principles is starting to show results.

    For instance, the successful integration of the Istanbul Principles strengthened the capacity of grassroots communities in Cameroon to participate in local development plans. It also led to the establishment of five citizens’ councils across the country that effectively gave the people a voice in local governance platforms.

    In Georgia last year, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between local CSOs and the Parliament that officially endorses the Istanbul Principles. The MOU institutionalized policy dialogue based on mutual respect, trust and fair cooperation between legislative bodies and civil society organisations—reflecting the beginnings of equitable partnerships and solidarity.

    In Asia, CSOs in Cambodia developed its own Code of Ethical Principles and Minimum Standards for NGOs to support their work on their own organizational practices. Cambodian CSOs also played a pivotal role in developing their own self-regulation system to practice transparency and accountability.

    The commitment of CSOs to maximize their development impact is starting to bear desirable outcomes as shown by some of the many examples of CSOs working on their own effectiveness and accountability as independent development actors.

    Continuing the Campaign

    Busan was a breakthrough in its acknowledgement of the link between effective CSO work and the conditions that enable them to maximize their contributions to development. The policies and practices of governments, donors and the private sector all affect and shape the capacities of CSOs to effectively engage in development practices. Progress in realizing effective development, therefore, depends not only on CSO initiatives but also equally among all stakeholders involved in shaping the global development architecture.

    Despite strong evidence of shrinking spaces for CSOs as independent development actors, stories of good development practices attest to the commitment of CSOs to work in ways that are consistent with the principles of development effectiveness. Clearly, challenges remain and more progress is needed which is why the CSO Partnership is committed more than ever in continuing its campaign for effective development.


    Patricia Blankson Akakpo took her Master’s degree in development studies (Human Resources and Employment; Gender Studies) in the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Netherlands. Patricia has over fifteen years of experience in the field of gender and development, human resource management, resource mobilization, labour relations and project/programme management. Based in Ghana, she currently works as the Senior Programme Officer/Head of Secretariat for Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT). She has a number of published works focusing on feminism, gender, women’s rights and women empowerment. Patricia now serves as the CPDE Co-Chair for Communications and shall provide guidance to the Communications Working Group.

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