From November 29 – December 1, 2011, thousands of representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs), governments, and the private sector gathered at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) in Busan, South Korea.
Following previous fora in Rome, Paris, and Accra, HLF4 delegates sought to improve the delivery and impact of development aid to billions of people. Notably, this was the first time that CSOs were invited to take part in development negotiations with their counterparts in government and multilateral institutions.
Delegates adopted the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation declaration, which establishes a framework for development cooperation that includes traditional donors, South-South partners, the BRIC countries, CSOs, and private donors.
The declaration calls on delegates to, among other things, create an enabling environment for CSOs to operate as independent development actors in a manner consistent with agreed international rights. CSOs are also encouraged to enhance their accountability and contribution to development effectiveness under the guidance of the Istanbul CSO Development Effectiveness Principles and the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness.
For the first time since the Paris Declaration, democratic ownership has been acknowledged as a principle for development effectiveness. This creates a more inclusive approach to setting development objectives at a country level than those set by governments alone.
ICNL was represented by ECNL’s executive director, Nilda Bullain, who contributed to a larger effort by CSOs to place these issues on the HLF4 agenda. In the days prior to HLF4, ICNL and several partners also participated in the Busan Global Civil Society Forum, conducting a workshop on promoting democratic space and an enabling environment for civil society in different contexts around the world.
UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, gave a speech in Busan prior to HLF4, calling on states to enable CSOs to act as independent development actors in law and in practice. Mr Kiai also called on CSOs themselves to be more transparent and use a rights-based approach to development and assistance.