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The Siem Reap CSO Consensus on the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness

THE SIEM REAP CSO CONSENSUS
on
THE INTERNATIONAL FRAMEWORK
FOR CSO DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVENESS

AGREED BY THE SECOND GLOBAL ASSEMBLY,
OPEN FORUM FOR CSO DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVENESS ,
SI EM REAP, CAMBODIA, JUNE 28 – 30 , 2011

About the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness

The Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness is a global process set up by and for Civil
Society O rganizations (CSOs) worldwide. Its goal has been to create a shared framework of
principles that defines effective CSO development practice and elaborate s the minimum standards
for an enabling environment for CSOs, while at the same time promoting civil society’s essential
role in the international development system.
The Open Forum was formally established in July 2008 in conjunction with the 3 rd High le vel Forum
on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana, in response to various calls to civil society organizations to
sign up to the Paris Declaration. Instead of signing the Paris Declaration, civil society pushed to
define their own effectiveness as distinct b ut equal development actors. The mandate of the Open
Forum runs until the Fourth High Level Forum (HLF4) at the end of 2011 in Busan, South Korea,
where the Open Forum conclusions will be presented for acknowledgement by all participants
(donors, developin g country governments and CSOs). At the same time, the outcomes of the Open
Forum process serve as a long -term reference point beyond Busan, for civil society organizations to
improve their own effectiveness as independent development actors.

The objecti ves of the Open Forum form three key pillars:
1. Achieving a consensus on a set of global Principles for Development Effectiveness;
2. Developing guidelines for CSOs to implement the Principles; and
3. Advocating to governments for a more enabling environment for CSOs to operate.
These three components form the Siem Reap CSO Consensus on the International Framework for CSO
Development Effectiveness – the consolidated outcome of a highly inclusive and participatory Open
Forum process over the past two years.

The Open Forum consultations were guided by a representative Global Facilitation Group of CSOs
worldwide. Between 2009 and 2011, the Open Forum reached out to thousands of CSOs across the
globe through national, regional, and thematic consultations. A common aim of the consultations
focused on identifying the shared principles that guide the work of civil society in development and
the standards for an environment in which they can operate most effectively. In other words, they
sought to determine what consti tutes development effectiveness for civil society. This worldwide
process enabled the greatest possible number of CSOs, with diverse mandates for development, to
contribute, which is the foundation and legitimacy of the Open Forum’s International Framework .

In conjunction with civil society consultations, the Open Forum also held multi -stakeholder
meetings with governments and donors at regional, national and international levels. These
initiatives were structured to facilitate dialogue and discussion bet ween CSOs, donors and
governments on the enabling conditions for CSOs to be effective development actors.

Based on the inputs generated from the thousands of CSOs who participated in the consultation
process, the first Global Assembly of the Open Forum ( Istanbul, Turkey: September 2010) endorsed
the eight Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness , which form the basis for effective
development work by CSOs around the globe.

More than 200 representatives of CSOs at the second and concluding G lobal Assembly of the Open
Forum (Siem Reap, Cambodia: June 2011) endorsed the Siem Reap Consensus on the International

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Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness , with guidance to implement the Istanbul Principles .
The International Framework was develo ped following further inputs from civil society
representatives during the first Global Assembly, as well as many more national, regional and
thematic consultations that took place between the two Global Assemblies.

The International Framework is an inspirational example of global civil society achieving agreement
on the standards that guide their development work and as such provides a solid legitimate
benchmark for CSOs worldwide.

The International Framework is divided into three main secti ons:
a) Guidance for the implementation of the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development
Effectiveness by CSOs;
b) Strengthening Mechanisms for CSO Accountability; and
c) Critical Conditions for Enabling CSO Development Effectiveness: Government Policies and
Practices.
The Framework is supplemented by two stand -alone documents – an Implementation Toolkit
(which provides more detailed guidance on how to put the principles into practice within local
realities), and an Advocacy Toolkit (with guidance on how CSOs can use the messages in the
International Framework to promote a more enabling environment for civil society in specific
national and regional contexts ).

With this landmark global CSO statement, the International Framework for CSO Development
Effectivene ss, and building from a thoroughly consultative Open Forum process, civil society has
fulfilled its ambitious vision to develop a collective and consolidated reflection and commitment to
strengthen their development practices based on effectiveness princip les.

Table of content
SECTION I: INTRODUCT ION ………………………….. ………………………….. ………………………….. ………………………….. …. 5
SECTION II: THE ISTA NBUL PRINCIPLES FOR CSO DEVELOPMENT EFFE CTIVENESS …………. 7
SECTION III: STRENGT HENING MECHANISMS FO R CSO ACCOUNTABILITY ………………………… 17
SECTION IV: CRITICAL CONDITIONS FOR ENABL ING CSO DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVENESS
– GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PRACTICES ………………………….. ………………………….. ………………………….. 20
SECTION V: WAYS FORW ARD ………………………….. ………………………….. ………………………….. ……………………….. 25
ANNEX ONE: ISTANBUL PRINCIPLES FOR CSO D EVELOPMENT EFFECTIVE NESS ……………… 26
ANNEX TWO: CSO ROLES IN DEVELOPMENT ………………………….. ………………………….. ……………………….. 28
ANNEX THREE: SELECTE D KEY MESSAGES, TASK TEAM ON CSO DEVELOPM ENT
EFFECTIVENESS AND EN ABLING ENVIRONMENT ………………………….. ………………………….. ………………. 29

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SECTION I: INTRODUCTION

A commitment to strengthen civil society development effectiveness …

Millions of civil society organizations (CSOs) worldwide contribute in unique and essential ways to
development as innovative agents of change and social transformation . These contributions are
long -standing: CSOs support grassroots experiences of people engaged in their own development
efforts; are both donors and practitioners of development; promote development knowledge and
innovation; work to deepen global awarenes s and solidarity among people across national
boundaries; and they advocate and seek out inclusive policy dialogue with governments and donors
to work together for development progress.

Acknowledging not only their contributions, but also their weakness es and challenges as
development actors, CSOs have affirmed their commitment to take action to improve and be fully
accountable for their development practices. The Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness, a
CSO -led global and fully participatory process, has determined the vision and essential principles
that define and guide change for effective CSO development practice.

In September 2010, more than 170 CSO representatives from 82 countries gathered in Istanbul,
Turkey, to consider and unanimo usly adopt the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development
Effectiveness (Annex One). The Istanbul Principles are the result of thorough consultations with
thousands of CSOs in more than 70 countries and sectors.

The eight Istanbul Principles take into acco unt the diversity of CSO visions, mandates, approaches,
relationships and impacts in their development actions. Given the diversity and geographic spread
of CSOs, the Istanbul Principles must be applied in meaningful but distinct ways that are appropriate
to each CSO local context or sector.

The Istanbul Principles are the foundation for the International Framework for CSO Development
Effectiveness , adopted in June 2011 at the Second Global Assembly in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The
Framework sets out guidan ce for interpreting and aligning CSO practices with the Istanbul
Principles in diverse local and sectoral settings. The “Toolkit for Implementation of the Istanbul
Principles”, with further elaboration of guidance and indicators, will enable CSO actors to adapt and
work with the Framework in the context of their organizational mandates and program realities.

CSO development actors are profoundly affected by the context in which they work. The policies
and practices of all governments, including when they act as donors, affect and shape the capacities
for CSOs to engage in development. Progress in realizing the Istanbul Principles in CSO practice,
therefore, depends in large measure on enabling government policies, laws and regulations
consistent with the Istan bul Principles .

At the 2008 Accra High Level Forum -3 governments committed “to work with CSOs to provide an
enabling environment that maximizes their contributions to development.” Since then, many CSOs,
in both donor and developing countries, have experienced deteriorating enabling conditions for
their work. The Open Forum, therefore, welcomes and encourages further work of the multi –
stakeholder Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment and its Key

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Findings for the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness as a positive contribution upon which
to build and strengthen enabling conditions for CSOs.

This International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness is the basis for CSO engagement
and collaboration with all development actors, through the BetterAid P latform , to achieve the goals
of the Busan 4 th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF -4).

The Framework creates a renewed opportunity for collabor ation and synergies between CSOs,
developing country governments, donors and other aid actors, in support of peoples’ efforts to
achieve their own development and claim their rights. CSOs call on all governments involved in
HLF -4 to acknowledge the outcom es of Open Forum process and endorse the Istanbul Principles as
an essential basis for their policies of engagement and support of civil society in development.

An understanding of development informs development effectiveness …

CSO development effective ness speaks to the impact of CSO actions for development. These actions
for development will be effective if they bring about sustainable change that addresses the causes,
as well as the symptoms, of poverty, inequality and marginalization. For CSOs, dev elopment
effectiveness is linked to multi -faceted human and social development processes directly involving
and empowering people living in poverty and discriminated and marginalized populations.

CSOs assume no single development model, but rather focus on people and their organizations,
empowering them to make choices over how they will develop. For CSOs, development
effectiveness requires openness to many development
alternatives, which are increasingly informed by human
rights, environmental sus tainability (the Earth’s limits) and
indigenous peoples’ notions of vivir bien (“living well”).

People living in poverty and marginalized populations have
unequal access to development resources. This inequality
has persisted not only because of limited capacities and
finances for development, but also because of the
concentration of socio -economic and political power and
barriers to gender equality and rights of minorities.
Effective CSO development action must, therefore, involve
CSOs making choices and taking sides. It involves direct
engagement with populations living in poverty, not as
abject victims, but as development actors and political
proponents for development in their own right.

The CSO vision of development is informed by the diversity of their roles as development actors,
including many CSOs involved in development who are not aid actors (see Annex Two for a
summary of CSO roles in development). Increasingly, CSOs work in support of the human rights of
affected populations, rather than agents of charity responding to often externally -determined needs
and wants.

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SECTION II: THE ISTANBUL PRINCIPLES FOR CSO DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVENESS

A preamble …
Civil society organizations are a vibrant and essential feature in the democratic life of countries
across the globe. As self -governing and voluntary organizations, they are striving to be accountable
and effective organizations. CSOs have also been widely recognized as distinct and independent
development actors, w orking for development outcomes for poor and marginalized peoples. CSOs
are catalysts for social change, collaborating
with partners around shared values and
interests.

CSOs are social expressions of diversity and
innovation in development practice. They
bring a rich array of organizational values,
objectives, and means for popular
engagement, as well as sector knowledge,
structures, interests and resources.

Development is a social and political
process that is equally about peoples’
participation an d engagement to claim their
rights, as it is about development outcomes .
CSOs are , consequently , political
protagonists for development change ,
advocates for and providers of public goods. CSOs collaborate and partner with communities, with
each other and with different development actors, complementing development efforts by
developing country governments and donors at many levels.

CSOs have close and often unique connections with local processes, but also seek change at national
and global levels. B ut unlike political parties , peoples’ organizations, and social movements, which
may aspire to influence development by obtaining formal state political power, CSOs are , for the
most part, autonomous non -partisan political actors in the social realm , repre senting their own
point of view. But, in some countries, such as the Philippines, CSOs may also play direct roles
within the parliamentary system.

CSOs actions for development are also distinguished by a commitment to non -violent processes.
CSOs seek to maximize positive results, while being true to the principle of “do no harm”,
considering the full range of potential impacts of their development actions . CSOs are channels for
social solidarity, for service and mobilization to enable people to better cla im their rights and
improve conditions of life. CSOs enrich public policy dialogue with knowledge and innovation; they
are donors who find and leverage financial and human resources for development.

CSOs collaborate and may coordinate efforts with governments to seek development outcomes
consistent with international human rights standards . These standards give priority to addressing
conditions of discrimination, dis -empowerment, poverty and inequality. In many countries, CSOs
What are Principles for CSO Development
Effectiveness?
CSO development effectiveness principles are
statements of values and qualities that should inform
CSO socio -economic, political, and organizational
relationships. They are universal points of reference for
CSO activities in development, emphasizing the impact of
these actions on the rights of people living in poverty and
marginalized populations. In their diversity, CSO
development effectiveness is highly dependent on context:
their relevance to unique locales, sector, governance and
development relationships.

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play important roles engaging citizens, defending the rule of law and guarding against corruption of
public funds. As voluntary expressions of citizen action , CSOs are a measure of democratic and
inclusive development.

These char acteristics of CSOs as distinct , independent and autonomous development actors –
voluntary, diverse, non -partisan, non -violent, collaborating for change , linking development
process with results and outcomes – have informed all the Open Forum consultations . The Istanbul
Principles , set out in this Framework , are not new . They are the consensus expression of decades of
experience by thousands of CSOs involved in the Open Forum process and its consultations . As
such, the Istanbul Principles reflect CSO work and practices in both peaceful and conflict situations,
in different areas of work from grassroots to policy advocacy and in a continuum from
humanitarian emergencies to long -term development.

Although the Istanbul Principles are a consensus on essential CSO values that inform their practice,
the y cannot fully take account the great diversity in numbers, geographic locales, purposes and
challenges faced by thousands of CSOs involved in development activities. The Istanbul Principles
must be interpreted a nd applied locally in the CSO’s country and organizational context.

The Istanbul Principles are, likewise, not intended to duplicate or replace existing CSO country or
sector -specific principles or various accountability frameworks. But rather, the adoption of the
Istanbul Principles is a means to stimulate structured reflection, deeper underst anding, and
accountability for enhanced CSO development effectiveness. This is the purpose of the guidance
suggested for each principle in this Framework , which is further elaborated in an accompanying
resource, “A Toolkit for Implementation of the Istanb ul Principles”.

The Istanbul Principles: Guidance for CSO development practice …

1. Respect and promote human rights and social justice
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … develop and implement strategies,
activities and practices that promote individual and collective human rights, including the right to
development, with dignity, decent work, social justice and equity for all people.

A rights -based approach to development work has been adopted and implemented by many
CSOs. CSOs are empowering people to find their voice and secure their rights using holistic
approaches, including holding governments accountable to respect, protect and fulfill rights for
all people. These approaches address systemic causes of poverty such as inequality ,
vulnerability, exclusion and discrimination on any basis. CSOs reference important civil and
political rights, economic, social and cultural rights and international human rights standards
derived from the United Nations (UN) human rights system , includi ng the Declaration on the
Right to Development, the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, core International Labour
Organization Conventions, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW) and human rights agreements at the regional level.

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Guidance

a) Implement human rights -based approaches to development in all aspects of advocacy,
programm atic analysis, design , implementation and assessment , with mechanisms for
participation, training a nd capacity strengthening, and inclusive policy dialogue for holding
governments to account.
b) Safeguard, support and make operational the right s of affected populations and
empower women , who are often excluded, to participate in the design, implementation and
assessment of country -led CSO development activities .
c) Empower and improve the capacities of affected communities to participate in multi –
stakeholder policy dialogu e, seeking and encouraging inclusive policy processes with
government, donors and other development actors, based on international human rights law
and standards.
d) Implement genuine approaches that allow free, pri or and informed consent on the part of
affected communities and stakeholders . Build the capacity of a nd educate vulnerable
populations about their legal rights and means for recourse.
e) Establish measurable indicators for development effectiveness in relation to international
human rights standards , including gender equality, children’s rights, disability, decent work and
sustainable livelihoods .

2. Embody gender equality and equity while promoting women and girl’s rights
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … promote and practice development
cooperation embodying gender equity, reflecting women’s concerns and experience, while
supporting women’s efforts to realize their individual and collective rights, participating as fully
empowered actors in the development process.

Achieving gender equality, through addressing unequal power relations and fulfilling
women and girls’ rights – in all their dimensions – is essential for realizing sustainable
development outcomes. Vulnerability and marginalization of women and girls is
perpetuated through various forms of discrimination including economic discrimination,
harmful traditional practices, sexual exploitation and gender -based violence. The
empowerment of women, through gender equity, promotes equal access for women and
girls to opportunities, resources, and decision -making at all levels. Given t hat women are
not a homogeneous category, CSOs stress the need for diversified approaches in order to
promote women’s empowerment, safety and well -being, especially for marginalized and
disadvantaged groups of women. CSOs also acknowledge that men and boys are crucial
partners and need to be fully engaged .

CSOs are not free from gender inequalities and practices. Advancing gender equity goes
beyond improving practical conditions for women . It is also essential to redress
inequalities in power among men a nd women, tackling discriminatory laws, policies and
practices. W omen’s participation , per se , is not sufficient to guarantee that their rights and
needs will be put forward and defended and that the culture of CSOs will be transformed to

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embrace gender eq uality at the core . Explicitly including the rights and opportunities of
girls and young women by CSOs, including for many, women’s reproductive rights, is
fundamental to realizing gender equality and women’s empowerment. Women’s
organizations and movement s are essential actors in development, and have been
particularly important as a force for women’s empowerment and democratization.

Guidance

a) Integrate and implement gender equality and women’s rights in the constitutive
practices of CSOs. Organizational culture must tak e account of relevant international
treaties and agreements, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of
Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW ). This integration of gender equality and women’s
rights should be reflected in CSOs’ mandate, policies, dialogue with counterparts, gender –
responsive allocation of human and financial resources and in capacity -strengthening
programs aimed at staff and counterparts.
b) Embed gender indicators and analysis, including disaggregated dat a, in program
plans by ensuring CSO planning, implementation, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation are
based on comprehensive gender analysis as well as gender equality and women and girls’
rights indicators.
c) Invest in partnerships to increase capacities i n gender equality and women’s rights ,
including significant support for women’s organizations and movements. The participation
and commitment of men and boys in this process should be encouraged.
d) Seek opportunities for collaboration on multi -stakeholder policy dialogue to promot e
context -appropriate changes to guarantee women’s sexual and reproductive rights, their
economic empowerment, leadership and greater control over productive resources, and
imp roved political participation to further their strategi c interests.

3. Focus on people’s empowerment, democratic ownership and participation
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … support the empowerment and inclusive
participation of people to expand their democratic ownership over policies and dev elopment
initiatives that affect their lives, with an emphasis on the poor and marginalized.

Development will be appropriate and effective if it is grounded in the rights, expressed
priorities and local knowledge of affected populations. Affected populations are the primary
stakeholders in development. As they work to promote human rights and positive change, CSOs
must be respectful of the traditi ons and culture of local communities. CSO e mpowerment
activities build women and men’s collective capacities and their democratic ownership as
actors in both their communities and nations and as individuals claiming their rights. Affected
populations, th erefore, have more influence, decision -making power and resources, giving them
more control over factors that shape their lives , free of violence. Democratic ownership over
policies and development is of particular importance in conflict and post -conflict situations .
When CSOs collaborate in development initiatives with governments, CSOs seek avenues and

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outcomes for women and men to claim and exercise their rights, while protecting the autonomy
and political space for peoples’ movements and organizations.

Guidance

a) Focus CSO programming on the empowerment of women and men whose lives are
directly affected by development initiatives. Priority must be given to the voice, proposals,
development concerns and activiti es of people living in poverty (with particular attention to the
inclusion of women , girls, indigenous peoples, workers, persons with disabilities, migrants and
displaced populations) and of social movements representing disadvantaged and marginalized
populations .
b) Promote participative bottom -up approaches to democratic local decision -making and
strengthen engagement with a diversity of local CSO stakeholder voices. Ensure women’s
voices are heard in setting priorities for national and local CSO programs.
c) Strengthen the voices of women and men living in poverty and of the politically
marginalized in determining, advocating and monitoring public policies on development
through multi -stakeholder dialogue and the strengthening CSOs as non -partisan political actors
in de velopment.
d) Treat all participants in development equally regardless of legal status, ethnic background,
sex or sexual orientation, disabilities, educational and economic background or age.
e) Build awareness of the complex reality of development among public constituencies in
donor countries. Development is about solidarity and accompaniment of affected populations
in developing countries. It is not about directing change on their behalf.

f) When acting as donors, invest in CSO capacity strengthening and sustain able self –
development to enable CSO independen ce in areas of governance, finance , leadership in
program management and advocacy with other development actors . Women and marginalized
communities should have leadership roles.

4. Promote Environmental Sustainability
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … develop and implement priorities and
approaches that promote environmental sustainability for present and future generations,
including urgent responses to climate crises, with specific at tention to the socio -economic, cultural
and indigenous conditions for ecological integrity and justice.

The human rights of both present and future generations depend on development paths and
strategies where sustainability within the Earth’s limits is t he cornerstone of all
development actions. All people have the right to live and work in a healthy and sustainable
environment. Complex environmental challenges, including the urgency to mitigate and
adapt to climate change, require capacities and skills t hat advance sustainable ecosystems,
human development and are inclusive of all affected populations. Meeting these challenges
will demand environmental awareness and innovative solutions. These solutions should be
shaped by principles of environmental and climate justice and equity as well as policy

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coherence. The millions of women and men, particularly in developing countries, who are
deeply impacted by environmental degradation and climate change, bear no responsibility
for the conditions that have result in the deepening environmental and climate crises. CSOs
must explicitly give priority to local socio -economic conditions and cultural and indigenous
approaches in strengthening well -being, biodiversity and sustainability in their
development practice.

Guidance

a) Explicitly incorporate issues of environmental sustainability into CSO policies, practice,
program planning , design processes , advocacy and public engagement . Ensur e long -term
environmental and ecological integrity, listen to and support local stakeholders and recognize
the different gender roles in environmental management .
b) Build strategic alignments and collaboration between CSOs involved in environment and
develop ment initiatives . Strengthen the ability of both sectors to promote and implement
environmental and sustainable development .
c) Promote and respect the rights for all people to live and work in healthy environments ,
and support environmentally friendly pract ices of indigenous communities . N ational
development strategies and actions and individual environmental responsibilities must be
taken into account .
d) Promote the right to water, land, food , shelter and greater control over the management
of natural resources by people living in poverty and marginalized groups (e.g. indigenous and
rural women farmers). Their active participation in environmental governance and decision –
making on natural resource mana gement should be fostered. Multi -stakeholder dialogues
should be used to hold governments and the private sector accountable.
e) Influence policies and implement context -appropriate initiatives to reduce the negative
impacts of climate change, loss of bio -diversity and all forms of environmental
degradation and contamination (e.g. water resources and land). S ocio -economic, cultural and
indigenous conditions for ecological integrity and justice , based on the knowledge and
experiences of affected populations , should be integrated into policies and initiatives.

5. Practice transparency and accountability
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … demonstrate a sustained organizational
commitment to transparency, multiple accountability and integrity in their internal operations.

Transparency, mutual and multiple accountabilities and internal democratic practices reinforce
CSO values of social jus tice and equality . Transparency and accountability create public trust ,
while enhancing CSO credibility and legitimacy. Democratizing information, increasing and
improving its flow among all stakeholders, including political actors, strengthens both civil
society and democratic culture. Transparency is an essential pre -condition for CSO
accountability.
Accountability is not limited to financial reporting, but should strengthen both institutional
integrity and mutual public reckoning among development actor s, particularly focusing on

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accountability with affected populations. Community -based CSOs often have particular
advantages in implementing local grassroots -accountability processes. Progress in
transparency and accountability, however, may sometimes be af fected and limited by
challenges CSOs face living under highly repressive regimes and laws and in armed conflict
situations.

Guidance

a) Promote public accountability and transparency practices as tools to increase CSO visibility
and credibility.
b) Create the basis for mutual and multiple CSO accountabilities through easy public access
to all constitutive organizational policies and documents, including criteria against which
partners are funded and regular audited financial and programmatic reports. These reports are,
of course, appropriate to the nature and locale of the organization and based on minimum
common legal and ethical standards. Access to policies and documents must never endanger
lives or the existence of a partner organization.
c) Implement pract ices that sustain mutual and multiple CSO accountabilities, by reflecting
on power relationships, being open to challenges and criticisms, ensuring necessary resources
and establishing an agreed framework for gender -aware, equitable, inclusive and regular
dialogue. A fair mechanism should also be established for recourse to deal with arbitrary and
disrespectful actions.
d) When acting as donors, provide accessible information on all partner organizatio ns ,
including sources of funding within a framework of mutu al accountability and transparency.
The privacy and confidentiality of any information that may endanger lives or a partner
organization must be respected. Limitations on access to information may also be implemented
if requested by affected organizations, on the provision of appropriate justification.
e) Provide timely, accurate and accessible responses to public information requests ,
including gender disaggregated information. Information should, wherever possible, be
available in the appropriate languages.
f) Promote and practice a transparent and democratic culture within the organization with
accountable and effective leadership, clear assigned responsibilities, transparent operational
procedures, ethical information practices, anti -corruption policies and a demonstrat ed respect
for gender balance, human rights standards, integrity, honesty and truthfulness .

6. Pursue equitable partnerships and solidarity
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … commit to transparent relationships with
CSOs and other development actors, freely and as equals, based on shared development goals and
values, mutual respect, trust, organizational autonomy, long -term accompaniment, solidarity and
global citizenship.

Effective CSO partnerships, in all their diversity, are expressions of social solidarity . CSO
partnerships will be stronger through deliberate efforts to realize equitable and reciprocal

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collaboration and coordination, based on mutually -agreed goals and sh ared values. In the spirit
of mutual learning, such partnerships contribute experience, expertise and support to CSOs and
local communities assisting their efforts in areas that directly affect the future of their
communities. CSOs also promote transnation al peoples’ solidarity and linkages for public
awareness and citizen engagement in all countries. Effective CSO partnerships for development
require long -term commitments to negotiate common goals and programmatic objectives,
based on trust, respect, solid arity and leadership of developing country partners .
Organizational autonomy is essential for equitable partnerships. Equitable partnerships result
from deliberate attitudes and actions , by all partners, to counterbalance inequalities in power.
These po wer inequalities are the consequence of unequal access to resources, structural and
historical inequalities, gender inequities and women’s exclusion, and sometimes -large
disparities in capacity. The role of external CSOs is to enable, rather than dictate, and to amplify,
not substitute, the voices of developing country CSO actors.
Sustained and broadly -shared development outcomes will be achieved through respectful
collaboration and deliberate coordination with different development actors, particularly wit h
donors and governments. But CSOs are actors in their own right, not instrumental agents for
donors or governments. The basis for coordination must be mutual respect, agreement on the
distinct areas where goals and development strategies are shared and equality in setting the
terms for coordination and coherence.

Guidance

a) Define, c learly and explicitly , the conditions and terms of partnership s in a “Partnership
Agreement ”. R esponsibilities, contributions, decision -making processes and accountability
mechanisms must be clearly established through respectful dialogue and in a freely -determined
agreement . Adequate allocation of resources is needed to ensure the mutual strengthening of
organizations. The participation of and respect for women and their strategic gender needs is
critical for determining the conditions and terms of partnerships .
b) Build complementary actions by all partners towards shared analysis, programmatic
goals and monitoring, rather than narrow project contracts . Invest in and institutionali ze
long -term relationships rooted in partner leadership, appropriate development strategies , and
with appropriate consideration of core institutional support, mutual accountability, dialogue to
resolve differences, and the participation of all relevant stakeholders in the partnership.
c) Acting as donors , align with partner organization s’ programmatic goals, strategies and
administrative systems, wherever possible, and work to harmonize requirements with other
donors based on the partner’s syste ms .
d) Strengthen collaboration for solidarity and to create synergies for common cause among
CSOs , domestically and internationally . Utiliz e existing opportunities and structures, such as
platforms, coalitions and networks, and encourage new forms of collabo ration and inclusion of
other development actors such as academics .
e) Establish mutually -agreed conditions and mechanisms for ongoing risk management,
monitoring, evaluation , information sharing, and co -learning processes.

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f) Invest in public engagement activit ies that links domestic conditions and issues to the
reality and experiences of partners , promoting direct cross -national engagement, solidarity,
and a deeper, subjective understanding and commitment to the relationship .

7. Create and share knowledge and commit to mutual learning
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … enhance the ways they learn from their
experience, from other CSOs and development actors, integrating evidence from development
practice and results, including the knowledge a nd wisdom of local and indigenous communities,
strengthening innovation and their vision for the future they would like to see.

Purposeful collaborative processes for learning provide an indispensable foundation for
assessing sustainable development resu lts and impact, as well as enabling synergies among
different development actors. Development learning requires effective mechanisms for self –
reflection and mutual sharing of information and knowledge. Development learning
includes exchanges between CSO colleagues, peers, volu nteers , partners, affected
populations and other counterparts.
CSOs are learning organizations and should make the creation, sharing and implementation
of knowledge a key component of their strateg ies and ways of working . This l earning
approach must be self -defined, continuous, collective, iterative and based on participation,
openness and trust. Mutual -learning processes can help increase respect and understanding
between partners, notably in areas of local knowledge, cultural i ssues, gender relations,
values, spirituality and different ways of working. This learning is only possible if the power
imbalances that can hinder true mutual learning are acknowledged and addressed. Tailored
and adequately resourced capacity strengthenin g supports organizational learning and is
essential for improving CSO development effectiveness. Regular qualitative evaluation,
working closely with development partners and related stakeholders is essential to
adapting and refining strategies, priorities and working methodologies in CSO development
action. Organizational learning, however, should go beyond the more limited processes of
“managing for short -term results”.

Guidance

a) Foster opportunities and a conducive environment for systematic mutual lea rning
and exchange based on participation, openness and trust in institutional and program
activities within and between organizations. Lessons learned should inform organizational
decision -making processes, thinking and practices.
b) Establish professional and ethically responsible methods and tools to engage critically
in gathering and sharing reliable data and information on which to build CSO knowledge.
c) Encourage collaboration for knowledge -sharing among CSOs through networks,
coalitions, and multi -stake holder dialogue in order to encourage innovation, capacity
strengthening and improve development performance.
d) Acknowledge and facilitate , in CSO development initiatives and policy dialogue, the
sharing and safeguarding of local indigenous knowledge, ancestral wisdom, and

16
spirituality underpinning different approaches to development and the management of
natural resources .

8. Commit to realizing positive sustainable change
CSOs are effecti ve as development actors when they … collaborate to realize sustainable
outcomes and impacts of their development actions, focusing on results and conditions for lasting
change for people, with special emphasis on poor and marginalized populations, ensurin g an
enduring legacy for present and future generations.

CSOs achieve sustainable development outcomes by making long -term commitments,
working in partnerships, empowering communities and acting in solidarity with affected
populations . Positive developme nt change should also be sustained through the
complementari ty of development actors and a focus on the root causes of inequality,
poverty and marginalization . In post -conflict situations, CSOs play an important part in
peace and nation -building efforts. I n these circumstances, where the role and the reach of
the state may be diminished, CSOs make essential contributions and fill important gaps; but
should complement, not substitute themselves for the responsibilities of the state . It is the
responsibility of the state to deliver public goods, such as education and health, and be held
accountable. The state’s capacity, however, to deliver public goods, should be strengthened.

CSOs , whose work is often complex and long -term, acknowledge the importance of
assess ing, demonstrat ing with evidence, and communicating the impact and sustainability
of their work. Sustainable change in CSO work requires a commitment to gender equality,
throughout all aspects of development activity. The assessment of the effectiven ess of CSO
contributions to positive social change , including achieving gender equality, must be shaped
by the views of local counterparts and affected populations. The CSO assessment must also
take into account the wider socio -economic and political proce sses that enable or negatively
affect the sustainability of CSO development outcomes for change , particularly in conflict or
post -conflict situations .

Guidance

a) Strengthen CSO collaboration and policy dialogue with other development
stakeholders to maxim ize sustainable impacts of activities and advocacy on shared
and mutually -agreed development goals . CSOs should work with government to
strengthen government’s role to deliver and be accountable for the provision of public
goods .
b) Engage the private sector in development programs, including initiatives for
employment and livelihood -focused economic development , based on respect for
human rights standards, democratic ownership, decent work and sustainable development.
These efforts should address the needs for sustainable livelihoods in urban and rural
settings, promote social inclusion and create access to resources, especially for the informal
sector, for women, and vulnerable segments of society.

c) Utilize participatory tools for planning , monitoring and evaluating development

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activities , including program implementation and advocacy . Build the analytical capacities
of staff, volunteers and partners with an orientation to determining and assessing
conditions for long -term sustainable development outcom es affecting lasting change for
people living in poverty or marginalized populations .
d) Improve CSO capacities through comprehensive capacity -strengthening programs
covering areas such as equitable partnerships, advocacy, gender equality, networking and
facilitation and impact assessment.
e) Strengthen the financial sustainability and independence of CSOs by broadening their
funding base , where ver possible , in order to reduce dependence on politically -tied or
conditioned assistance .
f) Engage and educate peopl e as global citizens enhancing two -way communication with
counterparts and constituencies on equitable and just development and CSO development
effectiveness.
SECTION III: STRENGTHENING MECHANISMS FOR CSO ACCOUNTABILITY

CSO mandates are the basis for th eir responsibility to be fully accountable…

All development actors share a responsibility to demonstrate the res ults of their interventions and
actions, in particular with their primary and most -affected constituencies . CSOs acknowledge and
take seriously this obligation, which is set out in the fifth Istanbul Principle – to be fully accountable
and transparent for their development actions and results . As civil society organizations,
accountability is shaped by various distinctive organizational mandates, embedded in their work as
agents of change for the public good, with people in their communities, and with the public
constituencies that support their work. This responsibility is put into practice through the
implementation of various CSO acc ountability mechanisms, responding to different organizational
and country contexts.

As development actors, CSOs enjoy significant trust by the public and local stakeholders. Most CSOs
practice high standards of management and probity. CSOs are, also, c ontinuously responding to
legitimate calls to improve their accountability and transparency practices . They have done so by
strengthening oversight by elected Boards of Directors, ongoing and transparent dialogue with
program partners, clear communications with constituencies, accessible program reports and
external financial audits, compliance with government regulatory oversight, and through a variety
of CSO -managed Codes of Conduct and transparency mechanisms . CSO accountability mechanisms
must also add ress the mutli -directional nature of their accountabilities, often in both donor and
developing countries – first to primary stakeholders, but equally to peers, partners, public
constituencies, public and private donors.

While CSOs have a primary responsi bility for robust accountability and transparency practices,
these efforts can be circumscribed by the constraints of working in difficult political environments.
Implementing CSO accountability mechanisms can be challenging where governments fail to
prot ect fundamental human right of marginalized and discriminated populations to organize,
participate in public policy and follow community -based development paths.

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CSOs accountability mechanisms
assume many forms. These include less
formal, sometimes invisible,
accountability practices exist in smaller,
community -based CSOs. One World
Trust ha s documented dozens of
voluntary CSO accountability
mechanisms from local to country to
global (see the box for examples of
some current accountability and
transparency initiatives). Civicus , the
pre -eminent global CSO network, is
undertaking a significan t multi -year
program (Legitimacy, Transparency
and Accountability) to promote peer
learning and knowledge sharing on
good practice in CSO transparency and
accountability.

Recognizing challenges for accountability mechanisms…
CSOs face many unique practical challenges – internal and external – in demonstrating their
accountability. Challenges include the large number and diversity of CSO actors , approaches that
must respect equitable partnerships, the voluntary basis of organi zation s and action, unintended
outcomes shaped by a changing political environments and the multi -directional demands (legal,
contractual and ethical) for accountability. No single accountability model fits all situations and
types of organizations. CSOs, therefore, welcome and encourage the sharing of lessons learned in
existing practice in order to improve practical approaches to mechanisms that strengthen
individual and collective CSO accountability.

CSO processes and commitment to accountability mea ns much more than having accessible audited
financial records. Accountability for CSOs means maximizing efforts to take into account the views
of people living in poverty. CSO accountability mechanisms, however, face some practical
challenges on how to mea sure CSO’s efforts with grassroots communities, people living in poverty
and other affected populations. CSOs often work with varied partnerships and in country contexts
with vastly different policies and regulations, set by both donors and developing coun try
governments – disabling environments – that can affect the scope for robust CSO accountability.

The Istanbul Principles , as values -based principles guiding CSO accountability to development
effectiveness, are subject to interpretation. Appropriate obj ective standards for accountability to
these principles will be context specific and sometimes inherently difficult to determine and
monitor. This is particularly true for CSOs working in conflict and post -conflict situations.

Examples of CSO Initiatives in Accountability
and Transparency
 NGOs for Transparency and Accountability (Colombia)
to improve CSO transparency.
 The Accountability Charter (global) subscribed by the
largest international CSOs.
 NGO Aid Map (InterAction – USA) a web -based
mapping platform on CSO world -wide work in food
security worldwide and hum anitarian issues in Haiti.
 Code of Ethical Principles and Minimum Standards for
NGOs (Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC),
Self -certification system to improve governance of
CSOs in Cambodia.
The Open Forum’s “Implementation Toolkit” has further
exa mples and sources for CSO mechanisms for
accountability and transparency.

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CSO accountability mechan isms should focus not only on distinct measurable development
outcomes, but also on areas such as advocacy and mobilization for change, for which attribution for
outcomes is rarely simple.

CSO s are fully committed to maximum transparency as a necessary c riterion for accountability. But
CSOs must also address practical challenges in achieving full transparency , including timeliness,
cost, workload, privacy and protection of the rights of partners and vulnerable individuals .
Implementation of transparency standards must be sensitive to diverse institutional contexts for
CSOs – the scale of the organization, the need to improve organizational systems , training and
capacity strengthening for staff and volunteers, improved reporting and audit systems, or a need
for dedicated resources for monitoring and evaluation. For many medium and smaller CSOs,
associational processes (CSO networks, federations, confederations, etc.) may be indispensible tools
for responding through collective accountability mechanisms.

Strengthening CSO accountability mechanisms…

CSOs take seriously their obligation to be fully accountable as development actors to all their key
stakeholders in many different country contexts. Therefore, CSOs stress the fundamental
importance of vol untary accountability mechanisms, not government or CSO -imposed “policing
regulations”. Given the diversity of CSOs worldwide, it is only practical to have voluntary
mechanisms, which provide a framework to improve CSO practice, with a requisite flexibili ty to
safeguard CSO autonomy and independence.

Credible voluntary mechanisms, by their nature, need to evolve and be strengthened over time and
in response to changing circumstances. But an essential element is CSOs’ commitment to the
highest practical standards for mechanisms that demonstrate compliance and innovative ways to
assure credible compliance with multiple stakeholders.

Good practice in accountability mechanisms, guidance on improving CSO development practice, and
CSO dialogue at the country level through the Open Forum suggest some ways forward. The Open
Forum recommends some basic approaches to advance CSO efforts to s trengthen accountability
mechanisms:

1. The Istanbul Principles and the guidance in this Framework are the foundation for
accountability standards, but accountability mechanisms must also address broader
questions of organizational governance.
2. Voluntary mech anisms must be clear about who is accountable, to whom and for
what .
3. Voluntary self -regulatory accountability mechanisms and their context -specific
requirements are best developed with those whose work will be measured . Primary
stakeholders, where feasible , should be consulted. Accountability mechanisms should
promote organizational learning and measures to address challenges.

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4. Codes of conduct and accountability mechanisms should be accessible to, and
meaningful for , primary stakeholders. To be ful ly accounta ble to primary stakeholders,
communications must be clear, accessible, relevant and respectful of local context.
5. Flexibility and adaptability are essential for mechanisms to be realistically applied in
diverse and often -unpredictable conditions.
6. Mechanisms must model good practice and not impose principles and results
measurements on others that the CSO does not accept for itself .
7. Existing mechanisms and lessons learned should be utilized to strengthen
accountability at country levels, particularly through associations of CSOs. In
strengthening accountability mechanisms it is important to d emonstrate credible
compliance , avoid overlap, duplication, and high transaction costs .

SECTION IV: CRITICAL CONDITIONS FOR ENABLIN G CSO DEVELOPMENT
EFFECTIVENESS – GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PRACTICES

Preamble

While CSOs are independent and autonomous, they are not development actors working in
isolation. Their capacities to live up to principles for development effectiveness are affected by the
actio ns of other development actors.

CSOs, as development actors, are profoundly affected by the context in which they work. The
policies and practices of developing country governments and official donors affect and shape the
capacities of CSOs to engage i n development. Progress in realizing the Istanbul Principles in CSO
practice, therefore, depends in large measure on enabling government policies, laws and
regulations consistent with the Istanbul Principles .

At the 2008 Accra High Level Forum, all donors and
governments committed “to work with CSOs to provide
an enabling environment that maximizes thei r
contributions to development”. But since then, many
CSOs, North and South, have experienced deteriorating
enabling cond itions for their work. CSOs call on all
governments, including official donors, to review with
CSOs at country, regional and global levels, current
policies, regulations and practices affecting CSOs as
development actors. Respect for CSOs as development
actors requires an enabling environment that
guarantees the full participation of CSOs in all stages of
the development process, including the planning and
formulation of development plans and strategies.

An “enabling environment” and
“enabling standards ”
The “enabling environment” is the
political and policy context created by
governments, official donors and other
development actors that affect the ways
CSOs may carry out their work.
“Enabling standards ” are a set of inter –
related good practices by donors and
governments – in the legal, regulatory ,
fiscal, informational, political, and
cultural areas – that support the capacity
of CSO development actors to engage in
development processes in a sustained
and effective manner.

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Give priority to implementing an enabling enviro nment for CSO development effectiveness…

The enabling environment for development is complex. All development actors are affected by
persistent and multiple global and local economic, social and climatic crises as well as conflict
situations. Politica l conditions also matter. Space for CSO -initiated development activities has
narrowed, to varying degrees, in both developing and donor countries. For decades, CSOs have
been forging partnerships in order to maximize their impact. CSOs require environme nts in which
they are free to choose their partners based on mutually -agreed priorities.

The private sector is also an important actor affecting development. It is essential to strengthen
markets and provide decent work for people living in poverty, inclu ding informal sector workers.
CSOs, as development actors, are affected by the practices of private for -profit actors, particularly
where their activities undermine the promotion of sustainable livelihoods. Enabling conditions for
CSO effectiveness requir e an explicit commitment on the part of private sector actors to work
alongside other development actors through social dialogue and actions that lead to the realization
of internationally -agreed development goals and poverty reduction. Conventions and nor ms for
human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability and decent work must be respected.

The International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness establishes principles and relevant
guidance for CSOs to assess and work to improve their p ractices. CSOs have met with governments
and official donors to discuss, based on the Istanbul Principles , policies that might enable CSO
development activities to reach their full potential. Governments and multilateral organizations
committed to do so i n the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA ).

The Open Forum, therefore, welcomes and encourages further work by the multi -stakeholder Task
Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment and its Key Findings for the
Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (April 2011) as a positive contribution on which to
build and strengthen enabling conditions for CSOs.

The Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness deepen the application of the Paris
Principles on aid effectiveness …

The 2008 Accra Agenda for Action invited CSOs “ to reflect on how they can apply the Paris
principles of aid effectiveness from a CSO perspective ” [ AAA , § 20]. The Istanbul Principles for CSO
Development Effectiveness deepens multi -stakeholder understandin g and commitment to the Paris
Principles . The Istanbul Principles reflect, for CSOs, the centrality of broad -based, inclusive and
democratic ownership of development, which the AAA acknowledges as crucial to meeting the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Paris Declaration commitments.

The elaboration of the Istanbul Principles and the work of the Open Forum to seek out multi –
stakeholder dialogue signals a CSO resolve to expand and give priority to coordinated efforts on the
part of all stakeholders in a “shared commitment to overcome poverty” [AAA , § 20, § 32]. But, in the
absence of some basic minimum enab ling standards on the part of donors and governments, CSOs
will be thwarted in their implementation of the Istanbul Principles . All governments, as signatories
to the Paris Declaration and the AAA , should work in partnership with all development actors,

22
including CSOs, to create enabling environments that extend their commitments from aid to
development effectiveness.

An enabling environment for CSO development effectiveness

1. All governments must fulfill obligations to fundamental human rights that enable people
to organize and participate in development.

In almost all countries, CSOs, their staff and volunteers are experiencing political, financial and
institutional vulnerability, arising from the changing policies and restrictive practices of their
gove rnments. CSOs are concerned about the impact of these restrictive policies on democratic and
legal space for CSOs. This CSO vulnerability is exemplified in the use of pervasive anti -terrorism
legislation, more restrictive government financial and regulato ry regimes and the exercise of
government power to limit “political” activity and sometimes repress CSOs and their leaders, who
may be human rights defenders or critical of government policies. Some CSO actors, particularly
from Africa, are experiencing d ifficulties in getting timely access to visas for travel related to inter –
country CSO exchanges and regional and global coordination.

CSOs continue to organize and work with government and other stakeholders to strengthen and
contribute to democratic gove rnance and inclusive development activities. Democratic government
requires laws, regulations and practices that respect several fundamental principles or standards –
pre -conditions for a robust and effective civil society. 1 These include:
 Freedom of as sociation and assembly;
 Legal recognition facilitating the work of CSOs;
 The right to freedom of expression;
 Freedom of movement, mobility rights and the right to travel;
 The right to operate free of unwarranted state interference; and
 The legal space to seek and secure necessary resources in support of legitimate roles in
development.
Public authorities are required by international law to provide protection when the integrity of a
civil society organization or lives of its staff and members are threatene d.

CSOs welcome the 2010 resolution by the UN Human Rights Council on the right to peaceful
assembly and association. CSOs urge full cooperation by all governments with the UN Rapporteur
designated to monitor these rights.

1 The organization and presentation of t hese principles is derived from “International Principles Protecting Civil Society”,
in Defending Civil Society , A Report of the World Movement of Democracy, February 2008, accessed at
www.wmd.org/projects/defending -civil -society . These rights are guaranteed under the UN International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other multilateral and regional treaties.

23
2. Areas of focus for Partner Governments and Official Donors

a) Recognizing CSOs as development actors in their own right

The AAA recognition of CSOs as development actors in their own right [§ 20] was a significant
advancement in situating the distinct contributions of CSOs to development. CSOs’ roots in society,
and notably with people living in poverty and discriminated populations, make CSOs essential
actors for development. The diverse roles of CSOs in complementary provision of services, in social
organization and in coalescing civic involvement in all aspects of the development process must be
enhanced not curtailed. All governments must affirm and ensure the full participation of CSOs as
independent development actors in their own right and differentiate them from other actors , such
as the private sector.

b) Structuring democratic political and policy dialogue to improve development
effectiveness

Governments in both developing and donor countries must provide the conditions for inclusive and
meaningful participation of CSOs in political and policy dialogue at all levels of development. CSOs
are promoters and generators of development knowledge. I n particular, they bring the experiences
and voices of men and women, girls and boys living in poverty and the marginalized to policy and
priority -setting processes. All actors should work in partnership to strengthen capacities for
democratic dialogue to build mutual understanding, trust and common knowledge.

CSOs, in the Open Forum processes, have documented significant barriers to inclusive political and
policy dialogue – barriers that must be addressed. Building on good practice, CSOs have identifie d
key conditions for reversing these trends:
1. Systematic inclusion of diverse views, particularly those from grassroots -based social
organizations, women’s organizations and indigenous peoples’ representatives;
2. Transparency and clarity of purpose and pro cess;
3. Freedom to access information, including country strategies and program plans;
4. Access to documentation in the languages of those being consulted;
5. Timeliness of consultations in order to impact decisions;
6. Recognition of the responsibilities and co ntributions of other actors, especially
parliamentarians and local government; and
7. Appropriate resources to enable full participation of stakeholders.
Governments and donors should ensure that local CSOs are fully consulted in the planning, design
and d elivery of country -specific development programs.

c) Being accountable for transparent and consistent policies for development.

Governments must put into practice principles of good governance, which include full transparency
and accountability for developm ent priorities, strategies, plans and actions. In their role as
“watchdog”, CSOs can ensure public resources are used to maximize impact on poverty and
equitable growth. Similarly, official donors should put in place transparent and consistent policies

24
that define the place and role of CSOs in donor strategic frameworks and plans, including country –
level program implementation plans.

d) Creating enabling financing for CSO development effectiveness

The donor relationship is, by definition, a relationship rooted in access to development finance for
CSOs. The practices of CSOs as donors face many similar issues as official donors in establishing
equitable partnerships. But CSOs are also affected, and sometimes limited, by official donor funding
modalities and policies. CSO development effectiveness will be enabled through funding modalities
undertaken by official donors with 1) a long -term results -oriented perspective, which includes core
institutional support, based on the notion that CSOs provide public goods, 2) responsiveness to CSO
initiatives, 3) access for a diversity of CSOs, including support for different -sized CSOs, 4)
predictable, transparent, easily understandable and harmonized terms, 5) the view to promoting
the mobilization of local resource s; and 6) support for the full range of CSO programming and
innovation, including policy development and advocacy.

A vibrant civil society, which advocates for marginalized populations, is a public good.
Governments should acknowledge this important role by providing fiscal support through taxation
and other mechanisms in order to ensure the continuing operation and sustainability of civil society
actors.

Making progress in standards that shape the CSO enabling environment …

The inclusive multi -stakeh older character of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness has provided a
unique opportunity in which to document evidence and pursue dialogue on CSO enabling
conditions. The Open Forum welcomes the work of the multi -stakeholder Task Team on CSO
Developmen t Effectiveness and Enabling Environment and its March 2011 agreement on Key
Messages for the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness as a positive and substantial
contribution to strengthening enabling standards for CSOs.

The multi -stakeholder Tas k Team has advanced important standards in five key areas: 1)
recognizing CSOs as independent development actors in their own right, 2) creating enabling
environments for CSOs based on human rights standards, 3) deepening donors’ CSO support
models, 4) str engthening CSO development effectiveness, and 5) assuring accountability and
transparency – with shared recommendations, which are consistent with CSOs’ commitment to
advance the Istanbul Principles (see Annex Three for selected key messages from the Task Team).

The full implementation of the five principles of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for
Action already provide obligations for government signatories to create an effective enabling
environment for CSOs. The CSO Open Forum on CSO Develo pment Effectiveness calls on all
signatories to the Paris Declaration to fully adhere to those obligations. This Framework can be the
basis for ongoing multi -stakeholder dialogue at the country, regional and global levels, resulting in
laws, regulations, policies and practices that fully enable CSOs as development actors.

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SECTION V: WAYS FORWARD

The Open Forum has undertaken an extra -ordinary global CSO journey of self -reflection about the
identity, roles, and principles for CSOs as effective development actors. The result is a global CSO
agreement, the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness , adopted fully by
240 CSO representatives from 7 0 countries in Siem Reap , Cambodia. Along with accompanying
“Implementation Toolkit ”, the Framework provides the needed tools for CSOs, wherever they work,
to be responsive to their constituencies and socie ty at large and to create a more equitable and
better world.

All actors for development – CSOs, government and donors – are inter -dependent and must
collaborate to effectively realize development outcomes for people living in poverty and
marginalized po pulations. They have a shared interest in a dynamic CSO sector.

For their part, CSOs are coming to the 4 th High Level Forum in Busan, Korea, (HLF -4) with a firm
commitment to strengthen and improve the sector as an actor in development, guided by the
Istanbul Principles . CSOs call on all governments involved in HLF -4 to acknowledge the Open Forum
process and endorse the Istanbul Principles as an essential basis for policies of engagement and
support of civil society in development.

CSOs pledge to cont inue discussions in the months after HLF -4 towards implementation and
monitoring of the Istanbul Principles . These discussions will take place at many levels – in country –
level and sectoral meetings, in CSO organizational discussions of their development practice, in self –
assessments and peer reviews, and in dialogue with other development stakeholders, including
organizations directly representing people living in poverty.

All development actors must make vigorous efforts to strengthen their accountability to
internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, in line with international human
rights standards. There is no exception for CSOs, who acknowledge their responsibility to improve
their development practices. As such, CSOs will measure and improve mechanisms for
accountability against experience and best practices, while respecting the country -specific
application of the Istanbul Principles for Development Effectiveness , as well as CSO independence
and autonomy as development actors.

CSOs seek and welcome engagement with developing country governments, official donors and
multilateral institutions in advancing CSO development effectiveness principles and meeting the
challenges in their implementation. The Open Forum welcomes the proposal from the Task Team
on CSO Development Effectiveness to continue dialogue at the senior level up to and beyond HLF -4,
as all stakeholders make collective and individual institutional efforts to address outstanding CSO
development effe ctiveness issues.

All development actors must continue to work together to advance human rights, gender equality
and social justice through reforms in development cooperation. This International Framework for
CSO Development Effectiveness , with its pri nciples, norms and guidance, is a significant CSO
contribution to these reforms.

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ANNEX ONE: ISTANBUL PRINCIPLES FOR CSO DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVENESS 1

Civil society organizations are a vibrant and essential feature in the democratic life of countries
across the globe. CSOs collaborate with the full diversity of people and promote their rights. The
essential characteristics of CSOs as distinct development actors – that they are voluntary, diverse,
non -partisan, autonomous, non -violent, working and collaborati ng for change – are the foundation
for the Istanbul principles for CSO Development Effectiveness . These principles guide the work and
practices of civil society organizations in both peaceful and conflict situations, in different areas of
work from grassro ots to policy advocacy, and in a continuum from humanitarian emergencies to
long -term development.

1. Respect and promote human rights and social justice
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … develop and implement strategies,
activities a nd practices that promote individual and collective human rights, including the right to
development, with dignity, decent work, social justice and equity for all people.

2. Embody gender equality and equity while promoting women and girl’s rights
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … promote and practice development
cooperation embodying gender equity, reflecting women’s concerns and experience, while
supporting women’s efforts to realize their individual and collective rights, participa ting as fully
empowered actors in the development process.

3. Focus on people’s empowerment, democratic ownership and participation
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … support the empowerment and inclusive
participation of people to expand their democratic ownership over policies and development
initiatives that affect their lives, with an emphasis on the poor and marginalized.

4. Promote Environmental Sustainability
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … develop and implement priorities and
approaches that promote environmental sustainability for present and future generations,
including urgent responses to climate crises, with specific attention to the socio -economic, cultural
and indigenous conditions for ecological integrity and justice.

5. Practice transparency and accountability
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … demonstrate a sustained organizational
commitment to transparency, multiple accountability, and integrity in their internal operations.

6. Pursue equitable partnerships and solidarity
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … commit to transparent relationships with
CSOs and other development actors, freely and as equals, based on shared development goals and

1 Please note , the Istanbul Principles, as agreed at the Open Forum’s Global Assembly in Istanbul, September
28 -30, 2010, are the foundation of the Open Forum’s Draft International Framework on CSO Development
Effectiveness . These principles are further elaborated in Version 2 of this Framework , which can be found on
the Open Forum’s web site, www.cso -effectiveness.org.

27
values, mutual respect, trust, organizational autonomy, long -term accompaniment, solidarity and
global citizenship.

7. Create and share knowledge and commit to mutual learning
CSOs are effective as development actors when they … enhance the ways they learn from their
experience, from other CSOs and development actors, integrating evidence from development
practice and re sults, including the knowledge and wisdom of local and indigenous communities,
strengthening innovation and their vision for the future they would like to see.

8. Commit to realizing positive sustainable change
CSOs are effective as development actors w hen they … collaborate to realize sustainable
outcomes and impacts of their development actions, focusing on results and conditions for lasting
change for people, with special emphasis on poor and marginalized populations, ensuring an
enduring legacy for p resent and future generations.

Guided by these Istanbul Principles , CSOs are committed to take pro -active actions to improve and
be fully accountable for their development practices. Equally important will be enabling policies
and practices by all actors . Through actions consistent with these principles, donor and partner
country governments demonstrate their Accra Agenda for Action pledge that they “share an
interest in ensuring that CSO contributions to development reach their full potential”. All
gover nments have an obligation to uphold basic human rights – among others, the right to
association, the right to assembly, and the freedom of expression. Together these are pre -conditions
for effective development.

Istanbul, Turkey
September 29, 2010

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ANNEX TWO: CSO ROLES IN DEVELOPMENT

People come together to create CSOs as not -for -profit voluntary expressions of peoples’ right to
development through voluntary association. They are channels for social solidarity , service and
mobilization to enable peo ple to better claim all their rights to improve conditions of life and to
build a democratic society. Through CSOs, people actively express their ‘citizenship’ in relation to
the accountability of state and government obligations to respe ct, protect and f ulfill human rights.

Alone and in collaboration with CSOs and other actors , CSOs act in development to …
a) Direct engagement and support for communities, poor and marginalized groups in self –
help and local development innovation.
b) Delivery of basic services and essential infrastructures at local level, particularly in social
services such as health protection and care, education, water and sanitation , while empowering
communities to seek fulfillment of their right to these services from government .
c) Empower marginalized grassroots communities and people living in poverty,
particularly women , to claim their rights, through inclusive capacity strengthening and
promoting social mobilization and peoples’ voices in democratizing local and national
development and participation in public policy.
d) Engage communities, civil society, the private sector, local government authorities and
other development actors to collaborate and seek synergies based on mutually agreed
development priorities and approaches .
e) Enrich the pu blic policy agenda with CSO knowledge, issues, perspectives and proposals
which r espect and are informed by spiritual virtues embedded in cultural values, including
indigenous peoples’ rights and their notions of “vivir bien” (“living well”) .
f) Monitor gover nment and donor policies and development practices , through policy
research and development, policy dialogue and facilitating democratic accountability for
excluded and marginalized populations, based on local knowledge.
g) Educate and help shape social value s of democracy, solidarity and social justice through
production of knowledge, sharing information and encouraging peoples’ action for global
citizenship .
h) Encourage domestic and international volunteering engagement , whether in the creation
and support of CSOs and/or contributing in the ongoing organizational life and mission of CSOs.
i) Find and leverage sources of financing and human resources for development , including
sustaining domestic and local sources of finance in developing countries, directly as CSO
recipients or as donor channels at local, national and international level.
j) Connect and network CSOs within and between civil societies in ways that encourages
accountability to people for positive impacts on the rights and lives of target populations.

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ANNEX THREE: SELECTED KEY MESSAGE S, TASK TEAM ON CSO DEVELOPMENT
EFFECTIVENESS AND EN ABLING ENVIRONMENT

Among its seventeen messages, the Task Team calls on all development stakeholders to

1) Reaffirm CSOs as independent development actors in their own right and the importance of
multi -stakeholder policy dialogue.
2) Commit to and promote an enabling environment for CSOs as independent development actors,
both in law and in practice, at minimum in keeping with existing commitments in international
and regional i nstruments that guarantee fundamental rights.
3) Assure that the Paris Declaration principles, including ownership and alignment, are not in any
way interpreted or applied to narrow the enabling environment for CSOs.
4) Implement donor models of support that can contribute to CSO effectiveness … through policies
and requirements that are appropriate to promote CSO roles as effective, independent
development actors in their own right.
5) Acknowledge existing efforts and progress in demonstrating CSOs’ accountabilit y … [while] CSOs recognize the need for continued progress and commit to actively strengthen the
application of self -managed accountability and transparency mechanisms and standards.
6) Encourage context -specific adoption and application of principles of ai d and development
effectiveness, including the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness, accompanying
guidelines and indicators, and CSOs’ own ongoing efforts to implement and monitor these self –
regulating standards and tools.
7) Recognize that a ll development actors have a responsibility to be accountable for their aid and
development efforts, and share responsibility to promote each others’ accountability.
8) Encourage efforts by all stakeholders to increase transparency … in keeping with their
respective access to information regulations, the scale of resources and agreement on
modalities that do not jeopardize the continued operations, safety and security of CSOs or
individuals associated with them.

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