The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations.



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13 تشرين الأول (أكتوبر) 2008

Civil Society Observer August/September 2008


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NGLS Civil Society Observer

Volume 5, Issue 4

August/September 2008

- Special Section: UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs and the UN High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals
- Special Section: Aid Effectiveness and Financing for Development
- In the press
- CSOs and the Multilateral System
- Research and Analysis

Special Section: UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs and the UN High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - part of the international development agenda of the United Nations - were under intense scrutiny during the first week of the 63rd UN General Assembly. World leaders, diplomats, NGOs, representatives of the private sector and media gathered in New York to discuss the Goals, both in the annual General Debate and in several related events.

Concerned by the deepening effects of the global food crisis and climate change on Africa’s ability to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, world leaders attending a High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on 22 September recommitted themselves to strengthening a “global partnership of equals”, based on shared responsibility and renewed determination to mobilize resources. They adopted a political declaration on “Africa’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward.”

In parallel with the High-level Meeting, NGLS co-organized an event titled ‘A Response to the World Food Crisis: Smallholder Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development in Africa’. Keynote speakers demanded the attention of donors and addressed the current global risks related to the food crisis.

On 25 September, the High-level Event on the MDGs focused more broadly on the progress of the MDGs. The Event saw world leaders, among them representatives of civil society, recommit themselves to the achievement of the MDGs by 2015. Indeed, the gathering generated an estimated $16 billion for the MDGs, including some $1.6 billion to bolster food security, more than $4.5 billion for education and $3 billion to combat malaria.

Throughout the week a wide range of parallel events related to the MDGs were also held, including the launch of the Global Malaria Action Plan, the launch of the ‘In My Name’ campaign and ‘poverty hearings’ with individuals living in poverty.

The MDG Event generated ample discussion in the media and in civil society at large. Some of these articles and commentaries are listed below in our special section dedicated to the MDGs.

For more information, please visit the NGLS website on:
-  The HLM on Africa
-  The HLE on the MDGs

Achieving the MDGs: The fundamentals

Overseas Development Institute (ODI), September 2008, Andrew Shepherd

This briefing paper written by Andrew Shepherd emphasizes the fundamentals of development: gender equality, political stability and sustained economic growth. Besides these fundamentals, it is essential to focus on the most vulnerable and excluded, including fragile States, the paper suggests.

All out on poverty

The Guardian, 24 September 2008

The Guardian reviews the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in an extensive series of articles, created in cooperation with the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK. In this series, journalists, activists and development aid experts explore the possibilities and challenges related to the MDGs. The articles offer in-depth coverage on the different goals through case studies around the world.

The Implications of High Food and Energy Prices for Economic Management: Perspectives from Civil Society in the Commonwealth

Commonwealth Foundation, 8 October 2008

Financial Ministers of the Commonwealth met with civil society representatives in Saint Lucia on 6 October 2008. At the meeting, Commonwealth civil society groups expressed their fear that due to the present food and energy crises, governments are likely to contribute less to development needs and consequently delay meeting the MDGs. To downloaded the report of the meeting please click here.

Millennium Development Goals at Midpoint: Where do we stand and where do we need to go?

European Report on Development, 19 September 2008

The EU launched its own report on the progress of the MDGs shortly after the release of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals Report 2008. In addition to the full report (PDF, 39 pages), executive summaries in all official languages of the EU are available on the European Commission website. The paper suggests that policy coherence, delivering the promised aid volumes, the role of the developing countries themselves, special focus on fragile States and the social protection of the most vulnerable people are key strategies for achieving the MDGs.

Millennium Development Goals: Enhance Public Policy with Private Donors

The Brookings Institution, 25 September 2008, Raj M. Desai and Joshua Hermias

Rising commodity prices, and increasing trends in donors not meeting their targets, have led many to believe that the MDGs may not be met by target year 2015. In view of this, the authors of this article discuss the need for a development public policy making process to more fully embrace private donors such as international and domestic philanthropies, responsible for a growing proportion of developmental aid.

Oxfam condemns lethargic reaction to global food crisis - Billions of vital funds missing

Oxfam International, 24 September 2008

According to Oxfam, only a fraction of the funds that governments have promised to combat the world food crisis have been disbursed. This press release by Oxfam International criticizes this disparity.

Poverty hearings show people behind the numbers

Inter Press Service, 26 September 2008, Mirela Xanthaki

A coalition of civil society groups called the Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP) organized poverty hearings as part of the 50 days of global action campaign. “A day of voices” side-event at the UN presented a diverse group of ordinary people from three continents sharing their reality of the yet un-achieved Millennium Development Goals. This article provides an overview of the event, including comments from several civil society activists.

Participatory Governance and the Millennium Development Goals

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, October 2008

This publication (PDF, 203 pages) is an output of the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Engaged Governance: Citizen Participation in the Development Goals, held in New York in November 2006. The report, which discusses the role of NGOs and other stakeholders, warns about the pitfalls of participatory development and recommends the recognition of contextual and local perspective instead of one-size-fits-all approaches.

Special Section: Aid Effectiveness and Financing for Development

The Accra High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, organised by the OECD and the World Bank and hosted by the government of Ghana (2 - 4 September, 2008), saw ministers from over 100 countries, heads of bilateral donor organizations, multilateral development agencies, and civil society organizations review the progress made against the Paris Declaration (March 2005) and committed to further actions for improvements in international aid delivery. At the conclusion of the three-day Forum, governments adopted the Accra Agenda for Action.

It is expected that the results of the Accra meeting will feed into the discussions taking place at the International Follow-up Conference on Financing for Development in Doha later this year (29 November - 2 December). The Conference will, among other things, review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus which was adopted by Member States of the United Nations at the International Conference on Financing for Development in 2002. For more information, click here.

Please find below several resources and discussions on these significant developments in aid and financing for development.

Statement of Reality of Aid (ROA) at the Conclusion of the 3rd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

Reality of Aid, 5 September 2008

The Reality of Aid network expressed its disappointment that civil society’s views and recommendations were largely ignored in the final version of the Accra Agenda for Action

Accra aid forum falls short, closing without firm anti-corruption commitments

Transparency International (TI), 5 September 2008

The Accra High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in September 2008 addressed the issue of corruption and aid transparency in development cooperation. This press release by Transparency International points out the lack of concrete commitments in the Accra Agenda for Action, such as a schedule for achieving greater accountability.

International Aid: Charity or Justice? Reflections on the Accra Aid Effectiveness Conference

e-Civicus 406, 12 September 2008, Kumi Naidoo

Kumi Naidoo, the Honorary President of CIVICUS, presents his view on the nature of development aid and on the impact that civil society made on the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) in September. He argues that although the result of the AAA was not wholly satisfactory to many CSOs, it confirmed the importance of global public opinion and the difference it can make on government decisions.

Accra as we see it from the South: Letter to African Ministers

AFRODAD , Vitalice Meja (Program Director - Lobby & Advocacy)

The author calls upon developing world governments to “move beyond the current Accra Agenda for Action document” and initiate a debate on how to reduce the amount of debt created through the prevailing system of official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries. He argues that it is essential to recognize the debt creating nature of ODA, and provide ways to control this through greater policy space, lesser conditionality, and greater participation by CSOs in bringing accountability and transparency to the system.

Civil society and aid - where now?

INTRAC, September 2008, ONTRAC Newsletter No. 40

The latest newsletter of the International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) looks at how the aid industry can better support civil society. Articles consider the issue in the cases of the Middle East, fragile States and less publicized civil society actors working at the margins. An interview with the new Permanent Secretary of DFID examines the roles that civil society organizations play and how these are likely to change in the future. The newsletter argues that better support requires new approaches which place local people at the center of development policy.

Can Aid Be Effective Without Civil Society: The Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action and beyond

International Council on Social Welfare, August 2008, Aurora Steinle and Denys Correll

This paper debates aid effectiveness and the role of civil society in development. It includes summaries of events that are important for understanding the dialogue surrounding the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA). While acknowledging the AAA to be the positive outcome of CSO criticism of the Paris Declaration, this paper explores the possibility for greater effectiveness of CSOs through improving coordination and actions within civil society.

Reforming Aid and Development Cooperation: Accra, Doha and beyond

The North-South Institute, August 2008, Stephen Brown and Bill Morton

This policy note (PDF, 8 pages) concentrates on the future of development aid and the changes “new” development actors, such as China, India and Brazil, have brought about. The authors discuss several recent developments, including the newly created UN Development Cooperation Forum (UNDCF), the outcomes of the Accra HLF and the upcoming Financing for Development Review Conference in Doha.

Civil Society Key Recommendations for the Doha Draft Outcome Document

Various civil society organizations, 30 August 2008

On thie webpage, various contributions of stakeholders in the Financing for Development process have been collected, including several from civil society organisations on the Doha Draft Outcome Document.

Breaking the Taboo: Perspectives of African Civil Society on Innovative Sources of Financing Development

Commonwealth Foundation, July 2008

Representatives of civil society organizations from Africa, Europe and Canada met in Dakar, Senegal in April 2008 to discuss innovative development financing mechanisms and the achievement of the MDGs. This report by the Commonwealth Foundation, Breaking the Taboo (PDF, 60 pages), gives an account of the views and issues debated in the meeting, including financing mechanisms such as the currency transaction tax (CTT) and the carbon tax. As an annex, the report has background information and contact details for the participating CSOs and co-sponsoring organizations.

In the press

We can no longer afford to fund the corrupt

The Times, 26 September 2008, Camilla Cavendish

In this column the author criticizes the aid industry, specifically the relationship between donors and development countries. According to Cavendish, the Western aid community should push harder for good governance in the recipient countries before cooperating with them, except in the case of humanitarian aid. She believes that the main key for eradicating poverty is to create more jobs and to simplify business legislation.

Dignity and hope: too much to ask for?

The Observer, 21 September 2008, Nick Fraser

The Declaration of Human Rights celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, but despite treaties and laws, human rights are constantly breached. This article captures the frustration and the constant fight of human rights activists today. The article spans from drafting the declaration through the birth of Amnesty International in the 1960s until the grave human rights violations of recent years.

CSOs and the Multilateral System

Final Report of the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy: A Case for Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation

Helsinki Process, 3 October 2008

The final report of the Helsinki Process was recently launched in New York when the Presidents of Tanzania and Finland formally presented it to the UN Secretary-General. The Helsinki Process aims at more democratic global governance and a multi-stakeholder dialogue which comprises civil society actors. The report (PDF, 43 pages) includes commitments for future action and an assessment of the lessons learned since the beginning of the process in 2003.

New Global Contract: Promoting Human Rights and the Environment in Trade and Finance Rules

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), 6 August 2008, Maria Julia Oliva

Civil society is still largely excluded from the decision-making in multilateral trade and finance negotiations. However, some NGOs have succeeded in persuading governments to conform trade and investment rules to social and environmental obligations, especially human rights. This paper (PDF, 41 pages) by Maria Julia Oliva includes case studies of some success stories. It concentrates on specific legal and policy approaches which help civil society to promote social and environmental concerns.

Responding to the Global Food Crisis: Three perspectives

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), September 2008

Three essays by Namanga Ngongi (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), Josette Sheeran (World Food Programme, WFP) and Joachim von Braun (IFPRI) reflect on the policies of the international development community to the global food crisis. The impacts of different responses should be analyzed before taking actions in order to avoid misguided policies. However, the authors point out that the discussion on the current crisis may also lead to opportunities and to improved food security in the future.

Research and Analysis

A New Era of World Hunger? - The Global Food Crisis Analyzed

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Global Policy Forum, July 2008, James A. Paul and Katarina Wahlberg

Based on the salient points issues brought up at the international conference organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Global Policy Forum (New York, April 2008), this paper discusses the right to food and the role of the United Nations in responding to the global food crisis. Debating the cause and response to the crisis the paper advocates effective aid for the short-term and an equitable, resilient, and sustainable agricultural system for the long-term.

Living on the Edge of Emergency: Paying the Price of Inaction

CARE International, September 2008, Amber Meikle and Vanessa Rubin

CARE International points out the failures of the development aid system, forcing millions of people to live in poverty and on the edge of emergency. Their report (PDF, 16 pages) calls on the international community to give higher priority to recovery and prevention programmes like seed distribution and improved veterinary services. They also present three crucial steps to combat the new global challenges: more, better and timely aid delivered without gaps or duplications.

Transparency International 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index

Transparency International (TI), 23 September 2008

Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) draws on various expert and business surveys and measures the perceived levels of public-sector corruption in a given country. The CPI scores 180 countries on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to ten (highly clean). Corruption has a great impact on poverty: according to TI, unchecked levels of corruption would add US $50 billion to the cost of achieving the MDG on water and sanitation. To downloaded the CPI table please click here.

UN counter-terrorism review should make human rights a priority

Amnesty International, 4 September 2008

The United Nations adopted the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy at the General Assembly in September 2006. This fall the Strategy will be reviewed in the plenary session of the General Assembly. For the occasion, and for the 60th anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration, Amnesty International has published a report titled “Security and Human Rights: Counter-Terrorism and the United Nations” (PDF, 54 pages). The report notes the huge gap between the rhetoric in the Global Strategy and the reality of human rights observance on the ground.

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