Development effectiveness

VOICE has been working on aid and development effectiveness since 2005. It’s been actively engaged in OECD’s DAC process being the member of BetterAid Coordination Group and Reality of Aid Network. 
VOICE organizes meetings, seminars, dialogues, workshops, press conferences and conducts studies on development effectiveness. It attends all major international programmes including High Level Forum in Accra, Busan and presents its activities to the global audiences.
VOICE completed projects with the support of Christian Aid UK, Reality of Aid Network and CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness  (CPDE). It contributes to the Reality of Aid Report  and writes articles in newspapers. 
VOICE is the secretariat of Aid Accountability Group (AAG), a group of civil society organizations working on aid and development Cooperation. 


Drafting a Bangladesh Country Compact: A Way of Building Consensus

Development effectiveness is comparatively new idea among civil society members, in particular, in Bangladesh. Based on the discussion on development effectiveness and CSOs enabling environment held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2018 and 2019, organized by VOICE and supported by CPDE, one of important outcomes is that it requires time, efforts and commitment of development stakeholders to come to a consensus for a Country Compact. Though Government of Bangladesh is in the leadership role in GPPEDC, however, ensuring the effective implementation of development initiatives and projects based on human rights standards and norms are huge challenges. Government has been undertaking hundreds of development projects in last few years; however, there is no specific guideline is yet to be developed while it is very important in need to monitoring and review . Even the civil society organizations (CSOs), who are aware of Istanbul principles and Busan compact developed any to maintain accountability standards though CSOs are committed to develop development effectiveness standards based on Istanbul principles 2010. However, the CSOs meetings and discussions urged building their capacities not only with the Dhaka based NGOs also to the diverse groups of NGOs/CSOs/CBOs who are working at the grassroots with marginalized communities, such as, ethnic minorities, fisher folk and disabilities communities. The CSOs also demanded holding workshops, discussion with inclusiveness approach countrywide, not on a piece-mail basis. This is to develop capacities of CSOs so that they can come out with comprehensive guideline/ Compact to monitor progress on the implementation of the Istanbul Principles, as well as development projects and SDGs. However, there are lots of challenges both outside and inside. Such as, there is hardly any space for the CSOs in the country in regard to freedom of expression, justice and human rights issues. Criminalizing freedom of speech, restrictive policieies and laws, harassment, surveillance, forced disappearance, extra judicial killings etc, are major challenges to create enabling environment ore development effectiveness. While civic space has been continuously much shrinking and government has been put restrictions in many ways, therefore, in-built challenges are the major hindrances for the full realization of the Principles, including at the national and local levels, both in regard to creating space for enabling environment and development effectiveness consistent with international human rights standards.

However, CSOs are committed to come together building inclusiveness, democratic space, confidence and solidarity in order to develop country compact so that they can review and monitor their own progress and also development projects specific indicators based on human rights standards. Bangladesh Government though is playing important role in GPEDC, however, the specific department, can do a little in the country though Government, including development partners is committed to fulfill effective development cooperation.

CSOs discussed details both at group works, plenary sessions, small meetings, key interviews with development partners, INGOs and academicians on the Principles, enabling environment and development effectiveness; it came out to develop process and methodology to exercise for a Country Compact which will an agreement of multi-stakeholders of development.
Therefore, there are initially agreements among CSOs to come out a short work plan to complete in 2019 and then go for a detailed plan for the Compact. To mention,
i. Need to increase understanding on effective development cooperation to further contribute to,
ii. Need to mapping the country challenges and advocacy to remind gov. and DPs to help creating more space for enabling environment,
iii. Need to mapping the commitments of government and DPs and advocacy to remind them for the realization of their commitments.
Not the least, but these three points will be the guiding principles for developing the country compact as CSOs come to an agreement.
However, finance and resources remain a major challenge, but CSOs hope that CPDE can play a key role promoting and supporting this.

An initial short term work plan developed is in below:
i. strengthening CSOs capacity building including outreach engaging diverse group of CSOs;
ii. to do monitoring and review/ research of some projects funded by IFIs, INGOs, governments etc, including public private partnership projects to learn and share and come out with outputs to contribute to the Compact;
iv.) to engage media for investigating reporting on development effectiveness, enabling environment and use the outcome in the Compact;
v) to engage stakeholders including government, DPs to advocate for creating enabling environment which is now very challenging one;
vi.) to ensure CSOs accountability based on Istanbul principles and international human rights standard.  

This is developed based on discussions in CSO Forum, small group meetings, key stakeholders interviews etc, with policy makers, academicians, CSOs and development partners and considered as outputs of the project supported by CPDE.

To read more, please click this pdf file below

"Challenges for Democratic ownership and Development Effectiveness"
"Redefining partnership: The Need for a holistic approach for effective development partnership in Bangladesh"
" The Reality of Aid 2016"
DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance


HAVING REGARD to the Recommendation of the Council on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development [OECD/LEGAL/0381]; the Recommendation of the Council for Development Co-operation Actors on Managing the Risk of Corruption [OECD/LEGAL/0431]; the Recommendation of the Council on Open Government [OECD/LEGAL/0438]; the DAC Recommendation on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus [OECD/LEGAL/5019]; and, the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance: Key Pillars of Prevention and Response [OECD/LEGAL/5020];

HAVING REGARD to the Framework for Dialogue between the DAC and Civil Society Organisations [DCD/DAC(2018)28/FINAL];

HAVING REGARD to the foundation provided by international standards and documents on various aspects of enabling civil society, notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 217 A]; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI)]; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI)]; the Declaration on the Right to Development [General Assembly Resolution 41/128]; the Humanitarian Principles; the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [UNGA Resolution A/RES/53/144]; the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise [CO87]; Convention on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining [CO98]; Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work [2019]; core international human rights treaties protecting and promoting the rights of individuals and groups that civil society actors serve or represent, such as women, children, persons with disabilities, racialized groups, migrants and Indigenous Peoples; the UN Human Rights Council Resolutions on Civil society space: creating and maintaining, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment [A/HRC/RES/24/21] and Civil society space: engagement with international and regional organisations [A/HRC/RES/38/12]; and, relevant regional human rights standards;

HAVING REGARD to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals [UNGA Resolution A/RES/70/1] (hereafter the “2030 Agenda”); the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation effectiveness principles Indicator 2: Enabling environments for civil society, and outcome documents endorsed in 2016 in Nairobi, in 2014 in Mexico, in 2011 in Busan, in 2008 in Accra and in 2005 in Paris; the DAC Guidelines for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development Co-operation (1999); the Good Humanitarian Donorship Principles (2003); the New Way of Working (2017); the Grand Bargain (2016); the Financial Action Task Force Best Practices on Combating the Abuse of Non-profit Organizations (Recommendation 8); and CSO standards including the 2010 Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness and the Global Standard for CSO Accountability;

RECOGNISING civil society actors are independent development and humanitarian actors in their own right as well as development co-operation and humanitarian assistance providers’ (hereafter “providers”) implementing partners;

RECOGNISING civil society actors, in their diversity, are critical contributors to the 2030 Agenda, the pledge to leave no one behind, inclusive sustainable development, effective humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding, and protecting and strengthening democracy;

RECOGNISING that civil society’s ability to exercise the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression, in-person and online, is in jeopardy in many places and closing civic space is part of a broader concern of diminishing respect for human rights, democracy, and international humanitarian law, in a context of rising autocratisation that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic;

RECOGNISING that the rise of undemocratic actors and actions undermines fundamental freedoms and human rights and diminishes the enabling environment for civil society;

RECOGNISING that closing civic space poses real danger to civil society actors in many countries, increases the vulnerability of civil society, and affects the quality and effectiveness of development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding;

RECOGNISING that providers’ support and engagement with civil society should be tailored to respect civil society actors’ diverse range of constituents, including to people on the frontlines of poverty, inequality, conflict, vulnerability and marginalisation in partner countries or territories, in order to strengthen local ownership and sustainability;

RECOGNISING different partner country or territory contexts, the potential positive or negative impacts of providers’ approaches on the civil society sector and civic space, and the need for providers to do no harm;

RECOGNISING that the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of civil society actors enables civil society to maximise its contribution, can bolster perceptions of civil society’s legitimacy and, in turn, provide a counterweight to inappropriate civic space restrictions;

RECOGNISING that providers’ policies and practices related to how they respect, protect and promote civic space, support and engage with civil society, and incentivise CSO effectiveness, transparency and accountability, are interlinked and all contribute to an enabling environment for civil society, with efforts to address any one of them potentially affecting the others;

RECOGNISING that DAC members and non-DAC members having adhered to this DAC Recommendation (hereafter the “Adherents”) have differing legal, institutional, and policy frameworks and domestic contexts relevant to their roles in development co-operation and humanitarian assistance that may shape their implementation of this DAC Recommendation.

I.AGREES that for the purpose of the present DAC Recommendation, the following definitions are used:

  • Civil societyrefers to uncoerced human association or interaction by which individuals implement individual or collective action to address shared needs, ideas, interests, values, faith, and beliefs that they have identified in common, as well as the formal, semi- or non-formal forms of associations and the individuals involved in them. Civil society is distinct from states, private for profit enterprises, and the family.
  • Civil society organisations(CSOs)are an organisational representation of civil society and include all not-for-profit, non-state, non-partisan, non-violent, and self-governing organisations outside of the family in which people come together to pursue shared needs, ideas, interests, values, faith and beliefs, including formal, legally registered organisations as well as informal associations without legal status but with a structure and activities.
  • Civic spaceis the physical, virtual, legal, regulatory, and policy space where people can, among other things, securely exercise their rights to the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and expression, in keeping with human rights.


II.RECOMMENDS that Adherents, when acting in their roles as development co-operation and humanitarian assistance providers, respect, protect and promote civic space and to such end:

1.Develop clear policy positions on the value of an inclusive and independent civil society and on the importance of respecting, protecting, and promoting civic space in line with rights to the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and expression.

2.Seek to engage in dialogue with partner country or territory governments and raise public awareness on the value of an inclusive and independent civil society and civil society participation and on respecting, protecting, and promoting civic space.

3.Co-ordinate among providers and with international, regional and national bodies to monitor openings and restrictions of civic space, enhance access to and sharing of information, and foster stronger, more coherent proactive and preventive actions.

4.Take reasonable steps to do no harm to civic space in partner countries or territories.

5.Support and engage with international, regional, and national bodies and initiatives that work to respect, protect, and promote civic space.

6.Support, as appropriate, partner country or territory government institutions of accountability and oversight, legal, and regulatory frameworks, and capacities to enable civil society in line with human rights, as well as to prevent unintended consequences due to misinterpretation or misapplication of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing standards.

7.Work with the private sector and independent media, where appropriate, to respect, protect and promote open civic space and promote social dialogue as a prerequisite for conducive business and media environments.

8.Explore and share strategies among providers and with civil society actors to counter mis- and disinformation, harassment, discrimination and anti-democratic narratives targeting civil society.

9.Support greater and more inclusive civil society participation in public policy at all levels of partner country or territory governments and with other institutions, including through the use of digital technologies.

10.Explore and address challenges, risks, and systematic inequalities associated with digital technologies that restrict or lead to digital disenfranchisement of civil society actors in partner countries or territories.


III.RECOMMENDS that Adherents, when acting in their roles as development co-operation and humanitarian assistance providers, support and engage with civil society and to such end:

1.Establish, in consultation with civil society, policies or strategies for working with civil society in both partner countries or territories and provider countries that:

a.articulate objectives for working with a diverse range of civil society actors both as independent development and humanitarian actors in their own right and as implementing partners;

b.aim to strengthen local ownership and an inclusive and independent civil society in partner countries or territories; 

c.take into account contextual risks or opportunities for civil society and civic spaces; and

d.integrate these policy or strategy positions into wider development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding policies or strategies.

2.Pursue civil society actors’ participation, especially in partner countries or territories where appropriate and feasible, in Adherents’ policy and programme priority-setting, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation through more structured, institutionalised, inclusive, and accessible dialogue, including with parliaments, the private sector, and the public.

3.Provide financial support to diverse civil society actors as independent development and humanitarian actors in their own right as well as to civil society actors as implementing partners, particularly those representing persons in the most vulnerable or marginalised positions, by, where appropriate and feasible, increasing the availability of flexible and predictable support, core support, and/or programme-based support.

4.Promote and invest in the leadership of local civil society actors in partner countries or territories by, where appropriate and feasible:

a.increasing the availability and accessibility of direct, flexible, and predictable support including core and/or programme-based support, to enhance their financial independence, sustainability, and local ownership;

b.supporting civil society strategic alliances, networks, platforms and resource centres at regional, national, and sub-national levels, that can: to strengthen civil society actors, including their ability to develop local financial resource streams and to protect and promote civic space; and

ii.represent civil society voices to international and regional institutions and fora, partner and provider country governments and other stakeholders; and

c.ensuring local civil society actors are involved in decision-making based on equal power relations with supported civil society strategic alliances, networks, platforms and resource centres, in the design, budgets, and implementation of their programming.

5.Explore and share lessons on how to best support a broad range of formal and informal, traditional, and new types of civil society actors and actions at regional, national, and sub-national levels in partner countries or territories, such as social movements, social economy actors, trade unions, and faith-based organisations.

6.Streamline administrative requirements for civil society support to lower transaction costs for civil society and providers, and incorporate adaptive and flexible processes into results management of civil society funding.

7.Enhance transparency and accessibility of information in partner countries or territories on provider funding for civil society, balancing transparency with potential security and political risks for funded civil society actors in sensitive environments.

8.Support and work with civil society actors to advance global citizenship education for inclusive sustainable development and facilitate people’s and civil society’s engagement to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

9.Work with civil society actors to respect DAC and other international standards related to the humanitarian-development-peace nexus and to ending sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in development co-operation and humanitarian assistance.

10.Pursue internal co-ordination and dialogue across their government, as well as consultation with related institutions as appropriate, with a view to:          

a.advancing respect for international humanitarian law and the principle of non-discrimination; and

b.addressing obstacles to supporting civil society working with persons in the most vulnerable and marginalised positions that may arise from unintended consequences due to misinterpretation or misapplication of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing standards.


IV.RECOMMENDS that Adherents, when acting in their roles as development co-operation and humanitarian assistance providers, incentivise CSO effectiveness, transparency, and accountability and to such end:

1.Call on and support voluntary CSO efforts to build on existing good practice and standards in CSO-led self-regulation, transparency and accountability mechanisms to broaden CSO participation in such mechanisms.

2.Call on and support CSOs to develop or build on existing internal systems to meet relevant human rights standards to prevent and respond to the root causes of discrimination, exploitation, abuse, or harassment in their activities and organisations.

3.Work with and support CSOs to implement mutual capacity strengthening to address CSOs’ vulnerabilities and bolster their resilience, accountability, and effectiveness, especially at partner country or territory level.

4.Support more equitable partnerships between provider country and/or international CSOs, and the partner country or territory CSOs they work with in which the comparative advantages of each type of CSO are appropriately drawn from.

5.Promote participatory and rights-based approaches for local ownership and accountability of CSOs and their activities throughout programme design, implementation, and monitoring, while helping ensure that programmes do not exacerbate existing forms of discrimination or inequalities.

6.Foster CSO leadership and innovation in identifying and adapting new approaches to solving development and humanitarian challenges, including through partnerships and co-creation with a range of actors.

7.Encourage, and support as appropriate, CSOs’ voluntary initiatives to collaborate and co-ordinate among themselves and with all levels of partner country or territory governments, to avoid duplication and competition, and build mutual respect, trust, and accountability.

8.Require, as appropriate, CSO partners to respect relevant international standards and adhere to relevant legal and regulatory requirements in the partner countries or territories they work in, where such requirements respect human rights and open civic space.

V.INVITES the Secretary-General to disseminate this DAC Recommendation;

VI.INVITES Adherents to disseminate this DAC Recommendation, particularly throughout their development, humanitarian, and peacebuilding agencies and partners, and across government;

VII.INVITES non-Adherents to take account of and adhere to this DAC Recommendation;

VIII.ENCOURAGES relevant non-governmental partners to disseminate and follow this DAC Recommendation;

IX.AGREES that the DAC will, in line with its programme of work and budget:

a.Continue to enable Adherents to share policies, best practices, and innovative approaches to enabling civil society in Adherents’ development co-operation and humanitarian assistance through existing fora and processes, consulting with civil society actors throughout, in order to support mutual learning and adaptation, and develop tools to support the implementation of this DAC Recommendation;

b.Review the implementation of this DAC Recommendation, including through the existing DAC peer review mechanism, and support lesson learning, adaptation, and sharing of best practices to build understanding and capability; and

c.Develop a report on implementation of these measures no later than five years following the adoption of this DAC Recommendation and at least every ten years thereafter. To read more: