Power Shift and Governance Reform

In a survey conducted by the International Civil Society Centre in Spring 2017, over two-thirds of organisations stated that their governance is – at least sometimes – too slow, too cumbersome, and much too focused on balancing national interests. Increasingly ICSOs’ governance is being perceived as standing in the way of the organisations fulfilling their missions for often not allowing for sufficient global oversight of organisations’ operations

The majority of the ICSOs the Centre surveyed plan to undertake a governance reform in the next two years. As a part of these reforms, most of the organisations want to include more partners – usually from the Global South – in their governing bodies in the future. However, including partners from the Global South in a model where power lies predominantly with national affiliates in the Global North will neither provide ICSOs with more legitimacy nor will it deliver better effectiveness. Rather than addressing the logistics of decision-making, ICSOs need to review and revise the distribution of power in their organisations.

ICSOs need to break the circle of frequent governance reform by transforming their governance into a different and much more effective system. They need to transform their governance structures and processes in such a way that their key stakeholders – especially representatives from the Global South – have appropriate roles, responsibilities and powers in the organisation.

The Centre aims to support ICSOs with devising and launching this transformation process. The Centre invites Board Chairs, Board Members, CEOs, Deputy CEOs and other top-level leaders to jointly develop new, more effective and more legitimate forms of ICSO governance at its Global Governance Lab on ‘Power Shift and Governance Reform’.

The project will:

  • Develop concepts for a more appropriate and effective distribution of roles, responsibilities, oversight, and powers among ALL major stakeholders, specifically empowering those who are supposed to benefit from ICSOs’ work;
  • Formulate new approaches to ICSO governance that secure decision-making processes that provide a better balance between those who provide resources and those who implement and benefit from these;
  • Create individual governance frameworks for participating ICSOs allowing them to turn their governance into a more legitimate and effective leadership tool for their organisations;
  • Broaden best practices for ICSOs in reconciling the principles of democratic governance with those of effective governance.

Next Event:  9 – 11 October, 2019, Berlin Germany