Over 30 representatives from International Civil Society Organisations gathered in Dhaka, Bangladesh for the Leave No One Behind Annual Meeting between 2 – 3 May. The group focussed on the progress made in the project’s pilot countries* and developing a joint political message, for the high-level political forum, from the initial key findings.
The next phase of the project pilot will involve rolling out the projects unique data collaboration between country offices of ICSOs. The aim is to ensure the recognition and validation of community-based data in the official SDG implementation of the five pilot countries. This will achieve the project’s main target: to make sure that people’s voices are heard, understood and acted upon.
Wolfgang Jamann, International Civil Society Centre Executive Director, said:
“The SDGs were created in the spirit of “leaving no one behind”. This means that they will only be considered fulfilled if all goals are reached, for everyone – especially those who live at the margins of society.
“This project is about raising the voices of those marginalised people around the world. By bringing together the wealth of evidence that is being collected by international civil society organisations we can put their voices at the centre of SDG implementation.
“Collectively, as a coalition, we have made some huge strides since this project started last year. The project shows that when leading ICSOs connect, they can go beyond organisational limits. By collaborating, we stand a better chance of reaching the SDG targets in more places. That can only be a positive thing.”
Peter Koblowsky, Leave No One Behind Project Manager, said:
“I am really pleased with the progress we have made in the two days. Our next steps will focus on consolidating country-level experiences and findings. This will help us to refine our planned activities and develop a scaling-up strategy for the project to be carried out in an increased number of countries, thereby reaching more marginalised communities around the globe. In addition, the outcomes from Dhaka will be used to prepare a joint message to be delivered at the High Level Political Forum. I hope that our common effort will be a success, so that the voices of the most marginalised around the world will be heard and make a difference in the implementation of the SDGs.”
*Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Kenya and India
This paper is based on a statement by the BOND network of British development organisations and a discussion among international civil society organisations (ICSOs). The International Civil Society Centre Centre recommends that ICSOs use the statement as a basis for further developing and enforcing their ethical standards. We recommend that all ICSOs sign up to and implement the action points listed.
As organisations whose core aim is to help the most vulnerable people in the world, to secure human rights and protect the environment we must always confront and eradicate abusive behaviour and the misuse of power. When it comes from individuals within our own staff it is a
double betrayal, not just of the people we exist to serve, but of the people (staff, volunteers, supporters, donors) who work with extraordinary engagement to achieve our mission. There can be no tolerance for the abuse of power, privilege or trust by individuals within our organisations or in our work. Our utmost priority is to those victims and survivors of abuse – to atone for damage that has been done and to stand in solidarity with those women who have faced such injustice. We have an absolute duty to our staff, our supporters and, above all, the people we seek to help to ensure we do everything in our power to prevent, detect and eradicate unethical behaviour.
We take every necessary step to prevent any wrongs occurring and to respond quickly and decisively if they do – and we will deepen these efforts further. We also have a clear responsibility to ensure that the people we seek to serve are not the ones punished for our mistakes. The
widespread public outcry at this behaviour demonstrates that people feel profound compassion for those who need civil society organisations’ help. We must honour that drive, and the rights and needs of the communities with which we work, by continuing to provide vital support but also by constantly seeking to improve.
We are fully committed to being transparent and accountable towards the people we serve, our partners, supporters and the public at large. That is why we are collectively announcing the following series of urgent and immediate measures:
In taking these steps, we are also asking people to come forward to report unacceptable behaviour. We hope these measures send a clear message to those who experience or witness any form of abuse or have done so in the past – it is essential that they know we take their reports
seriously and that we will take action.
These actions are only the first step as, collectively and individually, we do everything possible to ensure that our organisations, our staff and our work meet the most fundamental principle for all civil society organisations – to do no harm. We are truly sorry that there have been occasions when this has not been the case. We must and will do better.
On 13 February 2018, the Hungarian government tabled to Parliament a proposed legislative pack of three laws, commonly
referred to as “Stop Soros”. The newly proposed legislation would further restrict Hungarian civil society ability to carry out
their work, by requiring organizations that “support migration” to obtain national security clearance and a government permit
to perform basic functions. The proposed law would also require organizations to pay a tax of 25% of any foreign funding aimed
at “supporting migration”.
Failure to do so, would subject them to steps so serious that they could lead to exorbitant fines, bankruptcy, and the dissolving
of the NGO involved.
These come in a context of already shrinking space for civil society in Hungary and contravene Hungary’s obligations under
international law to protect the right to freedom of association, expression and movement.
We believe the new proposals represent the latest initiative in the Hungarian government’s escalating effort to crackdown on
the legitimate work of civil society groups in Hungary seeking to promote and defend human rights, provide legal and social
services to people in need in the country, and publicly express dissenting opinions in the press and online.
As defenders of rights and freedoms, we want people everywhere to be able to speak out without being attacked, threatened
or jailed. Open debate on matters relating to government policies and practice is necessary in every society, and human rights
defenders should not face criminalization for voicing their sometimes dissenting voices. Countries need to put laws in place
which keep human rights defenders safe from harm, rather than introducing repressive laws that aim to silence those who
Human rights defenders defend the rights of people in their own communities and their countries, and in doing so they protect
all of our rights, globally. Human rights defenders are often the last line of defence for a free and just society and undertake
immense personal risks and sacrifices to do their work.
We stand in solidarity with civil society and human rights defenders in Hungary.
They are courageous people, committed to creating a fairer society. Without their courage, the world we live in would be less
fair, less just and less equal.
We are calling on the Hungarian Parliament to reject the proposed laws in their entirety and let the NGOs and defenders
continue their work, instead of defending themselves against such attacks.