A new playbook for international civil society to put into action solidarity
Together with a newly formed Working Group of international civil society organisation (ICSO) and CSO colleagues, the International Civil Society Centre is now embarking on the next phase of developing a Solidarity Playbook.
For years now, civil society worldwide is facing increasing restrictions to their freedoms of association, assembly, expression and exchange of information. Likewise, their reputations have been consistently attacked. Human rights activists have always been targeted, however, even large ICSOs are now coming under pressure. There are growing fears over staff safety and the ability to deliver essential operations in varied contexts. Even when size does offer some cover, their partners are attacked. In turn, they require support and solidarity.
Many global coalitions have responded by making calls to action aimed at “providing solidarity”, and yet even in our highly value-driven sector, it often proves difficult to get the results we all hope for.
Why is solidarity playbook needed and how can it help international CSOs show “solidarity”?
Many organisations shy away from public proclamations of solidarity as they do not want to put staff members and operations at risk. Through many stakeholder conversations, the Centre has identified the need to approach solidarity differently and enable collective learning on how ICSOs can better support each other and their partners, particularly in contexts where confrontational advocacy is not an avenue they can pursue. Our conversations show that the need and the desire to cooperate better between different strands of civil society has never been bigger and our opportunity to turn this challenge into an opportunity never greater.
The International Civil Society Centre is working with ICSOs and their CSO partners to develop a new playbook for solidarity and cooperation, to be able to better respond to the clampdown, to be better prepared and to push back to the boundaries of what civil society restrictions have come to be.
The Centre commissioned a study on ICSO response mechanisms and national civic space coalitions to assess where we are collectively and to begin sharing and learning from each other. This study “Solidarity in Times of Scrutiny” was shared with some 40 delegates of the International Civic Forum, convened by the Centre on 29 October 2019 in Addis Ababa. The delegates, colleagues from ICSOs, CSOs and philanthropy, highly valued the space for exchange and the Centre’s initiative to facilitate shared learning and re-envision our solidarity mechanisms. They provided ideas and feedback for the Solidarity Playbook. The Centre is currently reviewing and discussing with the Working Group how to turn feedback and ideas into a format that best serves the sector. Throughout 2020, the Centre will be leading the development of the Playbook together with the Working Group and with the help of an Advisory Group. At the end of 2020, the playbook will be launched at the International Civic Forum.
Should you be interested in finding out more or joining our Advisory Group, please contact the project manager Miriam Niehaus (email@example.com).
Civil society organisations are innovators. They test new approaches to both traditional and emerging problems. One of today’s most pressing issues is the rise of populism, which can both erode and in some instances directly attack, these organisations’ legitimacy and impact. While civil society organisations have addressed these challenges, there is a significant opportunity for organisations to learn and benefit from the lessons others have encountered. That is the goal of this inaugural Innovation Report, titled: Civil Society Innovation and Populism in a Digital Era.
In this report, International Civil Society Centre partnered with JustLabs to highlight innovative, hopeful responses and solutions by civil society actors around the world, check out some of the case studies:
Visit our Innovation Website to find out more about the aims of the report and all the case study content:
The Leave No One Behind project is lifting off. With concrete results and recommendations from the five pilot countries, there is continued energy among the project partners and allies to continue this joint initiative to make voices heard and count.
At the annual project partners meeting in Berlin, the partnership confirmed that the novel approach to Sustainable Development Goal monitoring and implementation represents an important stepping stone for the realisation of the promise to leave no one behind in SDG implementation. Recognition of this comes from the highest levels, too. In July, the project was invited to present at the United Nation’s High Level Political Forum (HLPF). By participating in the HLPF new connections are made in our shared mission to make all people’s voices heard and count in SDG implementation.
In late June project partners presented, discussed and evaluated the results of the pilot phase of the project that sees twelve leading ICSOs joining forces to make the voices of marginalised people heard and count in SDG implementation. The five pilot countries are Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Kenya and Vietnam.
The principle at the heart of the SDGs, to leave no one behind is yet to be fully realised in current monitoring and implementation. The pilot project shows that the novel approach taken by the project partners is capable of ‘building a bridge’ between gaps in statistical monitoring and policymaking. Community-driven data has proven its potential to identify specific drivers of vulnerability at the local level and to develop purposeful policy recommendations to address these local issues.
The project partners will now define the concrete next steps to move ahead towards a collective four-year engagement until the mid-point of SDG delivery in 2022. Together with partners from across the sectors, we want to work towards a more inclusive, accountable and participatory SDG implementation in a growing number of countries worldwide.
The partnership presented its results at the High Level Political Forum in New York. In addtion, the partnership were central to two well attended side events where there were in depth discussions about our unique approach and futre collaboration.
As a result their input, the partnership is invited to contribute to the Voluntary National Review labs of the HLPF. They will present the approach to an international expert audience of statistics agencies and political decision-makers. Also, the UN Deputy Secretary General’s SDG strategy hub is keen to explore how we can work together.