Brazilian Civil Society Organizations

Eight NGOs from Brazil signed a statement that they presented at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness that took place in Busan, Korea, from 29 November to 1 December 2011. They call for change in the definition of developmen and want to overcome the technocratic understanding that prevails in the concepts of the large global players. It needs to encompass additional parameters such as well-being on the basis of free participation and fair distribution of the benefits of development. The role of civil society in these processes needs to be fully recognized, and international cooperation needs to start from the principle of horizontal relations, leading to a global partnership for development.

Declaration on International Cooperation and Development Effectiveness

Today’s world is facing a series of irremediably interconnected crises: economic, food, energy and climatic; the most severe consequences of this scenario affect mainly the poorest sectors of less developed countries. In this context, the review of practices and principles adopted in international cooperation for development becomes more necessary and represents a challenge that must be faced with responsability and solidarity by all nations. In view of this reality, the undersigned Brazilian civil society organizations stress their commitment to work for excluded and marginalized groups and populations and support the idea that the focus of international cooperation must be on the struggle against structural causes of inequality and poverty. We also point out that it is utterly important to include the theme of international cooperation in a more comprehensive debate on the meanings of development in view of issues regarding environmental sustainability, gender equality and the right to decent work for all men and women.

Since the last Forum, held in 2008, in Accra, civil society organizations from all over the world have been organizing themselves in international platforms (such as Better Aid and Open Forum for Civil Society Organizations Effectiveness) to influence the process of reforming the “architecture of international aid”, whose central role is traditionally played by representatives of national governments and intergovernmental agencies. The Busan Forum represents a good opportunity for Brazil to play a central role in this debate, contributing with its experience as re- cipient of international aid and, most recently, as a relevant actor in South-South Cooperation.

In this sense, and based on the fact that Brazilian society is organized and engaged in international cooperation processes, we present our proposals for the 4 th Forum on Effectiveness, to be held from November 29 th to December 1 st 2011, which is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

1. Making the debate more comprehensive: from Aid Effectiveness to Development Effectiveness

We agree with the proposal presented by international CSO coalitions that em- phasizes the effectiveness of development to substitute the procedure-oriented and technocratic focus that has been characterizing the debate on aid effectiveness. The Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) defines development as

“a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process that aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom”.

This focus, in addition to the environmental sustainability aspect, must be adopted. It is necessary to overcome the productivist-consumerist model on behalf of a concep- tion of human and social development based on the fair distribution of produced resources and wealth, on the defense of human rights and common goods and on democratic participation.

Cooperation for international development is not restricted to the provision of more financial resources or the transfer of knowledge through technical coopera- tion. Actually, cooperation must seek to eliminate the structural causes of underde- velopment that result in dependence on aid, capital and external markets. There- fore, we defend the “coherence of policies”, which involves ensuring that policies related to the global trade system and the international financial system will also contribute to the well-being of the poorest and most marginalized populations.

Within this context, we reinforce the need to review the “results agenda”. We recognize the importance of monitoring and evaluating results, but we are con- cerned with the current focus given on reductive monitoring approaches that distort the incentives of the cooperation system. Development is the result of a long term and complex process, our actions should be oriented by relevant and strategic objectives.

We particularly recommend that:
• the declaration resulting from the Busan Forum defines Development Effectiveness, taking into account social justice and environmental sustainability, with well-established and “monitorable” commitments in this regard;
• Brazil works to promote coherence between international cooperation policies and foreign policies adopted by countries and institutions that fund development;
• the Busan Forum encourages discussions on new models of development, which are more compatible with the goals of overcoming inequalities, promoting a decent work agenda and environmental sustainability.

2. Recognizing civil society as international cooperation for development actors in its own right

Millions of civil society organizations in the world give a unique and essential E contribution to development as innovative agents for change and social transforma tion. Civil society supports the construction of a democratic institutionality in several A countries; they propose sustainable and socially fair development alternatives; they support grassroots communities; they fund and actively participate in development actions; they promote knowledge and innovation; they work to raise awareness around the world and promote solidarity among peoples.

We adopt the Istanbul Principles, which relate to the effectiveness of the contribution made by civil society organizations for development. We also adopt the proposals contained in the International Framework for CSO Effectiveness – the Sian Reap Consensus (see www.cso-effectiveness.org/-marco-internacion- al,114-.html). We point out the need to ensure an environment and standards that enable the participation of civil society in development processes and international cooperation. The creation of an environment that enables the participation of civil society is a fundamental international demand and is particularly seen in the Brazilian context.

Indeed, the elaboration of a legal framework in harmony with the role played by Brazil in the international system of cooperation for development is not only relevant to guide government actions, but it is also an opportunity to include civil society in the elaboration and implementation of a more participatory cooperation policy that is coherent with contemporary demands regarding development effectiveness.

We particularly recommend that:
• the Declaration resulting from the Busan Forum recognizes the progress achieved by civil society in defining the Istanbul Principles and includes “monitorable” commitments that ensure an environment and standards that enable the active participation of civil society in the cooperation process;
• the Brazilian government and non-government representatives in Busan make official the creation of permanent communication between government and civil society regarding international cooperation for development;
• the Brazilian government, in collaboration with civil society, elaborates a legal framework and develops a public policy for international cooperation that includes the active participation of civil society.

3. Promoting horizontality among countries in an inclusive international cooperation system

We support the position taken by Brazil’s government delegation in Accra, ac- cording to which the current international cooperation frameworks (the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action) do not reflect the real configuration of this system, since they do not include the cooperation experience of countries that do not belong to DAC/OECD or the particular dynam- ics of the South-South Cooperation. For years now, the Brazilian government has been intensifying its international engagement and has been expanding its scope of action in terms of international cooperation, such as the technical cooperation between Brazil and other Southern countries. This cooperation is characterized by promoting fields in which Brazil has achieved recogni- tion and is starting to point out new directions for international cooperation. In this sense, we recognize the protagonist role and the effort made by the Brazilian government through the Agência Brasileira de Cooperação do Ministério das Relações Exteriores (ABC/MRE), and several ministries engaged in South-South Cooperation.

Current discussions that have been carried out and positions that have been taken regarding Aid Effectiveness reinforce the importance of South-South Cooperation in the creation of fairer, more equal and more sustainable societies. However, the stress given to South-South Cooperation cannot lead to a decrease in the support given by developed countries to middle-income countries or to make international donors exempt from liability. We believe that all countries can cooperate with one another and must do so to struggle against poverty, human rights violations, inequalities and environmental destruction wherever these things occur.

The experience gathered by CSO in the last forty years has contributed to the horizontalization of cooperation practices among countries. This experience constitutes a valuable repertoire of development knowledge and practices that must be the qualitative differential of South-South Cooperation, since many public policies that are shared for being considered “good practices” are result of social constructions and political struggles whose main actor was civil society. Despite the fact that the engagement of civil society in cooperation is taking place, it could be expanded and deepened through partnership with the government. In this sense, we call attention to the need to recognize the role of civil society in the development of a more equal cooperation practice that has greater ownership potential.

We particularly recommend that:
• the Brazilian government gives its contribution to overcome the traditional model of international aid, which is comprised of recipients and donors, and adopt an international system formed by cooperating participants;
• the Brazilian government recognizes the role played by domestic CSO in the development of practices and principles that inform Brazil’s cooperation;
• the Brazilian government develops, with the support of CSO, innovative ways of harmonizing South-South Cooperation with the permanent need for funds R coming from Northern partners.

The Busan Forum is an opportunity to start a new reflection process led by the actors involved in South-South Cooperation in order to define a new framework to guide official development assistance policies that enable dialogue and effective collaboration among peoples. In this sense, the Open Forum for Civil Society Organization Development Effectiveness experience may be used as an example.

4. A Brazilian cooperation policy that is participatory and engaged in post-Busan international governance

We support the current effort made to create a Global Partnership for the Effec- tiveness of Development that will consolidate the inclusion of non-governmental actors – the process initiated in Accra – and that will include the focus on policies to reduce poverty and the various forms of inequality. The theme of development effectiveness must be discussed in a multilateral and legitimate forum, beyond the scope of OECD. Therefore, we recommend the creation of a Global Partnership for Development Effectiveness, which will include both governmental and non-govern- mental representatives from developed and developing countries. It will coordinate international initiatives at several levels, such as the UN Forum on Cooperation for Development and the UN agenda on cooperation funding.

As regards the topic of transparency and accountability as related to funds inverted in international cooperation for development, an example which can mobilise international partners can be found in Brazilian society. Brazil’s lead- ership in international forums on transparency, such as the Open Government Partnership, increases the need for more transparency regarding its investment in international cooperation. We recognize the effort made by the government to survey funds invested in cooperation for other developing countries, which resulted in the publication of the first report on Brazilian Cooperation for International Development, elaborated by the Agência Brasileira de Cooperação do Ministério das Relações Exteriores (ABC/MRE) and by IPEA (Brazilian Institute for Applied Economic Research), in which data from 2005 to 2009 were included. However, we call attention for the need to include civil society in the process that will reflect on Brazil’s contribution to cooperation and request more complete and updated information regarding amounts, partners, approaches and results on this matter.

We particularly recommend that:
• the Brazilian government delegation in Busan supports the creation of a more inclusive, ECOSOC registered and development effectiveness-oriented Global Partnership for Development;
• the Brazilian government ensures greater transparency and civil society participation regarding investments made by the government in international cooperation for development programs and projects.

The undersigned support this declaration:

Associação Brasileira de Organizações Não Governamentais (Abong) – www.abong.org.br
ActionAid Brasil – www.actionaid.org.br
Articulação Sul – info@articulacaosul.org
Centro Feminista e Estudos e Assessoria (CFEMEA) – www.cfemea.org.br 
Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (Ibase) – www.ibase.org.br 
Instituto e Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc) – www.inesc.org.br
Instituto para o Desenvolvimento da Cooperação e Relações Internacionais (Idecri) – www.idecri.org.br
Instituto Pólis – www.polis.org.br

 

Editions

Article search

You can search for articles in our article index (sorted by authors, issues, year, regions and countries). It also provides a full text search.

Subscribe

The journal Adult Education and Development is distributed free of charge in English, French and Spanish. If you wish to receive the journal, please subscribe here.