Trade Union Focus on Development - Issue 13


From 27 to 30 September 2010, the first Global Assembly of the “Open Forum of CSO Effectiveness and Enabling Environment” took place in Istanbul. The main aim of the Assembly discussed and adopted a draft framework for CSO effectiveness that is based on the national and thematic consultations that took place over the last months.

The outcomes of the GA should be the basis for addressing the governments on the place and contribution of civil society in development cooperation. In many ways this remains a very controversial issue. Governments in many developing countries still see civil society as “opposition” or at least as a strange bird in the national political scenery. Although the trade union movement enjoys, as one of the few civil society organisations, legally framed “freedom of association” (ILO C87-98), the ITUC annual report on violation of trade union freedom does illustrate the fragility of this right to organise and to freedom of speech.

The Accra Agenda of Action, which implements aspects of the Paris Declaration, did recognise explicitly the contribution of CSOs to development, and the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (the official follow-up group) does include, since Accra, civil society on an equal basis as the other stakeholders (governments, donors, multilaterals,...). This important step forward, however, has been made on pragmatic grounds and has not (yet) set out the appropriate rights-based framework for CSO participation.

In order to be effective, there has to be a legal framework that enables the “right of initiative” and allows CSOs to be actors “in their own right”. That is what trade unions learned after more than 50 years applying the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Right to Organise.

The Open Forum GA is the very first step into the process of redefining the policy and action space for CSOs and trade unions in development. At the same time, the Structured Dialogue with the EU (see previous bulletin) revisits similar questions linked to the EU development policies.

The ITUC has been working intensively on these questions and the results will be made public over the next weeks as a contribution both to the global and the European debates. It is also an invitation to take these positions forward into the upcoming national policy debates on the road to the next High Level Forum on Development Effectiveness to take place in Busan in 2011.

The TUDCN team

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