The 2011 Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) was a historic landmark for a new and a more inclusive arena for civil society engagement. It offered a new model of partnership among different stakeholders and explored the possibilities of what may be achieved in a continuing process of dialogue among governments, international institutions, development agencies and civil society, as co-equal partners in development.
With the multiple roles that civil society organizations undertake – from service delivery, community organizing, information and education, resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, to research and policy advocacy – it is indeed a huge challenge and an enormous pressure to become effective development actors. And civil society acknowledges that these actions for development will only be effective if it brings about sustainable change that addresses the root causes, as well as the symptoms, of poverty, inequality and marginalisation.
Civil society embarked on a three-year process between 2009 and 2011, and reached out to thousands of CSOs across the globe through national, regional and thematic consultations. These consultations aimed at identifying the shared principles that guide the work of civil society and the standards for an environment where they can operate most effectively. This worldwide process enabled the greatest possible number of CSOs, with diverse mandates for development, to contribute to the articulation of the Istanbul Principles and the Siem Reap Consensus on the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness. The Istanbul Principles are not new – they are an affirmation of the core values and beliefs that civil society upholds as development actors working for positive sustainable change to empower the marginalised to claim their rights.