Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from both North and South have a long history of informal engagement with the DAC. In recent years, CSOs have come together to an informal network to coordinate their engagement with the DAC on issues of shared interest, for instance, the ODA modernisation process. This network has also been advocating for enhanced dialogue and consultation between CSOs and the DAC. Overtime, and within the context of the DAC reform process, CSOs have moved from this informal group to a more structured Group, the ‘DAC – CSO Reference Group’. The Group was envisioned to help coordinate CSO’s advocacy towards the DAC and to ensure broad participation by reaching out to CSOs that had not previously engaged with the DAC, from both the Global South and the North.
The DAC-CSO Dialogue
Over the last decade, governments and other development actors have endorsed global commitments to enhance the role of civil society in development and provide an enabling environment for CSOs, including in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. One of the key elements of the enabling environment has been the strengthening of CSOs’ participation in multi-stakeholder dialogue fora that address development policies and practices.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) – responsible for promoting development policies and development cooperation – aims at increasing its outreach to development actors beyond the DAC’s membership to influence and be influenced and increase transparency. These efforts are in line with the commitment made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to “hold open, inclusive and transparent discussions on the modernization of the ODA measurement and on the proposed measure of “total official support for sustainable development”.
Framework for Dialogue between the DAC and Civil Society Organisations
In July 2018, the OECD-DAC adopted the ‘DAC-CSO Dialogue Framework’, which aims to provide an effective, efficient and inclusive partnership between the DAC and CSOs. The dialogue framework offers a structure for a long-term and ambitious approach to the interactions between the DAC and CSOs. It was drafted in close cooperation with civil society, represented by the DAC-CSO Reference Group, and is based on joint principles and commitments.
So far, the Group has focused mainly on the ODA modernisation process, with a particular attention to the reform of ODA rules on peace and security (2016), on in-donor refugee costs (2016-17), on the new code on ODA and migration (2018) and on private sector instruments (2016-2018). Also, organisations from the Group have engaged in discussions on TOSSD (mainly through the ad hoc international Task Force), on the DAC reform process (focusing mainly on increased outreach to civil society, through the DAC CSO Dialogue Framework), on the OECD’s work on blended finance, and on the DAC’s instrument on Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). On these different issues, the Group has established thematic working groups, to which CSOs sign up on a voluntary basis.
The OECD-DCD maintains a dedicated webpage: Civil Society Engagement in Development Co-operation, which provides an overview of its initiatives to promote the civil society as a development actor in its own right.