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News, 8/24/2017

New Guidelines encourage civil society organisations to strengthen democratic societies

The Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy provide guidance for Finland’s efforts to strengthen civil societies in developing countries. The document also steers the work of civil society actors that receive funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Strengthening civil societies in developing countries is an important goal in Finland’s development policy. Civil societies provide opportunities for people to participate in and influence societal development and decision-making. Independent, pluralistic and polyphonic civil societies promote the realisation of human rights and the materialisation of global sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The new Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy are based on the Government Report on Development Policy (2016) as well as on the global SDGs. They provide guidance for Finland in its efforts to strengthen civil societies in developing countries. The work is important particularly now that the space for civil societies has been restricted in some countries.  The State of Civil Society Report 2017 published by CIVICUS (World Alliance for Citizen Participation) indicates that the civic space is currently restricted in more than one hundred countries.

Development results are achieved in cooperation

In accordance with the new Guidelines, in all activities funded from the Ministry's development cooperation appropriations, attention must be given to practices that will strengthen civil societies. To promote this objective, Finland supports hearing the voice of civil society actors in, for example, the European Union, international financial institutions and the UN.  Policy dialogue is conducted also by the missions of Finland abroad.

The Guidelines also steer the work of Finnish CSOs, international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and developing country CSOs. They are key partners for Finland in its development cooperation and humanitarian aid activities. Finland’s human rights based approach to development and the principles of effectiveness apply to civil society actors, too.

CSOs’ development cooperation is based on partnerships, especially with civil society actors in developing countries. Civil society actors cooperate with local authorities, businesses and the media, among others. The Guidelines encourage organisations to establish partnerships with various actors. Broad-based cooperation contributes to the creation of innovative ideas for resolving development challenges.

Update in cooperation with civil society actors

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has updated the Guidelines in close cooperation with civil society actors. The updating was preceded by a civil society study and four workshops with Kepa (Finnish NGO platform) and Kehys (Finnish NGDO Platform to the European Union), organised in spring 2017. The new Guidelines supersede the Foreign Ministry’s earlier Guidelines for Civil Society from 2010.

Read the entire text of the Guidelines:

pdfThe Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy 2017 (pdf, 18 pages, 166 KB)

The Unit for Civil Society at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (KEO-30) provides funding for development cooperation carried out by CSOs and civil society actors. In 2017, a total of EUR 65 million will be channelled via KEO-30 in the form of discretionary government transfers.

This document

Updated 8/28/2017

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