ICSO Thematic Group

International Civil Society Organisations (ICSOs) are key players in international development. More than ten percent of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) to developing countries was channelled through ICSOs in 2006, which contributed an additional US$ 20 billion through public fundraising that year. Yet their role in development goes beyond financial provision.

They have become influential advocates for democracy and social justice, important part of civil society coalitions, and play an essential role in humanitarian responses. It is very important, therefore, that the ICSO perspective is fed into the global consultation process of the Open Forum. For this reason, the Open Forum has committed to providing a platform to discuss which are key principles of development effectiveness and discuss the issues around the enabling environment that are specific to the ICSO sector.

The result of these discussions became part of the draft framework and recommendations stemming out of the Open Forum and will help to strengthen the collective voice of the sector in the next High Level Forum of Aid Effectiveness in Busan in late 2011, and beyond.

Background Paper on ICSO Outreach and the Open Forum



From June to December 2010, the Open Forum contracted a consultant (Jeannet Lingan) to coordinate with ICSOs and conduct some preliminary outreach and research on the topic of ICSOs and development effectiveness. To guide that work, the Open Forum set up an advisory group in July 2010 with representatives of six international CSOs, who led on some of these activities.

The two main activity areas for this period included:

- Research: This component will provide an opportunity to gather information, through one-to-one interviews, from a wide range of ICSOs. It will explore organizational approaches for development effectiveness, the challenges for implementing them and the common issues around the enabling environment that facilitate or constraint their work. The report will be published in January 2011.

- Outreach: this component aims to facilitate the participation and involvement of ICSOs in the Open Forum process. The activities will aim at strengthening communication between ICSOs and the Open Forum and providing a platform for the participation and involvement of ICSOs throughout the whole process.

The results of this research and outreach are compiled in the The ICSO Effectiveness Report 2010. Click here to download your copy!


In order to take the results of this preliminary outreach and research on ICSOs and development effectiveness, in February 2011, the Open Forum contracted the Berlin Civil Society Centre to take a lead in coordinating with the larger Open Forum process to identify and harmonize the next steps and advocacy for the ICSO sector towards HLF4 and beyond.

The Advisory Group was also updated, and now includes representatives from:
- Plan International
- Care International
- Oxfam International
- World Vision
- Transparency International

This Open Forum ICSO Advisory Group worked with the Berlin Civil Society Centre in the run-up to the Global Assembly of the Open Forum in Cambodia in June 2011, as well as conducted advocacy and mobilization towards HLF4 in Busan later this year.

Other Resources and Updates

The ICSO Effectiveness Report 2010 is now available! Click here to download your copy!

Accountability and Effectiveness initiatives use by International CSOs

There are several initiatives that ICSOs have set up at international level. These initiatives encompass principles and/or standards by which organizations claim effectiveness and accountability. We provide here a comparison of the main principles underlying eight of the most well-known initiatives from the development, humanitarian, health and environmental/conservation sectors currently in use.

First Open Forum Global Assembly and Istanbul Principles

The Open Forum process has synthesised eight principles of development effectiveness for CSOs (Istanbul principles) drawing from its consultation in more than 50 countries. The principles were discussed and endorsed in its first global assembly in early October. These initiatives demonstrate that there is a wide consensus within CSOs on the principles that should reflect the effectiveness of their work. Efforts are still on their way to provide tools and indicators for their application and make them a common norm in the sector.

Survey: ICSO´s perspectives on development effectiveness

As part of the 2010 outreach and research activities of the Open Forum ICSO thematic consultation, and in order for the Open Forum to gather the feedback of international CSOs (ICSOs) on development effectiveness and the enabling environment, we conducted a 10 minute online survey with ICSOs from across the globe. The purpose of this survey was to explore views on the main priorities of INGOs regarding development effectiveness and the enabling environment. It also explores opinions on the mechanisms to encourage compliance with development effectiveness principles.
You can see a copy of the survey here

INGO Accountability Charter

The INGO Accountability Charter outlines a common commitment to excellence, transparency and accountability among INGOs. To demonstrate and build on these commitments, and through the Charter, they seek to:
- identify and define shared principles, policies and practices;
- enhance transparency and accountability, both internally and externally;
- encourage communication with stakeholders; and
- improve our performance and effectiveness as organisations

For more information, please check out the INGO Charter Company website


All updates, documents and activities are shared on the Open Forum website, including this webpage, the Open Forum blog, the Open Forum Facebook Page and on our Twitter page.

For more information via email, please write to info at cso-effectiveness.org