Inter Pares submission to DFATD consultation Draft Civil Society Partnership Strategy

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Inter Pares welcomes the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development’s (DFATD) consultative process on its new Draft Civil Society Partnership Policy. We welcome the opportunity to build a relationship between Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) and DFATD that is based on mutual respect, and that recognizes the commitment of Canadian CSOs, and ultimately their Canadian constituencies, to building a world that is peaceful, equal and just.

CSOs have long made important contributions to global development and North-South understanding, long engaged the Canadian public as global citizens, worked collaboratively with government and have given Canada visibility through our programs around the world. CSOs have raised billions of dollars from the Canadian public in supporting their respective missions and mandates.

Furthermore, we recognize many instances where CSOs have had a strong and collegial relationship with the Canadian government. We appreciate that DFATD and its predecessors have supported and do support CSOs in changing the world for the better. We hope that this process will lead to better understanding between government and CSOs and greater trust.

Summary of recommendations 

Inter Pares supports many of the aspirations and commitments by the government in the Draft Civil Society Partnership Strategy document. We recommend the following modifications:

  1. Commit support for responsive programs addressing the stated needs, goals and priorities of CSOs.
  2. Commit to funding mechanisms for the work of Canadian CSOs that are predictable, but also conducive to long-term, responsive programming.
  3. Commit to an accompanying public action plan to implement the policy.
  4. Make an explicit commitment to regular, open dialogue with Canadian CSOs.
  5. Recognize the legitimacy of Canadian CSO interventions in domestic debates that are within their mandate.
  6. Acknowledge Canadian CSO contributions to development as “knowledge-builders”.
  7. Ensure the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (ODAAA) is foundational, non-negotiable and privileged compared to other instruments, given it is a Canadian domestic legislative requirement.
  8. Show a renewed and strengthened commitment to the promotion of women’s rights.
  9. Provide greater recognition to CSOs as development actors in their own right, independent of their alignment with government policy.
  10. Remove objective 7 or expand it to include other relevant development actors.
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