Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out



									                              The 58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference
                          Our Challenge: Voices for Peace,
                             Partnership and Renewal

        “Partnership within the Interlink between
     Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security;
     A Civil Society Perspective from the Arab Region”

                                     United Nations
                               New York 7-9 September 2005

                                                               Prepared by:
                                                               Ziad Abdel Samad1
                                                               Kinda Mohamadieh2

    Ziad Abdel Samad is the Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development
    Kinda Mohamadieh is the program coordinator of ANND

Acronyms                                                                   3
Preface                                                                    4

I. Partnership in the New Literature and Concepts                          6
of Development

II. Issues of Global Partnership as Reflected upon by the United
Nations’ Secretary General Report entitled “In Larger Freedom,             8
Towards Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security”

     II- 1. On Aid                                                         8

     II- 2. On Debt                                                       10

     II- 3. On Trade                                                      12

III. Regarding the Current Conception and Mechanisms of                   14
Partnership; The Importance of Partnership between Civil Society
and the United Nations

     III-1. A Look into the Cardoso Report Entitled “We the               14
     People: Civil Society, the United Nations, and Global

            III-1.a. Partnership with the Private Sector:                 16
            III-1.b. Partnership with Parliamentarians:                   18

     III-2. The Secretary General‟s Report “In Larger Freedom;            18
     Towards Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security”, and
     its Implications on the Understanding of Partnership

            III-2.a. On Development:                                      19
            III-2.b. On Human Rights:                                     21
            III-2.c. On Peace and Security:                               22

IV. Where is Partnership for the Arab Region?                             26

     IV-1.    Categories of the Arab Countries and Civil Society          27
     Prospects in Each

     IV-2.    The Implications of the Secretary General‟s Report on       31
     Terrorism, Reforms and Democracy, Development, Sanctions and
     Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Technical and Financial
     Capacities of Civil Society Organizations

             V-2.a. Terrorism, Occupation, and Conflicts                      31
             IV-2.b. Reforms and Democracy                                    33
             IV-2.c. Development as a Priority                                34
             IV-2.d. Sanctions and Nuclear Weapons                            36
             IV-2.e. Technical and Financial Capacities of Civil              36
             Society Organizations

V. What is ANND doing to enhance partnership?                                 38

      V-1. Organizing regional and national preparations for several          38
      UN Summits and events, including

      V-2. Monitoring and advocating the implementation of the                38
      commitments resulting from the UN summits

      V-3. Enhancing coordination to support efforts for democracy and        39
      good governance

      V-4. Coordinating efforts to face the results of the foreign            40
      occupations in Palestine and in Iraq:

      V-5. Partnership to build the capacities of the officials and the       40
      parliamentarians on trade related issues

VI.    Concluding Notes                                                       41

List of references                                                            42


ANND       Arab NGO Network for Development
CSOs       Civil society organizations
EC         European Commission
ECOSOC     Economic and Social Commission
ESCWA      Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
EU         European Union
GA         General Assembly
GCAP       Global Call to Action against Poverty
HIPCs      Highly Indebted Poor countries
IFIs       International Financial Institutions
IMF        International Monetary Fund
LDCs       Least developed countries
MDGs       Millennium Development Goals
MDGRs      Millennium Development Goals reports
NGOs       Non-governmental organizations
OECD       Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
PARC       Palestinian Agricultural and Relief Committees
POGAR      Program of Governance in the Arab Region
PRSPs      Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers
UN         United Nations
UNDP       United Nations Development Program
UNOPS      United Nations Office for Program Services
US         United States
UNCTAD     United Nations Commission for Trade and Development
WB         World Bank
WSIS       World Summit on Information Society
WSSD       World Summit on Sustainable Development
WTO        World Trade Organization


The following paper is meant to be a background for a presentation on best
practices of partnership initiatives to promote security, human rights and
sustainable development in the Middle East Region, from the perspective of
the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND). It is also meant to focus
on ANND‟s views on best practices from the experience of non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Arab region, especially in the
fields of capacity building, service delivery, and the promotion of good
governance, advocacy, and technological advancement.

Although it will not concentrate specifically on best practices, the following
paper will tend to draw upon the challenges of forging effective and
successful partnerships in the Arab region. It is a contribution to the debate
of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General‟s report “In Larger Freedom,
Towards Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security” from an Arab
civil society perspective. Accordingly, it aims at clarifying the approach by
which civil society in the Arab region has looked upon the report and what it
implied to them in light of the challenges they face while struggling to
contribute to social and human development.

The paper is divided into five sections;

   - The first section tries to briefly highlight the new understanding of
     partnership and the UN‟s discourse in this regards

   - The second section discusses the issues of global partnership as
     reflected by the Secretary General‟s report, emphasizing the needed
     role of civil society regarding the three suggested pillars of this
     partnership; aid, debt, and trade.

   - The third section focuses on the understanding of partnership
     between civil society and the UN, governments, private sector, and
     parliamentarians as it was reflected by the Cardoso Report entitled
     “We the People: Civil Society, the United Nations, and Global
     Governance”. In addition, it discusses the suggested conceptions and
     mechanisms of partnership on development, human rights, peace and
     security as it was presented by the Secretary General‟s report “In
     Larger Freedom, Towards Development, Human Rights, Peace and

- The fourth section focuses on partnerships in the Arab region and
  tries to analyze the main characteristics of Arab civil society and its
  challenges. In this context, it presents a look into the implications of
  the Secretary General‟s Report on main challenges for the Arab
  region, including terrorism, reforms and democracy, development,
  sanctions and weapons of mass destruction, and technical and
  financial capacities of civil society organizations. This section is
  based on the outcomes of a discussion seminar on the Secretary
  General‟s report, which was held last July in Lebanon at the UN
  house, with the participation of 145 civil society representatives from
  NGOs, academia, trade unions and social movements.

- The fifth section talks about some of the partnership initiatives that
  ANND is involved in. It concentrates on partnerships with various UN
  agencies both at the regional and the national levels, including
  programs and efforts to tackle the challenges of foreign occupations,
  and others in the areas of human sustainable development, trade
  issues, human rights, and democratic change.

     I. Partnership in the New Literature and Concepts of Development

Partnership has been often integral to mechanisms and processes linked to
sustainable development, socio-economic change, and human rights
protection. According to the predominant global perspective during the 20th
century, the market and the state were the two sets of organizational and
institutional tools to reach the goals of development. Now, these two sets of
tools have inherent limitations and neither can make up for the deficiency of
the other. It is within the context of this public good failure that civil society
and non-profit or non-governmental sector develops.

Partnership among public, private, and civil society has been pursued by the
international financial institutions (IFIs) when they were looking to promote
their structural adjustment policies (SAP) in the eighties, and later in the
nineties when they launched the initiative on poverty reduction strategy
papers (PRSPs). The stress on partnership reached a peak with the increase
of debate around the need to reform the IFIs, mainly the World Bank (WB)
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Accordingly, partnership has
been increasingly used in the discourse of the UN as well as other
international organizations. It has been strongly promoted since the Rio
Summit in 1992 and it was a main factor in the implementation process of
the resulting Agenda 21.

The discourse on partnership was maintained throughout the series of global
summits during the nineties, including discussions on partnerships for
sustainable development, human rights, environmental protection, and social
and economic development. The multi-stakeholder partnership approach has
been linked to good governance. Accordingly, this concept “has been
championed by business groups since the days of the original Earth Summit
in Rio….for by institutionalizing their role as stakeholders in official fora,
corporations gain considerable influence in any outcomes and benefit from
an image boost as they are seen to be part of the solution”3.

Within the partnership discourse, civil society organizations (CSOs) have
been the center of attraction, given the values they stand for and positive
image they hold. The IFIs, the UN agencies, as well as several governments
  “Rio +10 and the Privatization of Sustainable Development”, Corporate Europe Observer newsletter
(Issue 11- May 2002), available online at:

have quested partnership with various kinds of CSOs. For example, common
projects were implemented by many European governments or the European
Commission (EC) and NGOs during the eighties. Later, the European Union
(EU) took a step further by enhancing the role of CSOs in the whole
Barcelona process which was launched in 1995. Moreover, CSOs have
increasingly worked towards enhancing partnership and collaboration among
each other, in a quest to develop networks and initiate broad-based social
movements that could exert enough pressure towards achieving change.

During the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD)4, partnership was reinforced as the key word. Yet, much debate has
been raised on the implications of such a concept, many of which are still
lingering to date. The inequality of the three sectors, among which
partnership is emphasized, threatens the success of their cooperation, given
that outcomes could be engineered to the interest of the powerful. Before the
WSSD, several NGOs warned of the risks of partnerships undermining the
intergovernmental implementation program and the fact that business, with a
much stronger economic power than other groups, will drive the multi-
stakeholder dialogue processes.5 In fact, the troika partnership among public,
private, and civil society sectors was sometimes considered as a kind of
return to the tiers-état of the pre-French revolution, where two dominant
minorities- the public and the private sectors- are in control while the
majority- civil society- are marginalized6.

In 2002, the UN has set some criteria on which partnership initiatives would
be branded as official outcomes of the Summit. Projects had to be:
international both in scope and reach; be new - or if on-going have a
demonstrable 'added value' in the context of the Summit - and aimed at
implementing Agenda 21, the Millennium Declaration Goals (MDGs) or
sustainable activities in developing countries and countries with economies
in transition7. It is clear that such criteria were not strict or clear and thus
could not serve as basis for an efficient and effective selection criterion.

    The WSSD was held in Johannesburg on the 10th anniversary of the 1992 Rio Summit
   “Bali Next Stop for Johannesburg Summit Preparations” (April 5, 2002), available online at

 Houtard, François (2001), “Mondialisation Marchande et Dominations Impériales Forum Du Tiers-
Monde”, Contretemps 2.

    See reference 1

Although effective partnership is becoming more urgent and necessary given
the mounting and interlinked challenges we face today in development,
human rights, peace, and security, the appropriate grounds for partnership is
still not set yet. Today, partnership still reflects upon the same questions and

     II. Issues of Global Partnership as Reflected upon by the UN’s
     Secretary General Report entitled “In Larger Freedom, Towards
            Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security”

The Secretary General‟s report “In Larger Freedom, Towards Development,
Human Rights, Peace and Security”, discussed goal number eight of the
MDGs titled “Global Partnership for Development” in a section called
“Making Goal 8 Work: Trade and Financing for Development”. The report
outlined the discussion in three paragraphs on aid, debt, and trade. Although
partnership among government, civil society, and the private sector is not
confined to these three areas, it is worth looking into how the UN has
perceived them.

   II- 1.   On Aid:

The Secretary General‟s report talks about the failure of developed countries
to reach their commitment of 0.7% of GDP in aid, which emerged in the
1970‟s and was reaffirmed in the series of summits during the nineties,
especially in the Monterrey Summit on Financing for Development in 2002.
The report highlights that aid amounts decreased from 0.33% in the 1980‟s
to 0.25% currently. The report also urges all developed countries to set
timetables for reaching 0.7% by no later than 2015.

However, the report does not make reference to how things are expected to
change given that the trend has been in consistent deterioration since the
1980‟s. It also does not consider the impact of current trends of budget
deficits in developed countries, including most European countries, in
addition to the failure of the United States‟ (US) congress to support its
president‟s commitments. It further refers to proposals being discussed by
countries like Brazil, Chile, France, and Germany on innovative financing,
but it does not reflect on any mechanisms for further developing such
innovative proposals and increasing foreign aid.

Moreover, the report indicates that “starting in 2005, developing countries
that put forward sound, transparent and accountable national strategies and
require increased development assistance should receive a sufficient
increase in aid, of sufficient quality and arriving with sufficient speed to

enable them to achieve the MDGs”8. Yet, the reference to sound, transparent,
and accountable national policies is often linked to the conditions set about
by the WB. The results of implementing these policies during the eighties
and nineties often proved inadequate to developing countries. The report
lacks a clear statement on the complete realization of the impact of IFIs‟
policies, including that of the WB, the World Trade Organization (WTO),
and the IMF on the development processes of developing countries.

The report also talks about “the immediate action to support a series of
“quick wins” — relatively inexpensive, high-impact initiatives with the
potential to generate major short-term gains and save millions of lives”9. In
all the above, the report does not mention any role for CSOs, although their
capacities to reflect the needs of communities and to facilitate reaching out
to most vulnerable groups is most needed in these areas.

It is essential to stress that external aids should be related to poverty
reduction policies, dependant on the harmonization of the development
assistance agencies‟ policies, practices, and procedures, and dependant as
well on the national public capacities in absorbing, managing and
distributing this aid. Thus, in all the abovementioned, the role of civil society
would be a crucial factor in the process of reforming aid mechanisms and
making them more adequate to local and national needs, and, accordingly,
more sustainable within the development policies of developing countries.

II- 2. On Debt:

The Secretary General‟s report talked about the need to “…redefine debt
sustainability as the level of debt that allows a country to achieve the
Millennium Development Goals and reach 2015 without an increase in debt
ratios”10. Accordingly, the report called for 100 per cent debt cancellation of
highly indebted poor countries‟ (HIPCs) and significantly more debt
reduction for many heavily indebted middle-income countries. Indeed,
progress on debt has been positive given that the debt relief that was lately

 United Nations Secretary General‟s report “In Larger Freedom, Towards Development, Human Rights,
Peace and Security”, paragraph 50, page 17 of the report
 United Nations Secretary General‟s report “In Larger Freedom, Towards Development, Human Rights,
Peace and Security”, paragraph 52, page 17 of the report
  United Nations Secretary General‟s report “In Larger Freedom, Towards Development, Human Rights,
Peace and Security”, paragraph 54, page 18of the report

committed to by the G8 leaders includes debt to the IMF and includes 100%
permanent debt cancellation for some poor countries.

The current proposed debt relief and cancellation schemes immediately
benefit 18 countries and could benefit 38 countries in the upcoming years.
However, it leaves a lot of other countries that are burdened by their debts,
including highly indebted countries such as Sri Lanka, Kenya, and
Vietnam11. Oxfam, Action Aid, Jubilee 2000 and other international NGOs
and advocacy groups on debt calculate that over 60 countries will need 100
per cent of their multilateral debts cancelled if they are to reach the MDGs
by 201512. It is worth noting that the processes related to HIPCs and set
according to WB and IMF policy conditions and budget ceilings still play a
big part in the qualifying procedures for debt cancellation.

According to Christian Aid calculations, the HIPC program covered only 6.4
per cent of total debt of the world‟s poorest countries. Also, in 2002, only 42
out of 165 developing countries were eligible to the HIPC, out of which 20
complied with the IFIs conditions. In September 2002, a report issued by the
WB, on the Status of Implementation of the HIPC, showed that the Bank‟s
strategy for countries in the HIPC program “exporting themselves out of
debt” through exports of primary commodities did not work13. Yet, till date,
the HIPC and IFI‟s policies are being used as basis for debt relief and
cancellation programs. Their failure and negative impact on the development
process of most involved countries are not addressed in the Secretary
General‟s report. It ought to be stressed that debt cancellation should be
unconditional, taking into consideration the need for mobilizing more
resources for development

Therefore, the report fails to indicate the gaps in the way of dealing with the
global debt problems. It does not refer to the failure of real partnerships on
programs related to debts such as HIPCs. Moreover, it does not take account
of the long term advocacy being led by coalitions of CSOs regarding the
need for 100% cancellation of debts in many poor countries in order to make
the achievement of the MDGs possible. Accordingly, the positive role that
CSOs play in reflecting the needs of communities and their capacities, upon

     “Gleneagles: what really happened at the G8 Summit” (July 29th 2005), Oxfam Briefing Note
     See reference 10
  Bello, Walden and Guttal, Shalmali, (April 2005) “The Wolfensohn Era at the World Bank: a Decade of
Contradictions”, Focus on Trade #109

which sustainable debt relief and cancellation can be based, is ignored in the

II- 3. On Trade:

In paragraphs 55 and 56, the Secretary General‟s report addresses the issues
of trade. It is evident that trade has not been comprehensively and effectively
tackled in the report. The United Nations still has not provided a clear
definition of fair trade which works for the people and what it stands for in
comparison with free trade. In the latest G8 Summit, the language presented
in the communiqué on the ability of countries to decide their own reforms
was disappointing from a trade perspective, as it implicitly referred only to
African and Least Developed Countries (LDC), while leaving out other
developing countries14. The Secretary General‟s report proceeds in the same
direction while calling to successfully complete Doha negotiations by 2006.
However, it does not realize that effectively committing to the time of
ending the negotiations does not imply that all involved parties have
achieved a benefit for their development processes. In this matter, the report
fails to address the impact of the disadvantaged position of developing
countries under the current system of the WTO.

A real step forward in this area would necessitate a practical proposal with a
set timeframe and mechanisms that address the subsidization system of
developed countries, which impacts agriculture- the most important sector
for developing countries. Also, practical steps would be needed regarding
the implementation of special and differential treatment for developing
countries within multilateral and bilateral trade agreements. Moreover, the
report fails to address several dynamic trade-related issues, including the
global movement of financial assets. According to the latest statistics of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),
financial flows reached $400 billion from the South to the North in 2004,
while in 1994 the amount was limited to $20 billion. Such issues should be
addressed given that the flow of financial assets could represent lost
development engines in many developing countries.

While stressing the importance of committing to the negotiations within the
WTO system, the Secretary General‟s report did not give any indication on
the relevance of the UN Commission on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD) in pushing the multilateral trade negotiations towards fulfilling

     See reference 10

their development promise. In civil society‟s Forum declaration to
UNCTAD XI15, civil society groups called upon UNCTAD to “participate
actively in the creation and management of multilateral mechanisms…”.
They stated that “UNCTAD was created precisely to elaborate and promote
Southern development policies by creating a more equitable environment
and enabling international economic growth. It must retain and build on this
overarching mandate, to further the debate on how to deliver a global trade
system that benefits all people and protects the environment”16.

Within this context, no mention has been included on the needed reforms
and transparency in the international trade mechanisms, whether it is
bilateral, regional, or multilateral. It was expected that reference to a larger
role for UNCTAD and a more institutionalized role for relevant CSOs would
be core to the UN‟s discourse on partnership for better and fairer trade; that
which could serve the development policies of developing countries and not
vice versa.

Accordingly, the report highlights the areas on which global partnership is
needed, but fails to discuss the mechanisms in which this global partnership
is going to be achieved. In addition, none of the nine paragraphs of the
report that tackle global partnership refer to the needed roles of CSOs and
accountable businesses. It is worth stressing that partnership should lead to
changing the traditional donor-recipient relationship and enhancing country
ownership and equity between partners. Accordingly, a real partnership is a
country led one and could not be achieved without the three sectors;
government, civil society, and accountable private sector. While the report
does not present a scheme for real partnership in the three main areas: aid,
debt, and trade, one cannot but question the extent to which the UN has been
able to develop a comprehensive and effective vision for progress on global

  Civil Society Forum Declaration to UNCTAD XI, (12 June 2004) Eleventh session, São Paulo, 13–18
June 2004
  Civil Society Forum Declaration to UNCTAD XI, (12 June 2004) Eleventh session, São Paulo, 13–18
June 2004, paragraph 12, page 3

        III. Regarding the Current Conception and Mechanisms of
      Partnership; the Importance of Partnership between Civil Society
                          and the United Nations

III-1. A Look into the Cardoso Report Entitled “We the People: Civil
Society, the United Nations, and Global Governance”17

In the Cordoso report, the vision for a future conception of civil society and
its relation with the UN was laid out. In the words of Cardoso18, chair of the
panel that prepared the abovementioned report, collaboration between UN
and civil society is a necessity and not an option19; it is entrenched in Article
71 of the 1945 United Nations Charter20.

Accordingly, the UN needs to make full use of the capacities of the civil
society sector. Yet, the approach of the Cardoso report towards setting a
broader perspective on what civil society is implies several questions that
impact the core of future relations between civil society and the UN,
government, and the private sector. The report talks about the importance of
the UN‟s convening power, which is vital for enhancing partnerships among
various sectors. However, the approach and conceptions presented in the
report do not lead us to a vision of clearer relations between the three sectors
and accordingly to more effective and efficient mechanisms.

Primarily, it is important to realize that enhancing the relationship between
the UN and civil society ought to be a priority. Through this relation, a better

   “We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global governance”, report of the Panel of
Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations (11 June 2004), presented to the fifty-eighth
session on Strengthening of the United Nations system
  The Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations was appointed by the United
Nations Secretary General on February 2003. Mr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the former president of
Brazil, to chair it. The Panel also included Bagher Asadi (Islamic Republic of Iran), Manuel Castells
(Spain), Birgitta Dahl (Sweden), Peggy Dulany (United States of America), André Erdös (Hungary), Juan
Mayr (Colombia), Malini Mehra (India), Kumi Naidoo (South Africa), Mary Racelis (Philippines), Prakash
Ratilal (Mozambique) and Aminata Traoré (Mali).
  Speech of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Chair of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil
Society Relations in the informal session on the Cardoso report at the UN House in New York, available
online at
  The article 71 of the UN charter adopted in 1945 states that “The Economic and Social Council may
make suitable arrangements for consultations with non-governmental organizations which are concerned
with matters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organizations and,
where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations

and more balanced relation between civil society and governments as well as
civil society and the private sector can be achieved21. Accordingly, the UN
holds the challenge of working with civil society to develop a more adequate
environment for CSOs to develop such partnerships; one which will not
impact their neutrality, credibility, and transparency.

In this context, it is important to realize that specifically in countries where
spaces for democratic processes are still limited and where CSOs are faced
with an inadequate association law, the threat to their independent existence
is much higher. The UN, in its quest to develop the concept of effective and
needed partnerships, is thus required to address the impact of the current
undemocratic State processes which do not align with international
conventions on human rights, including the emerging unilateralism in global
affairs as well as some countries‟ undemocratic and suppressive practices
against civic engagement.

In setting the grounds for the thirty proposals it outlines, the Cardoso report
assimilates among civil society and the private sector, represented here in
the form of associations of businesses, local authorities, and
parliamentarians. Such an approach is worth reconsideration. For the
fundamental characteristics of NGOs referred to in Article 71 of the United
Nations charter include22:

           • Separation and independence from the structures and functions of
           • Aims and purposes that are not primarily commercial, or 'for profit'

The inclusion of civil society, profitable businesses, and parliamentarians
together under the Office of Constituency Engagement and Partnerships,
which is called for by proposal 24 of the Cardoso report, could lead to
increased confusion about NGOs and their Charter relationship to the UN23.

   It was noted in the comments of the Third World Network on the Cardoso report that: “…in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the distinction between private and public armies, between war and business, between
military and humanitarian efforts, have all been blurred…… Since the war on terror was declared this
autonomous space has come under attack as governments try to co-opt the humanitarian effort into the war
effort; threatening to cut off aid to groups that do not strictly follow the government agenda”.(TWN
analysis August 2004)
  Analysis of the Cardoso report by the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative
Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) (7 August 2004)
     See reference 21

It also opposes efforts to enhance the special role that non-governmental and
non-profitable entities can play with and within the UN system, towards
strengthening more “civic space in which ideas can be freely held and in
which law is paramount and assistance is rendered on the basis of needs and
nothing else”24.

III-1.a.           Partnership with the Private Sector:

Given the difference in the nature and mechanisms of their work and
engagement with society, there is a lack of trust between CSOs and the
private sector, which all UN proposals on partnership fails to address. CSOs
have had serious reservations about endorsing the proposal of incorporating
the Global Compact25 into the proposed UN Office of Constituency
Engagement and Partnerships. Several multinational companies have been
engaged in violations of human rights and environmental standards in many
parts of the World. When the negative impact of globalization is blamed on
big multi-national corporations26 a real partnership which is built on “shared
commitment by all stakeholders, participatory processes, and common
definition of tasks, professionalism, respect, and equity …” 27 is not very
feasible. For any kind of partnership should not avoid considering corporate
responsibility in dealing with aspects of social misconduct.

Going back to the WSSD in 2002, it was clearly noticed that “the most vocal
supporters of the partnership approach were generally corporations from
some of the most environmental and socially dubious industries - namely oil,
gas, chemicals, and mining”28. Partnership projects with NGOs and the UN
agencies are seen as means for cover up and for marketing industries as
socially responsible. This being said, till date the impact and effectiveness of
     The Cardoso Report on UN-Civil Society relations; A Third World Network Analysis (August 2004)
   The Global Compact is a direct initiative of the UN Secretary-General. In an address to the World
Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, United Nation Secretary-General Kofi Annan challenged business
leaders to join an international initiative – the Global Compact – that would bring companies together with
UN agencies, labour and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles. The Global
Compact‟s operational phase was launched at UN Headquarters in New York on 26 July 2000. The Global
Compact          portal       can          be       viewed       at      the       following       address:

  Delgado, Vicente (September-October 2004), “Too Close for Comfort: Should Civil Society and the
Global Compact Live Under the Same UN Roof?”, CIVICUS

   Secretariat‟s note on the highlights from the interactive discussion sessions, Commission on sustainable
Development -12, Partnerships Fair (April 2004)
   See reference 1

Type II partnerships between governments, UN, civil society, and the private
sector have not been assessed.

The relationship between these sectors, which was further proposed in the
Cardoso report, fails to clarify the kind of engagement it aims at. It also
creates a lot of tension by clustering civil society and private sector in one
group, which blemishes the image that civil society is built on; that of
defenders of human, social, environmental, economic, and cultural rights.
While civil society groups are committed to proving their accountability,
transparency, and legitimacy to the UN, there is an absence of any
regulations that requests of companies to present evidence of their
commitment to social responsibility. This adds to the complexities in the
relationship between CSOs and their proclaimed partners in the private
sector, especially larger multinationals which have often been related to
endeavors of social, environmental, and human misconduct.

It is therefore worth noting that the UN‟s initiative “Global Compact”,
should secure an efficient implementation of corporate social responsibility
in order to develop the relation and trust between CSOs and the private
sector. CSOs mistrust the commitment of corporations to human rights,
environmental sustainability, and social responsibility. Accordingly, the UN
ought to ask corporations to present social responsibility reports that address
their commitment to society. Moreover, public-private partnership should be
complemented by a partnership with civil society, as a prerequisite for the
implementation of national strategies.

It is worth mentioning in this regard that the report of the High Level Panel
on Threats, Challenges, and Change29 stated under the reform of the Security
Council that “reforms should, in honoring Article 23 of the Charter of the
United Nations, increase the involvement in decision-making of those who
contribute most to the United Nations financially, militarily, and
diplomatically…..”. This proposition was completely adopted by the
Secretary General in his report to the upcoming General Assembly (GA). In
this context, and given the growing support of the private sector‟s role
within the UN‟s processes, there is a threat that this will eventually mean a
greater influence of huge multinationals on policy making within the
Security Council. If not directly, then through the financial contributions of
these companies to their states, intervention into the Security Council‟s

  “A more secure world: our shared responsibility”, Report of the United Nation Secretary General High
Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, available online at,
presented to the United Nations Fifty-ninth session, 2 December 2004

affairs could be achieved. This is of relevance given that from the start, the
relationship of the UN with the private sector, reflected by the Global
Compact initiative, was built on the financial contributions of the private
sector. This in turn could have serious implications on the kind and balance
of partnership being currently promoted by the UN.

III-1.b.     Partnership with Parliamentarians:

The Inter-Parliamentary Union has been already set in place to play the role
of systematically engaging parliamentarians and sensitizing them to global
issues. The new proposition for partnership with parliamentarians in the
Cardoso report extends the current structure, and proposes a four-point
strategy which includes:

   • Taking UN issues to national parliaments more systematically
   • Ensuring that parliamentarians coming to UN events have more
     strategic roles at those events
   • Linking parliaments themselves with the international deliberative
   • Providing an institutional home in the UN to engage parliamentarians

Yet, it is worth noting that the role of parliamentarians is to monitor the
executive body and processes at the national level, and therefore, the
participation of parliamentarians in the multilateral decision-making process
could affect and ultimately limit their national monitoring role. Indeed, the
Cardoso report propositions can benefit in enhancing the motto of “thinking
locally, acting globally”, on which the team of eminent persons have based
their approach. However, there is a real threat to be taken into consideration;
when taking part in forming policies at the global level, parliamentarians
could be caught up in the political trade-offs that influence the current
processes of global decision making. This could limit the effectiveness of
their role at the national levels and their neutrality on policy making.

III-2. The Secretary General’s Report “In Larger Freedom; Towards
Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security”, and its Implications
on the Understanding of Partnership

Based on outcomes of all the UN Summits during the nineties and the
review of the five years since the launch of the MDGs in the year 2000, the
Secretary General‟s report presented an indispensable link between
development, human rights, peace and security, as well as the reform of the

UN. Accordingly, the global issues we face today cannot be the
responsibility of officials alone, whether elected or assigned. Individuals and
CSOs have an essential role in the decision-making process. Moreover,
given this link, partnership with civil society cannot be limited to one of the
above mentioned fields. To be comprehensive and effective, partnership
should be developed on all interlinked dimensions.

Here from, reforms of the bodies and mechanisms through which partnership
of civil society and the UN is administered are definitely needed in order to
enhance this partnership. Reforms need to address means to overcome the
limited role that civil society plays with the UN on issues of peace and
security, compared to the role they play on issues of development and
human rights.

These reforms should target a partnership where objectives and targets are
clearly defined. Partnership should mainly target the challenges of
sustainable human development within a framework of comprehensive
vision and strategies, and thus should have clear implementation strategies
In order to attain its objectives, partnership can effectively exist only if it is
between equal partners, whose partnership extend in policy-making, setting
mechanisms, implementation, as well as assessment and evaluation. In this
regards, a strong and independent civil society is a vital pillar of a successful
and comprehensive partnership plan.

III-2.a.     On Development:

The MDGs are leading development processes in the world today. The 60 th
GA of the UN will look into the achievements on the MDGs‟ tracks since
five years.

On one hand, when looking into how the Secretary General‟s report tackled
development and partnership, we realize that the role of the private sector
was overemphasized in sections compared to that of CSOs.

Paragraph 32 of the report stated that “each developing country has primary
responsibility for its own development —strengthening governance,
combating corruption and putting in place the policies and investments to
drive private sector- led growth…” Also, paragraph 37 similarly stated that
“without dynamic, growth-oriented economic policies supporting a healthy
private sector capable of generating jobs, income and tax revenues over
time, sustainable economic growth will not be achieved….”.

This approach could be a step towards limiting the scope of the public
sector‟s role, especially that the report goes on with discussing needed
national investment and policy strategies in seven clusters- gender, equality,
rural development, urban development, health systems, education, and
science and technology- based on private-sector led growth. Accordingly, it
is of high importance to redefine the commitment of the public sector
regarding basic services such as education as well as the processes of
investing in human resources.

On the other hand, the role of civil society has been described as critical in
the implementation process, delivering of services, and mobilizing of
grassroots on accountability issues. This description is limited to the
implementation phase and does not reflect the needed full partnership and
thus equality of all groups on various levels of policy making,
implementation, and assessment.

In the same direction, paragraph 38 dedicated to describing the envisioned
role of civil society, talks about the role of CSOs in service delivery and in
advocacy and lobbying by mobilizing grassroots and interest groups, and at
the international level in exerting pressure and lobbing on core issues30.

Yet, unlike what was recommended in regards to the private sectors‟ role,
the report does not recommend that the government open more space for
civil society groups to exercise a real partnership role with other sectors.
Even if CSOs are involved on these various levels in some countries, their
involvement at the policy making level will not be effective except if the
government makes available enough space for their voices to be heard, in a
consistent and institutionalized manner and not merely on occasions. Not
just on development and human rights issues, but also on political and
security issues, CSOs involved in advocacy and lobbying could have a
critical role in complementing the efforts of their respective states.

  In the report of the secretary general, paragraph 38 stated that “Civil society organizations have a critical
role to play in driving this implementation process forward to “make poverty history”. Not only is civil
society an indispensable partner in delivering services to the poor at the scope required by the Millennium
development Goals but it can also catalyze action within countries on pressing development concerns,
mobilizing broad-based movements and creating grass-roots pressure to hold leaders accountable for their
commitments. Internationally, some civil society organizations can help create or galvanize global
partnerships on specific issues or draw attention to the plight of indigenous peoples and other marginalized
groups, while others can work to share best practices across countries through community exchanges and
providing technical support and advice to Governments”.

Moreover, the eighth goal of the MDGs, which is key among other goals,
given that it tackles global partnership as prerequisite for the realization of
the millennium challenges, is still vague in its presentation. Goal number
eight revolves around the global economic system and trade relations,
control of mechanisms for international exchange, job creation and
unemployment problems, as well as aid and debt, among other issues. As
discussed in section II of this paper, the Secretary General‟s report tried to
set medium-term mechanisms to address those issues. Long has been the
debate around these issues in various literatures; yet, till now, no practical
mechanisms has been set in place for a comprehensive and effective
partnership between government, international institutions, civil society, and
the private sector.

III-2.b.          On Human Rights:

Although CSOs have been relatively more active within the UN‟s human
rights processes than in other areas, the current structure of human rights
follow-up needs a lot of scrutiny31. Principle weaknesses in the processes of
the UN Commission on Human Rights result from the violations of human
rights that the Commissions‟ own members commit.

In light of this, the UN report of the High Level Panel on Threats,
Challenges, and Change tackles the criteria of membership in the
commission, calling for its expansion to a Human Rights Council including
all 191 members of the UN. However, it is evident that such a
recommendation will lead to weakening the focus of the Commission
instead of enhancing and strengthening its mechanisms of cooperation. Also,
this recommendation does not serve the betterment of civil society‟s role
with the Commission, since it could lead to a similar problem of inefficiency
that the GA faces while trying to engage with non-state members32, in

   As highlighted by Amnesty International, the “High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change”
noted that the 2% which the UN Budget allocates to its human rights program contradicts the UN Charter's
recognition that human rights are a principal purpose of the UN”. (Amnesty International Public statement,
News Service No: 311, 2 December 2004)

   As stated by the Human Rights Watch, “this recommendation is inconsistent with the report‟s own
analysis. In a section on the General Assembly, the only U.N. body with universal membership so far, the
report states that the Assembly has lost its focus and recommends that it establishes “smaller, more tightly
focused committees”. (Human Rights Watch Statement, “U.N.: Good Diagnosis, but Poor Prescription;
More Needed to Restore Legitimacy of Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, December 2, 2004)


addition to inefficiency of the consultative status given to CSOs with the
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In general, the approach and proposals, presented under section IV of the
Secretary General‟s report entitled “Freedom to Live in Dignity”, are not
enough to guarantee the respect of human rights. The Secretary General says
that respect of human rights will preserve our moral and ethical positions
and commitments, explaining in paragraph 140 that: “Strategies based on
the protection of human rights are vital for both our moral standing and the
practical effectiveness of our actions”. Accordingly, the Secretary General
asks for consideration of human rights while he does not talk about the need
to commit to human rights.

However, the level of commitment cannot be merely an ethical issue but
should be of legal – practical dimensions, including the ratification of
the conventions and the modification of national laws and regulations
accordingly, thus meeting the standards set by the international laws
and conventions. Through making commitment a legal process, the
mechanisms for partnership between various stakeholders, including human
rights country teams and involved CSOs is automatically strengthened. This
reassurance is the first step towards reforming this aspect of the UN‟s work
and harmonizing guidelines on all treaties.

Thus, the partnership process concerning human rights rests mainly on their
actual implementation as the principle purpose of the UN. This could require
a major reform in the reporting procedures, by which the parallel reports
presented by CSOs on national human rights conditions become obligatory.
Moreover, a set of human rights criteria should be applied to the members of
the Commission on Human Rights, which ought to be transformed into a
mixed commission where CSOs have an institutionalized role. Civil
society‟s membership would be led by accredited civil society groups within
the UN system, and covers the same countries which are members of the

III-2.c.    On Peace and Security:

The Secretary General‟s report calls the UN for the adoption of
responsibility for protection and security. Paragraph 135 of the report states
that: “The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty
and more recently the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and

Change…endorsed what they described as an emerging norm that there is a
collective responsibility to protect”33.

However, the mechanisms and measures for implementing such a
responsibility and the role of the Security Council in such processes are not
clear, especially under the impact of the veto power, double standards, and
balances of political powers. In addition, the report talks about the
International Criminal Court in adjudicating disputes among states to
preserve peace. Yet, experiences of special courts for Yugoslavia and
Rwanda highlight the challenge between international and national laws,
which has not been addressed by the report.

In the section on Freedom from Fear, only one mention of a possible role of
civil society has been included under the section on “Preventing
Catastrophic Terrorism”, which is stated in paragraph 8834. This reflects a
lack of vision on partnership with CSOs regarding peace and security issues,
which is essential for a comprehensive vision of partnership on the
interlinked factors of development, human rights, and peace and security.

The absence of adequate consideration of mechanisms for civil society‟s role
on issues of peace and security could lead to a situation where CSOs play
the role of agents in the fight against terrorists and not partners in the
struggle to end the social and economic reasons that lie at the roots of
emerging terrorist groups. Under these circumstances and in the absence of a
clear definition of terrorism, which realizes the rights of people to self
determination and to organize resistance against occupation, the Secretary
General‟s call upon civil society groups could lead to internal destabilization
and thus threatens their role in general.

It is worth noting that the interlink between development, human rights,
peace and security should not lead to an inadequate focus on the bi-products
of the lack of sustainable development, respect of human rights, and human
security. Accordingly, terrorism, which is the bi-product of numerous ills in
society, should not be the focus. But, the achievement of sustainable human

  United Nations Secretary General‟s report “In Larger Freedom, Towards Development, Human Rights,
Peace and Security”, paragraph 135, page 35 of the report
   Paragraph 88 of the Secretary General‟s report in page 26 states that “the strategy against terrorism must
be comprehensive and should be based on five pillars: it must aim at dissuading people from resorting to
terrorism or supporting it; it must deny terrorists access to funds and materials; it must deter States from
sponsoring terrorism; it must develop State capacity to defeat terrorism; and it must defend human rights. I
urge Member States and civil society organizations everywhere to join in that strategy”

development and security, within a system based on human rights should be
the focus of partnerships. Everything else, including a clear definition of
terrorism and the way to struggle against it should represent a support to
these processes.

The future visions on peace and security issues are further developed
through tackling reforms of the Security Council. The Security Council
represents the most politicized organ of the UN and it is the main decision-
making body regarding peace and security issues, as referenced in section V
and VI of the UN‟s Charter. It is also the most complex entity in terms of
trying to achieve the „think locally act globally‟ approach, which was
recommended by the Panel on the UN-Civil Society relations. The Cardoso
report discusses means of enhancing civil society engagement with the
Security Council.35 Accordingly, it calls for strengthening dialogue with
civil society, improving the planning and effectiveness of the Arria formula
meetings by lengthening lead times and covering travel costs to increase the
participation of actors from the field, ensuring that the Security Council field
missions meet regularly with appropriate local civil society leaders,
international humanitarian NGOs and perhaps others, such as business
leaders, installing an experimental series of Security Council seminars to
discuss issues of emerging importance to the Council serviced by the
Secretariat, and convening independent commissions of inquiry after
Council mandated operations.

Yet, in the report on the Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change,
discussion of the Security Council reform included a fast and unclear
mention in paragraph 260 of the role of civil society, in the form of a
“welcome for greater civil society engagement in the work of the Security
Council”. The report did not endorse any of the mechanisms presented by
the Cardoso report nor did it introduce new mechanisms of implementation
of such steps. As for the Secretary General‟s report, it came to endorse all
what the Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change introduced regarding the
reform of the Security Council, but dropped the invitation for civil society

This further reflects the lack of commitment to enhance partnership with
CSOs on issues of peace and security. It thus indicates a gap in the

  Paragraph 96 in page 45 of the Cardoso report states that “given the nature of the new threats facing the
world and necessitating considerable on-the-ground knowledge, new tools, new skills in social and cultural
analysis and the active involvement of communities and their leaders”

understanding of the nature of threats the world faces today, which
necessitates a consideration of the voices of CSOs and what they represent.

                     IV. Where is Partnership for the Arab Region?

The Arab Region is witnessing an increase in the number of national and
regional civil society groups, including networks, organizations, and
platforms. This is due to the rise of political, economic, social, and cultural
challenges, both at the national and regional levels. Consequently, new
dynamics for facing the negative impacts of globalization and for enhancing
the adequate integration in the global system are emerging. Yet, developing
partnerships should take into consideration several factors regarding the
nature and current role of CSOs in various Arab countries.

The concept of charity within Arab culture and religions has had a central
influence on the emergence of civil society activities and structures. Services
to special social cases such as orphans, people with disability, the poor, and
many other hardship cases are mainly offered by social welfare associations
affiliated to religious institutions. Both Islamic and Christian entities36
encourage welfare activities. Moreover, such kinds of institutions attain a
high level of trust, and consequently support from the public, given their
religious affiliations. Despite the important role that charity-based
organizations play in the service provision sector, their role does not extend
to advocacy and policy-influencing activities. Accordingly, partnerships
fostered by these organizations are often developed with other service
provision organizations, and are often limited within the scope to a specific

In countries that experienced war and internal conflicts, such as Lebanon
and Palestine, CSOs have been focused on emergency and relief activities.
Given the partial or complete absence of government structures and related
social services in periods of conflict, CSOs, specifically NGOs, have had a
major role in providing such kinds of services. Under such conditions,
NGOs were an essential factor in sustaining the daily lives and needs of the
citizens and had an essential role in providing humanitarian aid and medical
services. They showed specialization in several areas, such as social and
human development, health, education, rural development, and human
rights. Both Palestinian and Lebanese NGOs provided service delivery,
networking, mobilization, and creation of “support systems” of various
kinds, ranging from day-care centers to income-generating projects.
However, in the post-conflict period, CSOs in both countries faced a big
challenge in moving from purely humanitarian and relief activities to a more

     This situation applies especially to Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Egypt

comprehensive role that tackles service provision, capacity building, as well
as advocacy and lobbying on policy-making processes.

The challenges of human development in the world today necessitates the
formulation of comprehensive development approaches that can target and
influence the formation of a political will, through national and/or regional
strategies and programs based on the solid understanding of partnership.
Yet, the conditions for such an approach are still incomplete in the Arab
region. Given the impact of the abovementioned realities on the emergence
of civil society, the role of this sector remains incomplete, whereby it lacks
advocacy capacities and influence on national policies and strategies.

IV-1. Categories of the Arab Countries and Civil Society Prospects in

When looking into the current and prospective partnerships between civil
society organizations and the public sector, it should be considered that each
of the Arab countries has different experiences, a different history, different
priorities, different approaches, and different working conditions.
Accordingly, the countries of the Arab region could be divided into four
main categories given the enabling environment and the roles CSOs play in

A first category covers countries where CSOs are increasingly becoming
partners in some social fields.

These countries are either democratic systems or are emerging democracies.
Partnerships are often limited to social services such as education, health and
primary health care, as well as environmental programs. In addition
partnerships are emerging in areas of poverty alleviation, community
development, particularly in the rural areas, and popular education. In some
of the these countries, special consultative councils were established such as
the Economic and Social Council in Lebanon to serve as an area for
consultation and exchange between the various civil society groups (NGOs,
trade unions, academia, social movements, private and business sectors,
media, and experts). However, these councils remained formal and
inefficient in most of the cases.

In several other emerging democracies, CSOs have been nominated in public
sector committees for reform and administrative development. In addition,
human rights organizations have been actively defending political,

economic, social, and cultural rights. They are active in protecting the rights
of vulnerable groups such as women, children, elderly, and people with
special needs. Accordingly, some Arab NGOs have been taking an effective
part in the annual meetings of the High Commission on Human Rights in the
UN headquarters in Geneva. They present the Commission with alternative
reports on issues of democracy, human rights, and development, but mainly
on foreign occupation and the right to self-determination.

Sometimes, association laws in these countries are adequate and protective
of CSOs, yet governments could periodically disrupt the proper
implementation of these laws. This reflects the lack of a stable relationship
between civil society and government and thus the unavailability of full
acceptance of the role of civil society from the government.

A second category covers countries where the dominance of the state is still
very strong, although some are currently witnessing a period of transition. In
these countries, CSOs exist and are developing; however partnership is very
limited with their governments whereby often there exists a confrontational
relationship between the two sectors.

Some of these countries have a very active civil society. But at the same
time, its impact is not strong and efficient enough in order to introduce
changes at the political level and in the socio-economic policies, because the
system is highly centralized and has a strong control over society. These
conditions could sometimes lead to an oppressive environment and offensive
practices that limit civil societies‟ work, especially that of human rights

A third category covers the countries where totalitarian regimes are in
power. Under such regimes CSOs are perceived as a threat to government‟s
control over society. Also, there is a lack of any space for civil society to be
organized independently, given that emergency laws/ Marshal Laws restrict
the formation of such associations. These countries have some of the
weakest civil society groups and the most hostile environments to operate in.
Also, their governments often tend to create groups that operate as non-
governmental organizations, which are the creation of the state and the
implementers of its policies.

A fourth category covers special cases of countries in conflict. These

- Palestine, which has a very strong civil society that represents solid
  grounds for building partnerships. For example, the Palestinian
  Agricultural relief Committees (PARC) and the Ministry of
  Agriculture have joined efforts to build the capacities of the
  employees and workers in the sector. CSOs in Palestine are well-
  organized and they have built coalitions based on clear and strong
  objectives, as well as well-defined strategies and well-developed
  implementing bodies. Palestinian civil society groups work in
  numerous fields, often trying to contribute to alleviating the impact of
  the occupation. During the peace process, Palestinian civil society
  groups found themselves competing with the Palestinian Authority as
  it tried to co-opt CSOs while trying to establish government services.
  But with the outbreak of the second Intifada, they resumed their
  former role.

- Sudan, which has a strong civil society that is active in poverty
  eradication, women empowerment, as well as the national
  reconciliation process and peace building. The Sudanese civil society
  realizes the importance of the role they should play in supporting
  national unity, building democracy, and enhancing good governance
  practices, as well as in fighting trends towards cocooning within
  political and tribal affiliations. Yet, Sudanese CSOs face critical
  financial problems in the post-war period, given the high needs in the
  process of rebuilding the country and resettling refugees in their lands.
  They also face the complexities of tribal, ethnic, and geographical
  affiliations of people in Sudan, which could often be a barrier to
  fostering more coordination and eventually partnerships Moreover,
  Sudanese CSOs face some tension with the government regarding an
  adequate legal framework that could allow them to play the needed
  role in the post-war period.

- Iraq, which has an emerging civil society, whose role is still not very
  well defined given the chaotic living conditions and situation in the
  country. Currently, the status of civil society in Iraq presents one of
  the major challenges for civil society in the Arab region. There is a
  tremendous need for investing in building a civil and democratic
  society in Iraq, which would be a precondition for building a strong
  national government. The best way, and maybe the unique way to end
  the foreign occupation and to conserve the Iraqi national unity is to
  invest in building a strong and capable civil society and civic
  movements. Although human resources in Iraq are highly qualified,

           there is a need to contribute to the capacity building of civil society
           structures and institutions after decades of totalitarian regimes and
           deprivation from democracy and human rights.

           Iraqi CSOs could play a major role in healing social wounds through
           networking and learning from each other, especially since, well before
           the occupation, many NGOs in Northern Iraq had acquired significant
           experience in various fields like healthcare, education, gender,
           emergency and relief, post conflict reconstruction, and human rights.
           Thus, Iraqi CSOs ought to assess their needs and to build their
           capacities, so they would lead the process of development in Iraq.

Yet, in general there is a trend of change in the Arab region as a whole. Even
the governments themselves are feeling that there is a need to change, taking
into consideration the recent meetings on democracy in Sana‟a - Yemen37
and in Alexandria - Egypt38 as positive signs. It is inevitable that a strong
partnership with governments is needed when civil society seeks
participation in decision-making, in the implementation of taken decisions,
and in the evaluation of policy implementation. However, real partnership is
based on equal relations, mutual respect, and autonomy. In reference to the
Arab Human Development Report 200239, the main challenges facing
development, besides gender inequality and the knowledge gap, are freedom
and democracy, particularly freedom of association, freedom of political
organizations, and freedom of expression. Therefore, real partnership based
on equal relations, mutual respect, and autonomy cannot be achieved unless
we witness real political changes towards more democratic regimes, more
respect of human rights, and more spaces for various social actors to voice
out their concerns.

  The Sana‟a declaration is the result of an international governmental meeting on democracy held in
January 2003.
     The Alexandria declaration is the result of a civil society meeting held in the bibliotheca of Alexandria
  The Arab Human Development Report is produced by the United Nations Development Program and
prepared by well accredited academicians and civil society personnel from the Arab region. The report is
available online at: or

IV-2. The Implications of the Secretary General’s Report on
Terrorism, Reforms and Democracy, Development, Sanctions and
Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Technical and Financial Capacities
of CSOs

In the Arab region, the need for partnership between governments, the UN,
and civil society is very strong; however, the ability to build this partnership
is very weak. In the context of the interlinked issues laid out by the UN‟s
Secretary General in his report to the GA, the main concerns for civil society
organizations in the Arab region, while considering the attempt to build
national, regional, as well as global partnerships, abide in several factors

V-2.a.       Terrorism, Occupation, and Conflicts

The Arab region has been caught up in challenges of foreign occupation and
conflict for more than fifty years, most notably the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict and the war on and occupation of Iraq. The impact of these conflicts
was never country specific, but impacted the region as a whole. In addition
to many internal conflicts where foreign interferences were obvious such as
in Lebanon, Sudan, and also in Kuwait, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria
and many other countries, Arab governments have often resisted change
under the claim that the challenge of occupation and foreign intervention in
the region necessitates the state to have a strong control over society and
people‟s association.

Currently, the Arab region faces the challenge of terrorism, not only as a
target of several terrorist attacks in many countries, but also because it holds
the blame of being the main origin of terrorist groups in the world today.
These issues represent main challenges for all civil society groups and
individuals in the Arab region; as they represented a determinant of their
past will as well represent a determinant of their future.

Given the new approach of interlinking development, human rights, and
peace and security together as indivisible challenges, civil society in the
Arab region was positively looking towards a real global partnership for
addressing these issues collectively and fairly. Yet, several questionable
areas in the latest report of the Secretary General in regards to these issues
could represent a hinder for any prospects in this area.

First of all, the report represents a bias in addressing the threats facing the
world today through stressing the impact of threats on specific regions in
spite of its global nature. In paragraph 80 of the report, it is stated that: “In
our globalized world, the threats we face are interconnected…A nuclear
terrorist attack on the United States or Europe would have devastating
effects on the whole world…”. This paragraph solely refers to the US and
Europe with no reference or consideration to other countries or regions. This
ambiguity can lead to a situation where threats are only treated when they
are directed to the super powers and thus impact their interests regardless of
their effect on other countries.

Such bias is also clear in the Middle East region; for example Israel is given
the right to own weapons of mass destruction while all other countries are
fought against due to claims of owning such weapons. This exists despite the
fact that all the countries in the region are threatened by the overall situation.
Moreover Paragraph 91 states that: “It is time to set aside debates on so-
called “State terrorism”. The use of force by States is already thoroughly
regulated under international law. …”. This approach leads to an inability
to take action against states such as Israel, which still do not abide by these

Moreover, not having a clear understanding and definition of terrorism and
the factors that breed such trends leads to a mistreatment of this threat. It is
worth noting that today, terrorism‟s definition is set through the
understanding that the super powers are advocating for, while all other forms
of terrorism are disregarded, including terrorism of the state. The latter do
not fall under the adopted definition and understanding because they do not
threaten the interests of the super powers. Despite the highly complicated
task to define terrorism due to the diverse approaches, a definition of
terrorism and terrorists remains a baseline for any efforts invested in dealing
with the issue of terrorism and its effects on world security. In this regards,
the UN should be the reference to elaborate a definition reflecting the
interests of all member states, and not only specific interests.

Paragraph 90 of the Secretary General‟s report states that: “… the moral
authority of the United Nations and its strength in condemning terrorism
have been hampered by the inability of Member States to agree on a
comprehensive convention that includes a definition”. Moreover, the report
of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change clearly states in
paragraph 160 that: “The search for an agreed definition usually stumbles
on two issues; the first is the argument that any definition should included

State’s use of armed forces against civilians…..the second objection is that
people’s under foreign occupation have a right to resistance and a definition
of terrorism should not override this right………”. The report explains here
that: “The central point is that there is nothing in the fact of occupation that
justifies the targeting and killing of civilians”. Accordingly, it is important
to stress the vitality and urgency of reaching a clear and well stated
definition of terrorism, in which there is a clear reference to people‟s right to
self-determination and to organizing resistance against foreign occupation.

Within the existing and possible double standards, resulting mistrust could
form a real barrier for enhanced relations between CSOs from the Arab
region and various UN agencies. This would limit the possibility of a
convening role for the UN between CSOs and governments in the region.

IV-2.b.       Reforms and Democracy

Reforms and democratic processes are a priority on the agendas of Arab
States. Several developments have been taking place in the region, among
which are the participation of Kuwaiti women in voting, the organization of
municipality elections in Saudi Arabia, the elaboration of a new constitution
in Qatar, the modification of the electoral law in Egypt, as well as the
issuing of the Arab League that convened in Tunisia on reforms and
democracy. These steps ought to be supported and internally pushed by the
UN structures.

Regarding issues of democracy, the UN‟s report stresses the Secretary
General‟s efforts to make the UN activities more coherent and coordinated.
This was reflected for example in linking activities of the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) and the Electoral Assistance Department.
Accordingly, the Secretary General recommends that the UN should not
limit its efforts to setting standards and criteria, but it should move towards
supporting its member countries in enhancing internal democratic processes.
Here lies an unanswered question on the role of the UN in protecting citizens
against states that refuse to respect citizens‟ rights. It highlights the debates
on reforms and democratization in the Arab region and the conflicts between
external dynamics and pressures on one hand and internal processes on the

Moreover, the ambiguity regarding mechanisms for implementing
international laws at the national levels and achieving a real, but not a
contested role for the UN in national processes of democratic change could

weaken the role of CSOs in such process. CSOs, whose role is referenced in
the international conventions of human rights, will lack a supportive role
from the UN, especially in countries where they still struggle for an adequate
operating environment and association law.

IV-2.c.      Development as a Priority

When it comes to sustainable development, Arab states often lack a concrete
agenda defining clearly set priorities. Accordingly, development issues have
not been a priority on the agenda of Arab governments, in comparison to
other national issues such as sovereignty, independence, occupation, and
instability. CSOs struggle to put development issues on the official agenda.
This reality has a significant impact on the ability to find common grounds
between agendas of states and that of civil society. Accordingly,
partnerships on development issues are hard to develop.

Furthermore, development policies have often been overshadowed by the
complex political dynamics that the region faces. Arab countries have been
long involved with national liberation agendas and regional anti neo-colonial
policies, while marginalizing the need for national development agendas
based on local needs, specifics, and priorities. Arab leaders and decision-
makers did not consider that strengthening democratic processes and
sustainable development policies at a local level would enhance and support
the sovereignty of the Arab States at the regional and international levels.
The Arab region does contain huge resources that are supposed to be the
wheel for development, however regional and national conflicts have made
these resources useless. In this context, and with the continuing of the
Palestinian- Israeli conflict and the occupation of Iraq, most Arab states have
reached a stagnant and deteriorated situation where civil society is controlled
and weak, human development indicators are low, and trends are negative.

Moreover, while concentrating on issues of reforms and regional threats,
Arab States have had limited capacities dedicated to issues of development.
Accordingly, the weakness of the public sector‟s role often led to a lack of
solid foundations for partnership. In spite of this, States also tend to set a
limit on the role of CSOs, which struggle for development at the local and
national levels. In many countries, CSOs do not enjoy the simple right to
exist, where the freedom of association is a lacking concept. They are not yet
recognized as legitimate partners for social change and progress towards
sustainable development and they often face pressures and obstacles from
the government. Given the limitations on freedom of association and the

lack of democratic practices, CSOs find themselves fighting for their right to
exist and for the defense of basic human rights, instead of participating in
achieving progress at the development front.

Regarding the processes of the MDGs, most reports have stressed that a
successful campaign requires strong and consolidated partnerships,
coherence of efforts and sharing of information. Yet, in the Arab countries, it
is clear that the relationship and coordination described above has not been
developed. For example, in several Arab countries, the government has been
leading the processes of preparing MDGs reports‟ (MDGRs) in close
coordination with the UN agencies, mainly the UNDP. In others, the
government‟s role was relatively limited and the UN was leading the
process. The exclusion of both CSOs as well as the business sector from the
preparations of the MDGRs in most Arab countries is a clear indicator that
the relationships between the two sectors and Arab governments have not
been enhanced within the campaign.

Besides the failure of governments and UN agencies to enhance the
processes of partnership with civil society on the MDGs, it is worth realizing
that CSOs should consider whether they have been able to successfully shift
from the raising awareness phase to the phase of implementing practical
steps that could lead to real change in people‟s living conditions. Real
partnership would necessitate that CSOs be partners at all levels, including
policy formulation and evaluation. Arab CSOs ought to realize that the
MDGs can serve as an effective tool for an advocacy campaign. Moreover,
the MDG global campaign can serve as an important opportunity in order to
elaborate an advocacy agenda with defined objectives and targets, while
taking advantage of the commitment of their governments, the international
support, and the umbrella provided by the global MDGs campaign.
Therefore, the UN‟s global MDGs campaign should consider this very
important dimension and act in order to enhance its outreach and support of
CSOs in the developing countries and specifically in the Arab region.

It is worth mentioning that the three main pillars, trade, aid and debts, which
are mentioned in the Secretary General‟s report under global partnership and
contained in goal number eight of the MDGs, are used in the Arab region to
exercise pressures on Arab regimes towards implementing political
commitments favoring foreign priorities rather then local and regional needs.

It is also obvious that multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations are
accompanied with political pressure. The same process can be witnessed

regarding foreign investment, foreign aids, official development aid, and
debt relief. This creates additional internal tension and instability, as well as
inconsistency in setting development policies, which thus weakens CSOs
and all potentials for partnership and progress.

IV-2.d.       Sanctions and Nuclear Weapons

The report of the Panel on Challenges, Threats, and Change mentions that
one of the resorts before a military intervention is sanctions; sanctions were
used as a tool against Sudan, Libya and Iraq. It was shown in practice that
the results of implementing sanctions did not yield the expected outcomes.
However, it increased the inequalities within society and was diverted to a
tool that contributed to increasing social disparities and degradation of
socio-economic conditions. Accordingly, sanctions often became means
through which CSOs were weakened and their role oppressed.

Therefore, there is an essential need to evaluate these experiences from
which lessons should be taken. The role of CSOs and their partnership with
governments and United Nations agencies takes on a significant dimension.
CSOs can assess the real social and economic impact of sanctions on local
communities given their day to day role at that level. Through an organized
and institutionalized involvement for civil society with the UN, the
implementation process of sanctions can be developed to serve its real goals,
without negatively impacting the local vulnerable social groups.

IV-2.e.    Technical and Financial Capacities of Civil Society

A real partnership includes participation in the decision-making phase, the
implementation phase, as well as the monitoring, evaluation, and assessment
phase. This necessitates a high level of organization, of professionalism, and
of know-how among CSOs. Most of Arab CSOs are more service providers
than advocates. Moreover their role in capacity building and in awareness
raising is very limited. They fail to organize in the form of successful social
movements capable of influencing the political and social decision making
in the Arab countries.

The dominant charitable concept in the Arab region tends primarily towards
partnerships in service provision and not in the whole process of change that
extends beyond services. In the area of reforms and democratic change,
which are a top priority on the agenda of Arab states nowadays, much efforts

and advocacy have been invested and several changes have started taking
place in many of these countries. CSOs, especially human rights
organizations, have concentrated their efforts on these areas and advocated
for the respect of political and civic rights. However, sustainable reform
cannot be achieved without tackling the economic, social, as well as cultural
realities. CSOs in the Arab region still lack enough consideration of
economic, social, and cultural rights. Organizations often concentrate on the
political rights and the reforms needed in this area while not highlighting the
needed economic and social reform and issues of good governance and their
core link to the success of reform in general.

Thus, CSOs in the Arab region are leading a struggle in two main directions;

   - The first one is their need to develop advocacy strategies enabling
     them to improve their role and effectiveness and their impact on the
     policy-making level in the national context. This is due to the fact that
     they were not able to achieve the change in their role from service
     providers to advocacy agents

   - The second one is their struggle for their right to exist and for their
     freedom, which is restricted by the regimes that are currently in power
     in most of the Arab states

Therefore, when talking about national and regional campaigns and
partnerships, one should stress on the need to empower CSOs by creating the
enabling environment and the adequate legal framework and to enable them
to increase their influence at the policy-making level.

  V. Partnership Examples from the Arab Region; what is ANND
                     Doing in this Regards?

In its quest to contribute towards enhancing capacities of Arab civil
society in facing the challenges highlighted above, ANND developed
partnerships with various UN agencies both at the regional and the
national levels. These partnership initiatives include programs and efforts
that tackle the challenges of foreign occupations in Palestine and Iraq,
and those in areas of human sustainable development, trade issues,
human rights and democratic changes.

Furthermore, ANND seeks to reach out with the voices of Arab civil
society to be heard at various international fora.

Following are some examples of partnerships between ANND, the UN,
and other actors:

V-1. Organizing regional and national preparations for several UN
Summits and events, including:

- Organizing several capacity building and awareness raising
  workshops and seminars on global issues particularly trade,
  development, democracy, environmental sustainability, …

- Enhancing the participation of Arab CSOs in the UN international
  summits and conferences by elaborating regional position papers and
  financially supporting their participation in the meetings of the
  preparatory committees and the summits. Accordingly, ANND
  actively participated in the regional preparations and in the parallel
  civil society forum to the WSSD+5 (Geneva 2000), the Financing for
  Development (Monterrey 2002), and the WSSD held in Johannesburg
  in 2002. Recently, ANND had been actively working with the Arab
  Civil Society Caucus following the preparations of the World Summit
  on Information Society (WSIS).

V-2. Monitoring and advocating the implementation of the
commitments resulting from the UN summits:

- ANND is the regional coordinator of the Social Watch which issues

   an annual report to monitor the governments‟ implementation of the
   commitments resulting from various UN summits, especially those
   related to social development and gender issues. In this context,
   ANND is consistently keen to take part in the global annual reporting
   of the Social watch, by ensuring that six to eight annual national
   reports and one regional thematic report from the Arab region are

- Closely working with the UN agencies on the mobilization of Arab
  civil society around the MDGs. Here, it is worth noting that ANND is
  the regional focal point for the global millennium campaign and the
  Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP).

- ANND is closely working with UNDP for the roll out of a national
  plan on the MDGs and its implementation in Lebanon. ANND is also
  involved in the elaboration of a national strategy for poverty
  eradication in coordination with the government and many local

V-3. Enhancing coordination to support efforts for democracy and
good governance:

- ANND is actively participating in the efforts that UNDP and the
  Program of Governance in the Arab Region (POGAR) are investing
  towards establishing a regional platform for the freedom of expression
  and the independence of media

- ANND is part of the joint program launched by the Arab
  Governments, UNDP and the Organization for Economic Cooperation
  and Development (OECD) on “Good Governance for Development

- ANND is part of the international steering committee for the
  International Civil Society Forum on Democracies, which is going to
  take place in parallel to the governmental International Conference for
  New Democracies and Countries in Transition in Doha during June
  2006. It also serves as the regional coordinator of the preparatory

V-4. Coordinating efforts to face the results of the foreign
occupations in Palestine and in Iraq:

- ANND is an active member of the advisory for the International and
  Arab Forum to support Development in Palestine. Both the league of
  Arab States and the Palestinian Authorities are members of this group.
  This Forum represents a positive initiative towards enhancing
  partnership among CSOs, UN, and governments in the Arab region.
  Also, during the first meeting of the Forum held in Lebanon in
  October 2004, representatives of Arab governments, the League of
  Arab States, CSOs, business sectors and many UN agencies, such as
  actively participated in the preparatory process and in the workings of
  the Forum.

- UNDP and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in
  Iraq, in partnership with ANND, are preparing national capacity
  building programs for the Iraqi civil society.

V-5. Partnership to build the capacities of the officials and the
parliamentarians on trade related issues:

- ANND is part of the efforts to build the capacities of the Arab
  officials participating in the 6th WTO Ministerial meeting. ANND
  will participate in the experts‟ meeting that will be held before the
  Arab Ministerial Meeting in preparation for the WTO ministerial,
  which will be organized by the Economic and Social Commission for
  West Asia (ESCWA) and UNDP.

- ANND is part of the efforts that UNDP, the Canadian Parliamentary
  Center, and the Lebanese parliament are investing in order to establish
  a regional network for the parliamentarians on the WTO.

       Concluding Notes

Partnership is the precondition for the achievement of the goals of social
justice, global peace, and security.

Although the MDGs are the minimum that humanity can seek for in the
coming decade, world leaders do not show their adequate commitment in
this regards.

Moreover, the sub groups currently working in preparations for the sixtieth
GA of the UN, especially those negotiating issues of terrorism and peace
building will fail to reach the relevant solutions unless they address the core
reasons leading to terrorism and instability. The GCAP, which represents the
world's largest ever anti-poverty campaign, warned that “if world leaders
meeting at the World Summit in New York act to weaken already
internationally agreed poverty-reduction goals, increased global insecurity
will result”40.

Accordingly, the GA is demanded to stress its commitments and to look out
for the shortest ways to achieve them by the year 2015 before it is too late.
This in turn demands the full engagement of CSOs in the whole process,
which therefore increases the need for a strong partnership among all the
concerned stakeholders. Only this type of partnership will lead to the
creation of a strong anti-poverty front that could stand up for social justice,
human rights, peace and stability in the world.

     Statement issued by GCAP on Friday September 2, 2005 to the UN summit.

                        List of references

1-   “Rio +10 and the Privatization of Sustainable Development”,
     Corporate Europe Observer newsletter (Issue 11- May 2002),
     available                       online                  at:

2-    “Bali Next Stop for Johannesburg Summit Preparations” (April 5,
     2002),               available            online              at

3-   Houtard, François (2001), “Mondialisation Marchande et
     Dominations Impériales Forum Du Tiers-Monde”, Contretemps 2.

4-   United Nations Secretary General‟s report “In Larger Freedom,
     Towards Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security”

5-   “Gleneagles: what really happened at the G8 Summit” (July 29th
     2005), Oxfam Briefing Note

6-   Bello, Walden and Guttal, Shalmali, (April 2005) “The
     Wolfensohn Era at the World Bank: a Decade of Contradictions”,
     Focus on Trade #109

7-   Civil Society Forum Declaration to UNCTAD XI, (12 June 2004)
     Eleventh session, São Paulo, 13–18 June 2004

8-   “We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global
     governance”, report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United
     Nations–Civil Society Relations (11 June 2004), presented to the
     fifty-eighth session on Strengthening of the United Nations system

9-   Speech of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Chair of the Panel of
     Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations in the
     informal session on the Cardoso report at the UN House in New
     York, available online at

10- UN charter adopted in 1945

11- Official       Portal        of        Global             Compact

12- Third World Network analysis on the Cardoso report (August

13- Analysis of the Cardoso report by the Conference of Non-
    Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the
    United Nations (CONGO) (7 August 2004)

14- Delgado, Vicente (September-October 2004),, CIVICUS

15- Secretariat‟s note on the highlights from the interactive discussion
    sessions, Commission on sustainable Development -12,
    Partnerships Fair (April 2004)

16- “A more secure world: our shared responsibility”, Report of the
    United Nation Secretary General High Level Panel on Threats,
    Challenges,       and     Change,    available    online     at, presented to the United Nations
    Fifty-ninth session, 2 December 2004

17- Amnesty International Public statement, News Service No: 311, 2
    December 2004

18- Human Rights Watch Statement, “U.N.: Good Diagnosis, but Poor
    Prescription; More Needed to Restore Legitimacy of Commission
    on Human Rights, Geneva, December 2, 2004

19- The Sana‟a declaration is the result of an international
    governmental meeting on democracy held in January 2003

20- The Alexandria declaration is the result of a civil society meeting
    held in the bibliotheca of Alexandria

21- The Arab Human Development Report produced by the United
    Nations Development Program, 2002, ,

22- Statement issued by GCAP on Friday September 2, 2005 to the UN


To top