By Liliana Rodríguez Burgos - Colombian Confederation of NGOs director
The Colombian Confederation of NGOs - CCONG - the national Colombian platform belonging to FORUS, presented the document "The role of CSOs on territories with sustainable peace"to the National Government in 2017 as a contribution to reflection process and proposals development to create favourable conditions for sustainable and long lasting peace in the territory of Colombia. Furthermore, due to its strengths and share capital, it aimed to contribute to consolidate a society which bases its development on reconciliation and real mechanisms for strengthening democracy.
In this context, it was proposed to manage and implement four roles carried out by Civil Society Organisations - CSOs:
Role 1: "Peace Education and Pedagogy" Promoter
Role 2: Follow-up and Monitoring of Agreements
Role 3: Participation for advocacy in National and Local Public Policies
Role 4: Renewing collective action to demand the guarantee of political and civil rights for CSOs in Colombian democracy - Enabling Environment.
In compliance with Role 2: Follow-up and Monitoring of Agreements, and with the support of FORUS within the framework of initiatives addressed to national platforms, an exercise regarding "Citizen Monitoring" was carried out, under the question: Colombia: an example to follow in learning from the effectiveness of development cooperation?
The findings and what the monitoring made visible led to the following conclusions:
The Peace Agreement and the actions proposed by different development implementation actors aligned with national and territorial development plans and programs. The answer is YES, it is a good example. From the information analysed - the regulation of the four funds and the guidelines for contracting - it was found that the budgeting and financial execution of the four cooperation funds follow the principles of the seven points established in the Peace Agreement and are coordinated with work scenarios articulated by the National Government (as established in the Colombia Peace Fund).
The Peace Agreement and the actions proposed by different actors in order to implement the development, acknowledge and encourage the efforts of the national and local stakeholders (CSOs; private-business sector; and the public sector). The answer is NO, it is not a good example. The findings show that the execution - contracting of the international cooperation resources of the four funds - is highly unequal compared to the national development actors; privileging international cooperation agencies and the public sector.
The Peace Agreement and the actions proposed by different actors in order to implement the development, guarantee the right of access to public information. The answer is, No, it's not a good example. As of the date of this supervision, the opacity in the execution of the four funds is constant; the information to show how, with whom and where it is being executed is not found in a clear, visible and practical way (characteristics of access to information).
The Peace Agreement and the shares advanced by different development actors for its implementation, foster and strengthen the right to monitoring and social surveillance, as well as citizen oversight. The answer is, No, it's not a good example. No technical and financial resources where considered to strengthen and encourage tracking and monitoring scenarios, collaborative or formative. An example could be the 2019 National Plan for a National Network of Citizen Oversight Support, which didn't establish strategies or actions related to the Peace Agreement and its derivative processes.
The monitoring made it possible to make four recommendations regarding the shared purposes that both the government and the cooperation organisations should have: i) strengthening and recognising the processes and instances of participatory planning, incident and decision making in the territories to guarantee the sustainability and appropriation of development; ii) complying with alignment, harmonisation and management for results recognising, respecting and strengthening the established legal and social instances; the functions, faculties and responsibility of the local leaders in development; iii) reviewing the processes for the execution of the fund's resources so that they can participate in equal conditions. But the most important thing is to revalue the Value Proposition of the CSOs that are in the territories; and break the vicious circle of centralisation and concentrated contracting; iv) facilitate and promote an increasingly informed citizenry based on compliance with the Law on Access to Information; therefore it is necessary that the resources and processes derived from investments with the resources of the funds, which are surely articulated with the resources of the public budget; guarantee access, reliability and relevance (even if the international FUERO is available).
The results of this citizen exercise are a contribution for all development actors, and a commitment for the CCNGO to influence the construction of public policies for the promotion, strengthening and participation of CSOs established in the National Development Plan; so that their civil and political rights are guaranteed; and their recognition as an actor that contributes with its knowledge, expertise and collective action in the territories; in sustainable territorial development, in reconciliation and in the strengthening of democracy.