Advocacy Toolkit: Guidance on how to advocate for a more enabling environment for civil society in your context

Costanza de Toma
Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness
Year of publication: 

This Toolkit is designed for all civil society organizations that work in the development field and wish to make their work more effective by putting the Istanbul Principles into practice. CSOs perform a variety of roles and engage in a variety of processes to help develop their societies. They provide services. They monitor and engage with governments. They advocate for and empower the marginalized and poor. They do research. All CSOs — regardless of size, mandate, location, or focus of work—can benefit from the experiences and good practices that are shared in this Toolkit.

Based on the international recognition of civil society organization as independent development actors in their own right in 2008, the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness has consulted numerous CSOs across all global regions to determine the commonly accepted:

  • Principles of CSO development effectiveness;
  • Guidance for the Implementation of these principles;
  • Enabling Environment conditions required from governments and donors for CSOs to be able to apply and strengthen their specific role in development

The resulting International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness covers these three areas in addition to proposing ways forward for civil society to continue dialogue on the implementation, monitoring and advocacy of the Framework. Given the global reach and fully participatory nature of the Open Forum process, the development standards of the International Framework can be used as a legitimate benchmark by CSOs the world over.

To support CSOs to use the International Framework, it is accompanied by two toolkits: the Implementation Toolkit which consolidates CSO contributions from the Open Forum process to provide guidance on how to put the Principles into practice; and an Advocacy Toolkit with guidance on how CSOs can use the messages on civil society space in the International Framework to advocate for a more enabling environment in their national and regional contexts. CSOs are encouraged to refer to all three documents in their effectiveness work.

The Advocacy Toolkit is available in English, French, and Spanish.