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State Society Relations

Africa Platform supports active engagement between arms of the state, broader government and Civil Society.

In South Sudan we have supported the development of an engagement strategy in Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, linking the work of national civil society to the government’s agenda on development and under the International Dialogue on Peacebuildign and Statebuilding.

The support is provided in three phases

Participatory Governance

This support will cover government engagement at the Policy level, with the objective of ensuring a direct impact on selected key governance policy areas and government institutions.

Within the context of this program, Participatory Governance is primarily aimed at ensuring that society development agenda is driven by and has the active support and engagement of citizens at all levels. It goes beyond citizen participatory in electoral democracy and ensures that society is continuously informing any development agenda by Government, private sector and all other actors.

How it is done

In this context there are four steps that together form the core of Africa Platform participatory engagement process. Civil Society play a central in participatory Governance in that to a large extent they represent the most organized voice through which society can speak to the government.

However it is important to note that while Civil Society represent an avenue for societal voice, they serve as a platform and not the actual voices of that society.

1. The first stage is that of gathering of societal voices- These could be voices of dissent, voices of aspiration or voices of support for a government policy or that of any other stakeholder in society.

2. In the second stage Civil Society seek to understand the context in which the societal aspirations are being sought. This involves understanding the nature and state of Government and its organs, rationale for its decisions and the external actors and influences to its decisions.

3. The third stage involves communicating society voices as faithfully, and closer to power as possible, but with the appreciation and understanding of the context in which that voice is communicated.

4. In this stage the civil society works with the government to consider options or alternatives to implementing these voices. This also involves, where needed working with other actors within society to challenge the government on areas it is unwilling or not ready to act, but where it has the capacity to do so.

5. Finally, Civil Society have an accountability duty to give continuous feedback to society on the progress and response of the actors, including the challenges facing them in realizing the objectives sought by society. It also involves managing societal expectations where this is needed.

Overall Goal

1. Stronger democracies and more Accountable governments responding to citizen voices and needs.

2. Effective Civil Society oversight through positive legislation and policies that promote and encourage partnership and respect of CSOs as development actors in their own right.

ACP works to strengthen active citizen participation in development by creating and supporting an enabling environment for Civil Society in three areas

1.  Creating and strengthening formal spaces and Platforms for dialogue between Civil Society and Governments

2. Supporting enactment of positive laws and policies that ensure freedom for Civil Society.

3. Actively building Partnerships between development actors based on Principles of respect and recognition of all actors as key actors in Development.

 

ACP seeks to achieve this by building, supporting and strengthening regional and national coalitions and networks to engage and influence citizen engagement and participation in development at National and Regional Levels.

 

In doing this, ACP has three broad agenda areas:

 

1. Promote and support the establishment and strengthening of Formal and Informal National Spaces and Dialogue Platforms at Regional and National Level that will ensure Civil Society Influence of Development policies and agenda.

 

2. Promote and support the establishment of Positive Legislation and Policies at country level and with Regional Inter Governmental agencies that allow for active Partnership and engagement of Civil Society in Development, especially in Democracy and Governance.

 

3. Promote and support Civil Society Legitimacy at National and Regional Levels to ensure ownership of development agenda and stronger oversight role of Civil Society.

 

4. Build broader collaboration between Civil Society and other Development actors to strengthen Policy and advocacy work of Civil Society, with a specific focus on partnership with Africa Research and Academic Institutions and Private Sector umbrella bodies.