CCIC monthly e-bulletin: October 2013                                                            About CCIC     |     Contact Us
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Civil society organizations – a pillar for democracy in developing countries and in Canada

Julia SanchezLast week I had the enormous privilege of accompanying Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, during a 2.5 day academic (i.e. not official) visit to Canada. Listening to him speak and observing his exchanges with the dozens of civil society leaders he met during this short trip, as well as some government representatives, made me realize how much we have to ramp up our activism around the importance of civil society for vibrant democratic processes, and the need for an enabling environment for civil society. In the Global South and in Canada.

With the Voices-Voix coalition, that CCIC is a part of, and the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, we invited Maina to participate in a one-day workshop called “Civil Society: Dissent, Democracy & the Law” on October 23rd. The workshop brought together CSO representatives from a wide range of sectors in Canada (indigenous, labour, environment, international development, etc.) and academics / human rights lawyers / researchers. Mr. Kiai set the stage for the workshop by describing some of the key characteristics of the shrinking space for CSOs on the global stage, and other workshop participants shared their stories about what they are observing on the ground.  Maina also travelled to Ottawa where he was able to meet with other NGO representatives, as well as indigenous leaders and government staff at DFATD. In addition, Maina gave two public lectures, one at McGill University and one at the University of Ottawa.

Some of the key takeaways for me from these different interactions are:

First, that governments around the world are increasingly in fear of independent voices from civil society that are standing up for principles they believe in, and that cannot therefore be swayed or influenced as easily as those that are in motivated by their search for power.

Second, that repressive governments can be identified easily for they are determined not to be scrutinized themselves but encourage scrutiny elsewhere. How a society deals with its civil society and marginalized groups is a sign of how progressive it is. A true democratic society is one whose government allows for a strong and vibrant civil society to flourish, and that will not attempt to punish it for representing challenging views.

Third, that the shrinking space for civil society at the global level is manifested in first and foremost a restricted access to funding. Maina offers that freedom of association must include the right to seek, receive and use funding including from international sources (i.e. foreign, domestic and international). The trend to stigmatize foreign funding in many countries is threatening the existence of human rights and other social movements.  And also the dialectic between private sector and government on the one hand, and civil society on the other, is revealing a double standard that is difficult to justify. Why can the first access and depend on foreign funding, and the latter not?

Fourth, the legal framework required for civil society to exist and to do its work – including advocacy work, holding governments to account and allowing for dissenting views - and the protection of activists, is a pre-requisite for a healthy civil society and in turn for a vibrant democracy. Like the private sector requires an enabling environment to support economic growth, so civil society requires an enabling environment to contribute to good governance.

Finally, the need for an enabling environment for civil society, that upholds the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, is especially crucial in times of elections. Maina points out that we are seeing a series of “civilian coups” being played out in numerous countries, where the formal process of election day are more or less respected, and that is enough for the international community to recognize the elections as legitimate . However, elections can only be fair to the degree that civil society groups have been able to participate actively and freely in the lead-up to the elections, and that there has been a level playing field for all. In countries where incumbent governments do not respect the right of association and manipulate the process leading up to the elections, we can hardly expect the results of the vote to be legitimately democratic.

In Canada, we have been losing recognition by the government of our important role as policy formulators, advocates and organizations that help to hold governments to account. We have lost the space for meaningful and formal dialogue on policies, and we have seen a huge restriction on funding for CSOs (with cuts, defunding, restricted funding, unpredictability, etc. being the norm now).  This is as true for international development groups as it is for environmental, women’s rights and indigenous people’s organizations, amongst others. Maina has encouraged us to speak of these trends more openly both at home and internationally, for what is at stake is not merely the health of a sector, but rather democracy itself.

In solidarity,


Do you have any reactions to this column? I’d like to hear about it! Please send any comments to Julia Sanchez.



Registration for CCIC Policy Conference Now Open!

CCIC Policy ConferenceCCIC’s upcoming conference “Canadian Leadership for a Better World: A Policy Agenda for International Co-operation in 2015 and Beyond”, which will take place in Ottawa on November 21st and 22nd, will set the stage for developing a much needed national policy framework on international development and humanitarian issues, situated within global discussions around 2015 and national discussions around Canadian foreign policy. The framework will provide a propositional platform for our vision of a better world - and affirm our role as Canadian civil society within this vision. The conference will provide an excellent opportunity for CCIC member organization leaders, policy experts, communications staff, and other key development thinkers and stakeholders to come together to interact, strategize and discuss. Please consult the draft agenda for more information. The deadline for registration is November 15th 2013. However, we are offering a special early-bird registration fee, if you register by November 1st 2013. Please register to benefit from the special fee.

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Strength in numbers – Metrics for Canada’s international development community

In response to some work that Imagine Canada had begun doing around metrics for the charitable sector in Canada, and to support the work that CCIC had begun around a fresh and powerful narrative for the international development community, in early 2012 CCIC began work to identify some key metrics specific to the development and humanitarian community. The research draws on data available in the T3010s, which all registered charities are required to provide to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), to identify various metrics for organizations with both a primary and secondary focus on activities in “aid and international development”. In 2011, for example, there were approximately 2400 organizations in Canada working on international development, generating a total revenue of $3.9 billion, and employing approximately 14,000 full-time staff. Despite the large number of organizations, a small portion (47 organizations or 2 %) account for the majority of revenue (75%). This revenue comes predominantly from tax receipted gifted ($1.3 billion) followed by government support ($500 million). Similarly, while only 8% of registered “international development” charities are members of CCIC or the Provincial Councils, these organizations represent 74% of total revenue. An Executive Summary of the Report, “Strength in Numbers” is now available on CCIC’s website, with the full report in Members’ space.

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New on CCIC’s blog

CCIC BlogFour thought provoking articles were posted on CCIC’s blog since last issue of FLASH. In “What’s in a name? (Or the art of rebranding)”, CCIC Policy Analyst Fraser Reilly-King wonders what will be Canada’s brand for international development, now that  the CIDA name no longer exists, and compares it with other countries who have also gone through a merger but have kept the name –and identity?- of their international development agency. In “Was last week’s speech thrown?”, Reilly-King contrasts the inspired text of the throne speech, with its less than inspired policy agenda, noting that in the context of the post-2015 agenda and the need for a universal set of goals that “leaves no one behind”, Canada has a lot more to do in its own backyard to be truly visionary. Guest blogger Faris Ahmed, Policy Director at USC Canada, writes from the 40th session of the UN Committee for World Food Security (CFS) in Rome, and reflects on the state of global food security and hunger, as seen from a small farmer perspective, in “A Stormy Journey to Rome: Behind the tragic boat disasters off the Italian coast lies a bigger story”. And finally, to conclude the academic visit of UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai to Canada, CCIC has published the text of his presentation at the High Level event on supporting civil society organized by President Obama at the UN meeting in New York in September 2013.


Latest news from CCIC Communications Task Force

The CCIC Communications Task Force was created more than a year ago to work, among other things, on redefining a new narrative for our sector. The group presented some of its work to date and possible directions at the Leaders Forum last February. The feedback received has been incorporated in the work plan of the group for this year. We will be reaching out to member organizations around key dates and events, providing opportunities –and tools- to communicate common messages, engaging stories and more about the role of CSO in international development and social justice. Communicators, as well as people working in public engagement and advocacy in our membership who wish to join the Task Force, should contact Chantal Havard.

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Workshops on HRBA and Equitable Partnership big success

Fourteen members of CCIC and the Provincial and Regional Councils convened in the small town of Antigonish for four days in mid-October to pilot a workshop developed by the Coady International Institute and Equitas - International Human Rights Education Centre. Building on last year’s work to socialize the Istanbul Principles (IP) and various generic workshops on implementing the IP, the Antigonish workshops had a much more specific focus: to test a methodology with participants for beginning to integrate a Human Rights -Based Approach into development programming and a process for being more intentional about ensuring equity is integrated into your partnerships throughout the life of a program. Feedback on content and design that emerged from the pilots will be integrated into the Facilitator’s Guide, as well as the specific tools, with the final products released in the New Year. CCIC is exploring rolling out the workshops in Winter 2014 with the Provincial and Regional Councils.

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A Quebec equivalent of former CIDA? Public consultation and webinar on AQSI

In February 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRIFCE - Quebec) and Quebec Association of International Cooperation Organizations (AQOCI) created a committee mandated to consider what should constitute a Quebec International Solidarity Agency (Agence québécoise de solidarité internationale – AQSI) and produce a report by December 21st with recommendations about the structure, mandate and other issues related to such project. The Government of Quebec has already conducted consultations with various organizations and is now asking you two simple questions: should it create an AQSI? And why? CCIC and AQOCI will also co-organize a webinar on November 1st where Gervais L’Heureux, Executive Director at AQOCI, will present the process until now, what is AQOCI’s role in relation with this file and what would an AQSI look like. For more information on the webinar and to register, please contact Chantal Havard at CCIC.

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Be part of the JQSI 2013: Quebec international solidarity days

JQSIEach year, the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI) and its members organize a series of events in Quebec about international solidarity. This year, theQuebec international solidarity days (JQSI) will be on November 6-16, including a launch event in Montreal on November 7th, with Jean-François Lisée, MRIFCE Minister, as a keynote speaker. Activities will be organized around the theme of open dialogue (We need to talk – Faut se parler) and issues such as local economy, education, gender equity, environment, social justice and health. For more information about the agenda, check out their official website.

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Open for Justice! A new campaign by the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability

The Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability (CNCA) recently launched a campaign which calls for the creation of an extractive-sector ombudsman in Canada and legislated access to Canadian courts for people who have been seriously harmed by the international operations of Canadian companies. The campaign was launched on October 22nd and 23rd. The launch included a CSO Leaders’ Roundtable, a press conference, targeted meetings with Members of Parliament from all parties, a briefing session on Parliament Hill, and a public event with international guests from Guatemala, Mexico and the Philippines.  CNCA member organizations are supporting this campaign in different ways. For example, Development and Peace has launched a parallel campaign with its members, entitled A Voice for Justice. The campaign echoes CNCA’s calls for an independent ombudsman for the Canadian extractive sector that can investigate complaints brought by communities overseas where companies operate.

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Canadian Fast Start Climate Finance Commitments met

The Canadian Coalition for Climate Change and Development (C4D) just launched a new report, Protecting our Common Future: An Assessment of Canada’s Fast-Start Climate Financing, that assesses Canada's fast-start climate financing contributions between 2010-12 and its commitments under the Copenhagen Accord. The Report found that this amount was a substantial increase from previous years, represented “new” and “additional” money, as well as Canada’s “fair share” (or 4%) of the US$30 billion global commitment to fast-start financing. However, 74% of the financing was in the form of loans, rather than grants, one of the highest ratios of any other donor. Furthermore, only 18% of the financing was in the form of adaptation, falling short of a more equitable balance between adaptation and mitigation. Among other things, the report recommends Canada build on its commitments to date and continue its $400 million commitment through 2013-15, aim for a 50/50 balance between adaptation and mitigation, reduce its use of loan finance and commit to grant financing for adaptation projects, and more clearly indicate how these investments are compliant with the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act.

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Inclusive Development a cross-cutting theme for 2014 Ministerial meeting of GPEDC

Progress Since Busan, domestic resource mobilization, Middle Income Countries, South-South Cooperation and Knowledge Sharing, and the private sector as a partner in development will be the five areas of focus at the first Ministerial meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) to be held in Mexico in April 15-16, 2014. The GPEDC is the governing body that emerged from the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. Despite strong efforts by USAID and the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) since December 2012 to make inclusive development a stand-alone issue, faced with steadfast resistance from the Co-Chairs to the Steering Committee (SC) of the GPEDC, it will now only be a cross-cutting theme. At the October SC meeting of the GPEDC in Washington, the CPDE issued a one page statement to underscore the importance of, “firmly entrenching principles of inclusivity into the development process in a manner that contributes to the transformation of different populations.”In response, the UK produced a statement on how to mainstream the issue at the Ministerial. This includes firmly entrenching inclusive development within each of the six themes and the title of the first session, and making the enabling environment (EE) and actions to accelerate progress on it a session topic in the focus on Progress since Busan. It has yet to be seen whether this will in fact happen. CPDE is preparing a report for the Ministerial that will identify progress (and lack thereof) on EE.

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Obama highlights increasing government restrictions on civil society

Last month at the UN General Assembly, US President Obama organized a roundtable on civil society with heads of state, civil society leaders, multilateral organizations and the philanthropic community. The roundtable drew attention to the increasing restrictions being placed globally on civil society organizations. President Obama threw out a challenge to governments in the coming year to do three key things: 1) identify steps that all governments can take to make it easier for CSOs to do their work and to partner with civil society; 2) to take a stand against governments that are stifling civil society through, among other things, diplomatic efforts; and 3) to find new and better ways to help civil society succeed in difficult situations. Among other things, Obama highlighted the work of other panellists, including the Community of Democracies (in which representatives from Canadian Foreign Affairs are active) and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, who came Canada this month on an academic visit at the invitation of CCIC, Voices and Amnesty International Canada. Canadian Development Minister Paradis attended the session. For more info, see the transcript and video from the event.

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International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG)

(To advance its policy agenda, support existing networks and have a greater impact, CCIC is involved in many coalitions. Each month we will be featuring one of them in Flash! so that you can get involved with them too.)

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is a national coalition of Canadian civil society organizations that was established in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. The coalition brings together some 38 NGOs, unions, professional associations, faith groups, environmental organizations, human rights and civil liberties advocates, as well as groups representing immigrant and refugee communities in Canada.

ICLMG’s mandate is to defend the civil liberties and human rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in federal and provincial laws, and in international human rights instruments. Member organizations came together within this coalition to share their concerns about the impact of national and international anti-terrorism legislation -- and other national security measures -- on civil liberties, human rights, refugee protection, minority groups, political dissent, governance of charities, international cooperation and humanitarian assistance.

CCIC is a founding member of ICLMG. The two coalitions are currently collaborating with Peacebuild to organize a one-day discussion forum on the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The November 6th event will explore the process of listing terrorist entities, and the possible risks associated with intentional or unintentional interactions with those entities. The recent listing of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network will be used as a current case study for the event, but will not be the only area of focus.  

ICLMG is also collaborating with CCIC’s Americas Policy Group on a joint research project which explores the criminalization of dissent in Latin America (especially in relation to foreign extractive interests) and  draws parallels with the shrinking of the democratic space and the demonization of the environmental movement in Canada.

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Project Ploughshares

MP Peter Braid with children in the Thies region of Senegal, Sept 2013.

This month CCIC had a dynamic discussion with Results Canada new Executive Director, Amy Bartlett. Amy told us about the early days of the organization, shared some results of their advocacy efforts over the years and told us more about their Annual Conference, taking place late November...among other things!

CCIC - What is the spark that has lead to the creation of RESULTS? Can you tell us more about the history of the organization, both the global and Canadian network?

What distinguishes RESULTS Canada from most international development organizations is that we focus on advocacy. Our contribution is creating the political will to mobilize resources and improve policy in order to eliminate poverty on both micro and macro levels in the developing world. We conduct our advocacy at a variety of levels in order to ensure effectiveness:  this includes citizen advocates and national staff who meet with key decision makers across the country and internationally to put global poverty, focused on cost-effective and tangible solutions, on the agenda.

Read the full interview...

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The United Nations and Canada: What Canada has done and should be doing at the UN

UN and CanadaResponding to years of UN bashing by the Government of Canada, a group of 17 United Nations and foreign policy experts held media conferences across Canada on September 23rd to explain what Canada should be saying and doing to help regain its place as a leader at the UN. At the same time, the UN & Canada Project launched a booklet of essays to help Canadians understand the significant impact international institutions have on the world and to encourage our government to reposition Canada in world affairs. The 17 participating experts are former cabinet ministers, senior civil society representatives, professors of international relations, former Canadian ambassadors and other former senior government and UN officials. CCIC’s own President-CEO Julia Sanchez also contributed to the booklet with a piece entitled ‘Civil Society, Canada and the United Nations: Partnering for the Future’. This volume has been compiled and published as a project of the World Federalist Movement – Canada

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RESULTS Canada National Conference 2013: Raising our voices for the world we want

The conference will be from November 30th to December 2nd at the Government Conference Centre. November 30th will mark 761 days until the target date for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, the world’s first development agenda. The development community and concerned global citizens must continue to advocate for proven, cost-effective solutions that raise people in the developing world out of poverty today and post-2015. The 2013 National Conference will be an opportunity to learn more about the progress and future directions of many of the global poverty solutions  – particularly health and child-focused. The focus will be on advocacy for a better world and building the skills to realize it. Click here to have a look at the full draft agenda! Space is limited – register today! For more information about RESULTS Canada, check out the “Member Profile section” in this Flash! issue.

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Equitas: 35th annual International Human Rights Training Program, June 8-27, 2014

The application period for the 35th annual International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) is now open and Equitas will be accepting applications until November 18, 2013. Equitas offers annually this three-week program in Montreal, that builds human rights knowledge and skills, attitudes and behaviours. Approximately 90 participants from about 50 countries are equipped with innovative tools that enable them to enhance their action to defend and promote human rights and democratic values in their home contexts.

dividing line An online portal chronicling the journey of seeds

SeedmapAlthough, we rarely think about seeds, 9 out of every 10 bites of food we eat today start with seeds... and they are under increasing threat. Launched on World Food Day this year, —a project of USC Canada and ETC Group—, is a one of a kind online portal that focus on the global state of agricultural biodiversity today, on key threats to the world's seed and biodiversity systems, particularly the impact of climate change, and regions where institutions and peoples' movements are working to safeguard it. Complete with the latest news, resources, and current calls to action, also features an interactive map that lets you visit hundreds of case studies around the world on seeds, biodiversity and food. Geared towards policymakers, researchers, practitioners, educators, and students, as well as the broader food and environment movements, pays particular attention to the critical role of women, small holder farmers, indigenous peoples and their knowledge systems in the on-farm conservation of genetic resources.

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Live webcast: How to feed 9 billion on a small planet

Live WebcastGrowing evidence suggests that agro ecology will feed the world. Business as usual will not. Miguel Altieri from the University of California (Berkeley) - a widely published, leading authority on agro ecology - will speak on ecological agriculture as a key solution to food insecurity, hunger, and climate change. The event will take place via a live webcast across the country on November 19th at 7 pm EST. Miguel Altieri will be joined by panelists Jean-Martin Fortier- farmer and author of Le jardinier maraîcher (coming soon in English as The Market Gardener)- and Sarah Archibald of the Sierra Youth Coalition Campus Food Project. Sign up to join the webcast or to organize your own private or public screening of the webcast. To register or for more information, please click here. USC Canada is helping organize this event with partners: Inter pares, Food Secure Canada, Sierra Youth Coalition, ETC Group, CBAN, Ram's Horn, Development and Peace, and the National Farmers Union.

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Private Sector & Development Series by NSI

NSI logoThe North-South Institute (NSI) has published a series of reports and policy briefs on a variety of issues surrounding the private sector's engagement in international development, including: “How to Engage the Private Sector for Development”, “Mapping Private Sector Engagements in Development Cooperation”, “The Private Sector and Development: Key Concepts”, “Development and the Private Sector: Canada’s Approach”.

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Post-2015 Update on where we stand following the September UN General Assembly

Beyond 2015 has produced a short brief on where things are at following the latest discussion on the post-2015 agenda.

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CIVICUS “Enabling Environment Index”

The CIVICUS `Enabling Environment Index’ (EEI) is the first rigorous attempt to measure and compare the conditions that affect the potential of citizens to participate in civil society and ranks the governance, socio-cultural and socio-economic environments for civil society in 109 countries. New Zealand tops the list, followed by Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway while the Democratic Republic of Congo has the worst rated EEI, followed by Uzbekistan, Iran, Burundi and the Gambia. Co-author of the report, CIVICUS Research Officer, Ciana-Marie Pegus cautions that the EEI currently has limitations as it looks at long-term factors that create the conditions for healthy citizen engagement and is not necessarily indicative of current events: “For example, in Canada, which ranks second on the EEI, government-civil society relations have been strained due to reports of active undermining of sections of civil society”..

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Investments to End Poverty report by Development Initiatives

Launched at the start of the United Nations Global Assembly, the Investments to End Poverty Report is a comprehensive overview of trends related to all of the current sources of financing for development – from the types of financing available, to their scale, areas of thematic and geographic focus, and more.  The ten-page Highlights are a great teaser for the longer 330 page Full Report.

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New World Bank Report Finds 400 Million Children Living in Extreme Poverty

The number of people living in extreme poverty around the world has sharply declined over the past three decades, but in 2010 it still included roughly 400 million children, or one -third of those living in such abysmal conditions, according to a new World Bank report - The State of the Poor: Where Are The Poor, Where Is Extreme Poverty Harder to End, and What Is the Current Profile of the World’s Poor? - that for the first time gives an in-depth profile of the poorest people in the world.

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IPCC releases its Fifth Assessment Report: Climate science settled beyond reasonable doubt but still time to fix the climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The report shows with greater clarity and certainty than ever before that climate change is real, caused by human activity and requires urgent action. According to the IPCC, sea levels are rising, precipitation patterns are changing, sea ice is declining and oceans are acidifying – all faster than ever before and all with grave consequences for our communities, environments and economies. In other words, the debate on climate science is over. Climate scientists have done their job in making these facts clear beyond any reasonable doubt and now it’s time for the world to act, and for Canada to do its fair share.

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New UNDP report: Working with civil society in foreign aid – Possibilities for South-South cooperation

The E-book “Working With Civil Society in Foreign Aid – Possibilities for South-South Cooperation?” reviews different roles, experiences, and lessons learned from working with civil society in development cooperation. It compares and analyses common themes and good practices from numerous aid-providing countries. It also puts forth potential issues and questions for consideration regarding future engagement with civil society under the framework of South-South cooperation. 

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Development Post Fall Edition

Fall Issue - Development Post

The autumn edition of online magazine Development Post is out now. In a special report on “The Education Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together”, Development Post goes back to school to report on the new ideas, policies, technologies, and insights on education in development. Other interesting articles include “Tourism and training, a joint catalyst for development”. You can view the Autumn edition online or download the iPad edition.




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Tax Justice Resources

The Halifax Initiative has just released an extensive list of useful learning resources around the issue of tax justice, ahead of a seminar on the issue planned for December.

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Who is @DFATDCanada following on Twitter? Check out this new OpenCanada graphic!

Who is DFATD Canada

In October 2012, OpenCanada published an infographic that showed who DFAIT was following on Twitter. Now that the newly minted @DFATDCanada account is live, those numbers have changed significantly. The total number of accounts followed by DFATD has increased significantly and there is now a near equal division of domestic and foreign accounts. The development side of the department is more visible, with several prominent international development organizations included in the list of new accounts followed. Is your organization followed by @DFATDCanada? Click here to find out!

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If you have an item for Flash, send it by e-mail to Chantal Havard. Please note that Flash items should be no longer than one paragraph.