Poland: Consultant: Ensuring an Enabling Environment for Civil Society as it Relates to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Organization: Community of Democracies
Country: Poland
Closing date: 17 Nov 2016

About the Community of Democracies

The Community of Democracies (CoD) is an international organization that drives the global democracy agenda through common action. It was established in 2000 to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector in the pursuit of a common goal: supporting democratic rules and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world.

The Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies (PSCD) is seeking a consultant to write a research-based study and provide recommendations on “The Importance of Ensuring an Enabling Environment for Civil Society as it Relates to the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The activity is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) and aims to support the work of the CoD’s Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society.

1. Specifications:

a. Title of the study:

“*The* Importance of Ensuring an Enabling Environment for Civil Society as it relates to the Sustainable Development Goals”

b. Context:

Enabling and protecting civil society is a critical element in fostering pluralistic, inclusive, and democratic societies, but is increasingly under threat in many countries around the globe. Civil society is a vehicle for civic participation in the development and implementation of government policies and programs, holding governments to account, and ensuring and delivering sustainable development results. Civic space, which encompasses the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, is being limited through repressive legislation and regulations that unduly restrict civic freedoms.

These include anti-terror laws that limit freedom of expression, public order laws that limit the right to peaceful protest, laws that stigmatize civil society groups as “foreign agents”, laws that create bureaucratic hurdles to receive funding, and laws that restrict freedom online. In addition to formal measures and their corresponding penalties (imprisonment, fines, etc.), informal actions are also increasing: harassment, intimidation, demonization, and bureaucratic burdens.

Yet, while numerous cases of negative impacts of restricting the application of fundamental freedoms on human rights civil society organizations and more traditional development organizations are recorded, there is relatively little research on how this affects a state’s development. There is also a need to examine the argument for enabling and protecting civil society; civil society can play a positive and significant role in the realization of sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Finally, there is a need to look at how sustainable and equitable development depends on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the existence of an independent civil society with the ability to organize itself and engage effectively in multi-stakeholder fora and decision-making processes.

Case studies should, among others, explore the questions as to whether the economic development we are currently witnessing in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa could be strengthened and made more equitable and stable with increased respect for civil and political rights and freedoms. Case studies should also focus on whether denying basic political rights to disadvantaged groups, making it impossible for them to engage peacefully on issues of relevance to them (such as access to resources), results in conflict, leading to instability and the reversal of development gains and inequitable development (e.g. Zimbabwe). The research should also consider more positive cases, like Brazil, where disadvantaged groups took advantage of guaranteed civil and political rights and organized, thus making it possible for them to peacefully assemble and dialogue with government to seek greater influence and access to resources. This case would profit from more in-depth exploration.

c. Objective and description of the study:

The aim of the study to be developed under the auspices of the Community of Democracies’ Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society (WG EPCS), is to address the linkage between human rights and an enabling environment for civil society – as secured by the respect for and protection of the fundamental freedoms – and the successful realization of the SDGs.

The study is expected to:

  • Broaden the argument in favour of ensuring an enabling environment for civil society by providing evidence of how civil society can play a positive and significant role in the realization of the SDGs, and more generally in economic and social development; and how, by guaranteeing fundamental freedoms, governments can improve their country’s development and ensure that the SDG’s are met at the national level;
  • Support an in-depth argument with a selection of best practices and case studies as to why an enabling environment for civil society is crucial for sustainable, stable and equitable development, including regarding how various types of CSOs contribute to social and economic development;
  • Include recommendations, based on analysis of best practices, as to what steps/actions governments should take with regards to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms for civil society engagement crucial to secure economic and social development as well as guidance and recommendations on how to use the SDGs as an entry point to demanding governments address fundamental freedom and human rights issues in their country.

Furthermore, the outcome of the research is also expected to:

  • If relevant and substantiated based on the outcome of the research, to provide additional arguments supporting human rights/democracy organizations’ advocacy efforts to highlight the potential negative development-related consequences of targeting the civil society and restricting civic space to rights-restricting regimes;
  • Contribute to the increased understanding of the relationship between basic rights and enabling environment for CSOs; and country economic and social development to advancing CoD work in its “Democracy & Development” priority activity area, and establishing a clear link between this priority area and “Strengthening Civil Society”, that will in turn feed into inter alia technical assistance provided by the CoD.

The study is not to overlap with current efforts by the CoD PSCD to develop and carry out a joint UNDP-CoD-OGP project aimed at developing the supplementary indicators for SDG Goal 16 nor with the TAP Network Goal 16 Toolkit that provides guidance on the nongovernmental stakeholders and governments engagement regarding planning, implementation, follow-up and accountability of Goal 16. Instead, the study should focus on providing reliable evidence to convince governments that an enabling environment for civil society is necessary to ensure sustainable economic and social development, and thus have a direct effect on the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

2. Duties and Responsibilities of the Consultant:

The contracted consultant is expected to:

  • Develop a research methodology to be approved by the Chair of the WG EPCS Chair and PSCD;
  • Undertake necessary research, including conducting a series of interviews with NGO representatives (50% international NGOs, 50% local/national NGOs, particularly in the countries chosen for the case study sections), including members of the International Steering Committee (ISC)[2], to ensure that their perspective and suggestions are reflected in the study. Please note that PSCD does not bear the responsibility to arrange interviews required as part of the research;
  • Write the study on “The Importance of Ensuring an Enabling Environment for Civil Society as it relates to the Sustainable Development Goals” along the specifications outlined above;
  • Share the first draft and present the preliminary research findings and recommendations either during a face-to-face meeting or a conference call to the members of the ISC and WG EPCS – to seek their comments and input before submitting the final version to the PSCD;
  • Lialise with PSCD staff, WG EPCS Chair’s team and with other members of the WG EPCS.

3. Qualifications:

  • Completed university degree from an accredited academic institution, preferably in development field, social science, economics, or other relevant discipline;
  • At least 7 years of professional experience, preferably in the field of democracy/civil society or similar, with prooved track record of completed research and publications or unpublished analytical papers;
  • Professional fluency in English;
  • Excellent writing skills;
  • Proficient with MS Office suite.

4. Tentative timeframe:

It is anticipated that the assignment will commence at the latest, on December 1, 2016, and will be completed not later than, Friday, 28 April 2017. The following timeline is to be observed:

  • The consultant should send the first complete version of the study by e-mail to PSCD no later than 24 February 2017 at 12:00 hours (Warsaw time) [first version study delivery deadline];

  • The PSCD will transmit its observations and comments to the expert by March 10, 2017, at the latest;

  • Between February 24, 2016 – March 24, 2016, the first version of the study is to be consulted with the WG EPCS during the conference call in February OR during the face to face meeting of the WG EPCS in early March 2017, subject to availability of additional funding to cover the cost of consultant’s attendance of the face-to-face meeting in Geneva;

  • The consultant should deliver the final study no later than 17 April 2017 at 12:00 hours (Warsaw time) [final study delivery deadline];

  • The PSCD will either accept and validate the study within seven (7) working days, and no later than April 26, 2017, or will transmit its observations and comments to the consultant, who then will have five (5) working days to submit the revised version. In the case of major changes, subject to PSCD’s consent, the time for revision can be extended to 10 working days.

5. Transmission of the first version and final study

The first version and final Study should be transmitted to the PSCD’s Working Groups Coordinator, Beata Faracik, by e-mail in Word and PDF format.

6. Remuneration:

The remuneration for research and developing a study is set at 7500 USD, inclusive of all taxes. The price shall be all inclusive and shall cover all the costs borne by the consultant in performance of the order, including VAT and all forms of overheads (i.e. interviews, research tools, possible administrative fee) except travel and accommodation for any and all official presentations taking place in the framework of the WG EPCS meetings.

How to apply:

To apply for the consultant position at the PSCD, please submit your cover letter, CV and at least one research-based writing sample (maximum of 3) you have authored to bfaracik@community-democracies.org.

Please state the following text in the subject field: “Grant 1310-WG EPCS study Consultant (your first and last name)”

In your CV and cover letter please add the following:

”I hereby authorize your organization to process the attached personal information strictly for the purposes of job recruitment pursuant to the Act on Protection of Personal Data of 29 August 1997 (Journal of Laws No. 133 Item 883).”

The closing date for receiving applications is November 17, 2016.

Late submissions will not be considered.

Applicants residing abroad should be prepared for interviews via Skype.

Requests for clarifications can be directed to Beata Faracik (bfaracik@community-democracies.org)

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