Treat NGOs as equal partners | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 11, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:27 AM, October 11, 2020

Treat NGOs as equal partners

Speakers urge UN, international organisations, donors

Speakers at a virtual session yesterday said the local and national NGOs in Bangladesh want to be recognised and appreciated for their important role in the development of the country.

Addressing the event, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) Executive Director Shaheen Anam said, "The NGOs want to be treated as equal partners."

She said the NGOs in Bangladesh have come a long way since 1971. They are no more the aid or relief-giving organisations that they used to be.

"We have come a long way in terms of skills, experience and bargaining power," she added.

Shaheen Anam chaired the virtual session titled "UN in 75: Interfacing Government and Civil Society for Development and Sustainable Peace".

She said it would be "sad" if NGOs were not being treated as equal partners by the United Nations, international organisations, and donors.

The MJF executive director said her organisation has been working relentlessly as an intermediary funding organisation for local NGOs, bridging the gap between small NGOs and donor agencies.

The session, organised by BDCSO Process, a platform of local NGOs and civil society organisations, was part of its annual conference that ended yesterday.

Earlier on Tuesday and Thursday, the organisation held similar sessions.

Speakers yesterday said the UN needs to continue supporting NGOs in Bangladesh to flourish, especially in the technical area.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, chief moderator of BDCSO Process and also the executive director of Coast Trust, said the UN's role is irreplaceable when it comes to multilateralism.

He stressed the need for UN role in reinforcing civil society space.

Roberto Bissio, a renowned development activist in Uruguay, said one of the functions of the civil society, recognised by the UN agenda 2030, is to exercise the accountability of the government.

On a global level, international institutions should be held accountable so that multilateralism works, he said, adding that one way to make institutions accountable is to follow their money flow.

The UN was created 75 years ago to bring peace and development, and free the world from war, Roberto said.

However, $1.7 trillion is the annual global military expenditure now, whereas the total UN expenses that include work for peace, development, humanitarian work, and full functioning of its human rights system is $48.3 billion, he added.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which have the most responsibility in maintaining peace, have by far the most military expenditure, the development activist said.

Lauding the activities of BDCSO Process, newly-appointed Bangladesh Ambassador to Ethiopia Nazrul Islam said the platform has been complementing the government's nation building process.

Mohsin Ali, executive director of Wave Foundation, and Smruti Patel and Koenraad Van Brabant, both Switzerland-based development activists, among others, addressed the session.

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