Constructive Engagement Process between Governments and CSOs: Are We Getting Results?—Experiences and Lessons from Asia

by Vinay Bhargava

I was asked by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to facilitate a round-table discussion on the topic  “Constructive Engagement Process between Governments and CSOs: Are We Getting Results?—Experiences and Lessons from Asia”. The event, held in July 2014 and sponsored by the Government of the Philippines, the ADB, and the World Bank, featured CSOs from five Asian countries (Cambodia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal and the Philippines) and representatives of the Government of the Philippines. This note summarizes the key observations, recommendations and lessons that emerged during the roundtable discussions.

The five countries depict different levels of civil society and state relations. According to one cross-country governance indicator, the Freedom House Freedom in the World 2014 Index on civil liberties, Mongolia is ranked highest (rated 2 on a scale of 1-7 where 1 is best) among the five followed by the Philippines (3), Nepal (4) and Cambodia (5). Myanmar was not rated. Mongolia and the Philippines are OGP members.

At the outset we took note that supporting constructive engagement and collaboration between state and civil society organizations (CSOs) for better governance is a growing international movement. Support for civic engagement is a key component of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Sixty-five countries and many multilateral organizations including the Asian Development Bank have joined the OGP and the list is growing. The OGP declaration describes the process and benefits of civic engagement as follows:

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