From 12-16 October 2020, BCSDN, as part of CIVICUS’s group of national network organisations (AGNA) and the Global Standard for CSO Accountability, celebrated the Global Accountability Week (GAW) 2020, to promote civil society accountability by presenting CSO accountability initiatives across the world, and to improve the understanding of the dynamic accountability. On the second day of the GAW, BCSDN led a session on CSO Accountability in times of COVID 19.
Introductory remarks on the event were provided by Biljana Spasovska, the Executive Officer, and Marija Vishinova, the Communications and Information Officer at BCSDN. The event was followed by more than 35 CSO international representatives, who had an opportunity to learn more on CSO accountability during crisis from four prominent speakers from India, Argentina, and the Balkans.
During the discussion, the speakers addressed the main challenges that the organizations experienced in keeping accountable amid COVID-19 and what accountability practices and creative solutions were implemented during the pandemic. It was emphasized that during this period, CSOs learned to be transparent in the decision-making process, to communicate clearly with stakeholders, to adapt their activities in a more transparent way, and to adjust to the digital approaches. They have also shared examples from the local community where the CSOs, due to the COVID-19 challenges, shifted their work online, discovered new places to continue with their ongoing activities, and provided help and services to their beneficiaries vulnerable categories in the society. CSOs adapted their programs to address the peoples’ needs, being a reliable and trustworthy partner in the communities they serve.
Another powerful lesson learnt is about protecting civic space. Despite Governments’ restrictions and limited space of their groundwork, CSOs continued to guarantee human rights and civic freedoms. The fight against the pandemic is also testing the civic space of all countries.
The event concluded that CSOs should continue providing services to the most vulnerable categories and carry on with their monitoring and advocacy efforts to cope with the upcoming challenges. Eventually, civil society organizations should communicate better their work, adding to their relevance and visibility in the long run.