3 Questions to Jean-Marc Boivin – The FORUS, a unique International platform of NGOs | September 27, 2018
The FORUS, formerly known as the International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP / FIP), held its General assembly last June. On this occasion, Jean-Marc Boivin, Head of Institutional Relations at HI and member of Coordination SUD’s board, was elected treasurer of the FORUS. We asked him to give us some insight in the involvement […]
The FORUS, formerly known as the International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP / FIP), held its General assembly last June. On this occasion, Jean-Marc Boivin, Head of Institutional Relations at HI and member of Coordination SUD’s board, was elected treasurer of the FORUS. We asked him to give us some insight in the involvement of HI in the International Platform of NGOs.
What is the FORUS?
The FORUS is a global network of 69 national NGO platforms and 7 regional coalitions, representing more than 22 000 NGOs around the world, in Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific. It is the only permanent network (unlike time-limited alliances) that brings together National and Regional Development NGO Platforms, where countries from northern and southern hemispheres benefit from equitable representation and influence in all processes and governance of the organisation.
It was created in 2008 with the mission of broadening Civil Society’s space to participate in global debates and defend its vision of an equitable world. Indeed, its unique composition, rooted at both national and regional level, allows the platform to influence local and global policy processes contributing to sustainable development, peace, democracy and justice.
What are the purposes and ambitions of the network?
Since 1992 and the Earth Summit in Rio, Civil society actors have increasingly engaged in international negotiations on sustainable development. In 2008, in Accra, the international community even recognised civil society actors as “development actors in their own right”. However Civil society organizations (CSOs) around the world are making the same alarming observation that governments fail to walk the talk: civil society space and freedom are shrinking everywhere, due to financial, political and legislative barriers, preventing CSOs to develop the capacity and resources to engage strategically in genuine dialogue with their governments at local, national, regional and international levels.
The members of the FORUS believe that civil society has a crucial role to play in a world facing global development challenges. They established the Platform as a global partnership seeking to create the conditions and capacities for the effective and efficient participation of civil society actors in official negotiations: fostering collaboration amongst its members, strengthening the capacity of national NGO platforms and their organisations and influencing global/international public policies to promote an enabling environment for CSOs.
The mobilisation of CSOs is namely central for the implementation of the Agenda 2030, adopted by world leaders in 2015. Fostering citizen awareness and participation to promote a fair and sustainable world, CSOs are legitimate interlocutors in local and global governance, on the operationalisation of the agenda. NGO Platforms unite the voices of their members and should be recognized as legitimate and credible partners at the global level.
Why is HI involved in the network?
Being a member of FORUS is a good opportunity for multiple reasons.
HI is deeply convinced that strategic involvement in coalitions can have an impact on the global policy agenda. Being part of different CSO coalitions has allowed our organisation to achieve numerous milestones, for example disarmament treaties in the fight against armed violence. Indeed global coalitions can achieve more widespread policy changes within the global political spectrum than any single organisation could attain.
FORUS is an international network which allows numerous NGOs of all sizes to make their voices heard all around the world. The diversity of its composition is a way to outreach to a wider and more diverse group of stakeholders at different levels, to broaden perspective and understanding of global challenges and issues for sustainable development. It is also a forum dedicated to building the capacity of its members, allowing them to exchange information, skills, experience, tools, opportunities. At HI, we believe that it is important and timely to have such an organisation.
For our organisation, the FORUS opens interesting perspectives to enlarge HI visibility, networks and connections, eventually contributing to enhance HI credibility and influence for policy change in the three core domains of its advocacy.
You can learn more about FORUS on their website: http://forus-international.org/fr
Jean-Marc Boivin began as a specialized educator and worked in a specialised center and a “social emergency” service along with people and families facing social exclusion for 10 years. He then focused on the coordination of social and professional inclusion policies in favour of persons with disabilities and other marginalised people, working with local authorities and social business for 9 years. He joined Handicap International in 1999 as program director before taking charge of the political action and advocacy of the organisation in 2003.
He was appointed Managing Director of Handicap International France in 2010. Since 2014, Jean-Marc Boivin is the Head of Institutional Relations of HI Federation and HI Institute for Humanitarian Action.