Evaluation of shrinking civic space: Impediments, challenges, possibilities and strategies of change; Russia, Hong Kong, Israel, Palestine and Egypt
Introduction and Purpose of the evaluation
The sustained involvement of an active citizenship and civil society in the public matters of the state, society and local community is part and parcel of a genuine democracy, i.e. a democracy that goes beyond the formal aspects of electoral processes and legal and constitutional framework. The activism of citizens and civil society organisations (CSOs) contribute to democracy and human rights through vital functions as monitoring and holding the power elites and institutions accountable; proposing alternative analysis and policy voices to the dominant narratives and pushing for progressive, transformative reforms. The CSOs, moreover, provide opportunities and forums for people for a meaningful schooling in the art of democratic consultations, meetings and peaceful constructive conflict management. It is, therefore, that supporting vibrant, independent, democratic and effective civil society organisations constitute one of the Palme Center´s basic missions. However, the functions of active citizenry and CSOs can be and are curtailed not only by authoritarian states but even by political regimes with formal democratic aspects.
The present evaluation aims to provide a context-based description of the formal procedures (laws, rules, regulations etc) and actual ways (political, security and police, financial, pressure, incitement etc.) through which political regimes and power elites block and curtail the emergence and growth of vibrant, independent, democratic and effective CSOs preventing them, thus, from performing their functions. It aims, moreover, to explore evidence- based illuminating examples of whether, how and why CSOs completely vanish or, on the contrary, adapt and continue to fulfil their functions on the backdrop of civic space shrinking. Furthermore, the evaluation is aimed to bring some understanding of how likeminded actors as the Palme Center handles the issue of shrinking civic space in relation to their local partners. An addition aim of the evaluation is to provide informed ways, channels and forms that help the Palme Center to accomplish its mission to support (politically, capacity building, financially etc) the growth of vibrant, independent, democratic and effective CSOs working within the context of curbed civic space.
The purpose of the evaluation is to provide evidence-based understanding, lessons learned and recommendations on how the Palme Center best can support the development of independent, democratic, viable and effective CSOs. The evaluation’s analysis and recommendations are expected to contribute to the ongoing programming, strategy and operational processes at the Palme Center.
The evaluation will involve some of the Palme Center staff and at least 30 local partners (existed or former) from different countries in which the Palme Center operate.
The Olof Palme International Center with its 27-member organisations, constitute an active hub of the Swedish labour movement’s international work articulated through trade union, political party and civil society organisations. These organisations represent more than one hundred years’ experience of promoting political and civic engagement, democratization and poverty reduction. Through our development partnerships, we seek to empower people to change their own lives. The Palme Center has its main office in Stockholm and several local offices.
- A context-based description of the formal procedures (laws, rules, regulations etc) and actual ways (political, security and police, financial, pressure, incitement etc.) through which states block and curtail the emergence and growth of vibrant, independent, democratic and effective CSOs.
- Discussion of evidence- based illuminating examples of whether and, if the answer is positive, in what ways CSOs adapt and continue to fulfil their functions irrespective of the civic space shrinking.
- Identification of best practices within other likeminded actors (donors, international NGOs, alliances etc) for dealing with the shrinking civic space and supporting CSOs including in terms of security, operations, growth, organisational capacity building, alliances.
- Concrete recommendations for the Palme Center’s work to deal with the shrinking civic space including ways, channels and forms to support the growth of vibrant, independent, democratic and effective CSOs politically, capacity building, financially etc.
- Identification of local, regional and international best practices with regards to expectations on partners, follow up procedures and accountability towards donors and back donors.
The evaluation should include relevant persons from the Palme Center’s program managers, local staff, and partner organisations (existed or even former) in Russia, Belarus, Hong Kong, Palestine, Israel and Egypt. The selection of persons and organisations who are most relevant to the aims of the evaluation is to be discussed between the Palme Center and the evaluators.
The evaluation will take place in Stockholm and via Skype or any other functional social media tool. The evaluation work will start with a dialogue between the OPC and the consultant, whereby the concrete methods of evaluation, assessment questions, number of individual interviewees and related activities and timeframe will be defined more specifically.
The evaluation is thought to be a thorough analysis based on solid empirical observations. The evaluation should, thus, be based on 1) a desk study that provides an account of the existed international (including Swedish) understanding of this issue; 2) a description of the existing, relevant documents at the Palme Center including the strategy and theory of change; 2) individual interviews with the Palme Center staff, local staff and selected project partners; 3) an in-depth analysis of the empirical observations and reflections that relate to the international understanding of the issue.
The evaluator team should use a clear analytical framework and methodology that are relevant to the issue of shrinking civic within authoritarian or formally democratic contexts. The methodology should be informed by a relevant theoretical background while analysing concrete issues and processes, positive changes and challenges.
A detailed inception report is expected from the evaluation team that wins the contract two weeks after the start of the evaluation. The inception report should present a concrete timeframe and methodology. The inception report should also clarify the evaluation criteria. The standard OECD/DAC criteria is the starting point of the evaluation criteria that can be further concretized. The Palme Center shall approve the inception report.
The assignment will include the following methods;
- Desk study/ document review:
- Relevant texts in the Palme Center strategy and policy documents;
- Relevant material from UN, other international organisations as well as up to date research.
- Relevant texts from SIDA and other Swedish aid development organisations;
- Semi-structured interviews with Palme Center staff:
- Semi-structured interviews with local partners
Interviews with the involved persons from the Palme Center can be carried out in English whereas with the local partners can a translation be required. The Palme Center will provide the relevant cooperation documents and assist with introduction to the partners organisations and coordination of contacts.
It is suggested that the interviews will be semi-structured focusing on getting in-depth answers and stories of change, challenges and impact.
Timeframe and duration
The duration of the evaluation is expected to be approximately 3 weeks, during the period February 15, 2019 to May 15, 2019, including the preparatory reading and presentation of the final report. The Palme Center will request a first draft of the evaluation report on the May 7th, 2019. The Palme Center and the involved partner organisations will provide comments within seven working days. The deadline for the final version is May 15, 2019.
The target groups for the evaluation report are the Palme Center and the CSO partners.
Reporting shall be made in the form of a written report in English, not exceeding 35 pages. The report shall describe facts and observations, make analysis, draw conclusions and provide recommendations.
The evaluation report shall at least contain;
- The purpose of the evaluation
- The scoop of the evaluation, methodology and limitations
- International perceptions of the issue, impartial observations, analysis, reflections, conclusions and recommendations
- Attachments (ToR, reference list, list of people interviewed and in which location, interview questions, etc.)
The report shall also be presented in an oral presentation at the Palme Center.
The Palme Center will be the sole owner of the results of the assignment.
Requirements on the evaluator
The Palme Center expects a team of consultants that have the following qualifications:
- A documented strong capacity in in-depth analysis based on desk studies, interviews and reports as well as a strong capacity of reporting results and conclusions.
- Documented theoretical and practical experiences of Swedish development cooperation and/or international aid.
- Documented previous experience in PM& E Methods as well as documented practical experiences in the evaluation work and methodology.
- Have an excellent knowledge of the English language, speaking and writing.
- Have a relevant theoretical knowledge of/ worked practically with the issues of democratisation processes and challenges, role of civil society especially in authoritarian settings.
- Documented previous experience of the democracy support through Swedish party affiliated organisations or experience of democracy support through other international party affiliated alliances.
- An economically advantageous tender.
The tenders must include a maximum budget frame including Swedish VAT.
The payment will be made as follows:
First payment: 50 percent at the start of the assignment after the agreement has been signed and upon receiving an invoice from the consultant.
Second payment: 50 percent of the budget after the approval of the evaluation report and upon receiving an invoice from the consultant.
Tenders shall be submitted via email to email@example.com no later than February 4, 2019.
The bid must include curriculum vitae and details of experience in the field, a suggested methodology and timeframe as well as a well-defined budget. The budget should include all estimated costs related to the evaluation, including VAT.
We reserve the right not to accept any of the bids received.
For questions, contact Thair Ismail, firstname.lastname@example.org , +46 (0)70-686 57 72.