Terms of reference (TOR) should be developed for non-government members of country coordinating mechanisms (CCMs) defining their roles and responsibilities; setting out the term of appointment and the procedure for rotation; and identifying criteria for their selection.
This is one of the recommendations of a report on the involvement of non-governmental stakeholders on CCMs released by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN). The report was written by Ivan Varentsov, Regional Coordinator of the Civil Society Action Team (CSAT) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) which is housed at EHRN.
The report summarises the different approaches used to select CCM members representing the non-government sectors; describes practices that could help improve the selection process; and presents several recommendations. The report also documents some of the problems related to the participation of the non-government sector in CCMs in the EECA region.
The report is based on the findings from visits to several EECA countries by the author, and from 30 semi-structured interviews conducted with CCM members from all sectors; and on the personal experiences of the author in facilitating elections for non-government CCM members in two countries in the region.
The report said that in recent years, “non-state actors have had more opportunities to engage in active collaboration within CCMs and the voices of key affected communities and vulnerable groups are better heard and taken into account” than was the case previously.
For example, the CCM in Belarus elected members representing men who have sex with men, sex workers and opioid substitution therapy patients, and selected a representative of the TB community. A member of the constituency of persons living with HIV was elected Vice-Chair of the CCM.
However, the report said, in some countries many problems remain. These include the following:
- there is a low level of activity and interest in the CCM;
- the procedures for allocating seats to the non-government sector are vague;
- communications between CCM members and their constituencies is poor; and
- the election and selection of non-government CCM members is done without involvement of the affected constituencies.
According to the report, in those countries where the recent CCM elections can be considered open and transparent, one of two election models was used: on-site elections and online elections. “Other countries used a formalized approach to select CCM members, which in most cases, couldn’t be called open and transparent,” the report said.
A situation that is not uncommon, the report said, is where CCMs, “eager to show compliance with Global Fund requirements, take over all the organizing and coordinating functions to select NGO representatives, instead of just providing the non-government sector with the necessary technical support to do it themselves.”
One section of the report is devoted to a description of how CCM elections should be organised.
The report described several approaches for improving the participation of non-government sectors on CCMs, including the following:
- establishing thematic working groups on CCMs where representatives of the non-government sector who are not CCM members can participate;
- ensuring that CCM committees have representation from the non-government sectors;
- selecting alternates as well as CCM members during elections; and
- broad, timely and regular distribution of information about CCM activities and participatory opportunities for civil society.
The report said that the development of TOR would enable non-government CCM members (and candidates for the positions) to understand what their constituency expects from them; who they should report to as CCM members and how they should report; how they are supposed to formulate their position on certain issues; and what kind of support they can expect from the constituency.
The report recommended that budgets submitted to the Global Fund to obtain funding for the CCM include money for electing non-government members of the CCM.
The report also recommended that fund portfolio managers conduct regular reviews of relevant documents which define CCM rules and procedures, and provide recommendations for improvement.
Finally, the report recommended that CCM members representing the non-governmental sector improve the quality and effectiveness of their work by establishing advisory groups comprised of constituency representatives.
The report, entitled “Theory and Practice of Involving Non-Governmental Stakeholders in CCM Activities, Based on Practices in Selected Countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” is available online in both English and Russian.