One of the longest-standing global civil society networks at the intersection of democracy and conflict transformation is Partners Network. Their request for support focused on re-thinking their governance and network structure. The diversity of its 20+ members’ locations, organisational maturity, size and priorities led them to near paralysis, despite a strong shared identity and continued desire to collaborate.
Following extensive consultations, the Network Assembly in 2019 resulted in clear decisions and infused a new life into the Network ahead of its 30th anniversary.
It refocused its purpose to mutually supportive learning and adopted a new governance structure that embedded regional representation and shared leadership. Additional support has since been provided to operationalize the structure, including the development of a knowledge-sharing platform and investment in online facilitation tools.
Partners Network now convenes around 30 events annually and has seen a dramatic increase in attendance, with all members engaging in the regional structure introduced in the governance model. Members have also joined forces on research projects, fundraising and advocacy, for instance successfully mobilising against a restrictive civil society law in Serbia. Finally, the change process has enabled the emergence of youth leaders: 10-12 “early professionals” from 8 countries have become a strong propositional force in the group previously limited to the Directors.