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CIDA Cuts to KAIROS Will Devastate Human Rights Work Oerseas

One cannot tell what happens with governments when it comes to issues that pursue justice. CIDA, Canada’s development agency is reported to cut support to KAIROS (as stated below) the main question that remains unanswered is; why has CIDA taken this move…


Attention:     Religion, Foreign, Social and Human Rights Journalists

For Immediate Release                                    Wednesday, 02 December 2009

(Toronto)  The Canadian government’s decision to cut funding to KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives will have a devastating impact on KAIROS’ overseas partners and the thousands of marginalized people in local communities they support, KAIROS announced today.

KAIROS, a church based non-governmental organization that represents seven of Canada’s largest denominations, works on a range of social justice issues, including human rights in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

An official from CIDA called KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery on Monday afternoon, November 30th, to inform her that CIDA would no longer fund KAIROS. Corkery was told that KAIROS no longer fits CIDA priorities.  No other explanation or information was provided.

KAIROS’ current contract with CIDA expired in September, but it had received an extension until November 30th, the day it was informed of the cuts.

“We are disheartened that this longstanding relationship and decades of support by the Canadian government has been ended,” says Corkery.  “KAIROS and the millions of Canadians we represent through our member churches and organizations do not understand why these cuts have been made.”

In a message to Bev Oda, Minister for International Cooperation, requesting an explanation, Corkery writes, “I know of no precedent for the Canadian International Development Agency ending a decades-long funding relationship with a major Canadian organization without notice in writing, with no reason and no transition plan”.

The CIDA-funded overseas program received matching financial support from KAIROS’ member churches, church-related organizations and other donors.  Since 1973, KAIROS, and the church coalitions from which it was formed eight years ago, had received funding from CIDA to support partners working in regions experiencing some of the world’s most egregious human rights violations.

KAIROS’ work is highly regarded in Canada and overseas.  As the November 30th deadline approached, KAIROS member churches, its partners and other organizations had been writing Minister Oda to request that she approve the KAIROS contract which has been sitting on her desk since July awaiting her signature.

One of those letters came from a Colombian group, theOrganización Femenina Popular (the Popular Women’s Group), which has been awaiting CIDA funding through KAIROS.

“As you know, we work in regions in Colombia where armed conflict has resulted in the denial of women’s basic rights. The economic support from KAIROS and CIDA permits us to implement programs which include legal and health services, community kitchens, and other humanitarian assistance that have saved many lives and given possibilities and opportunities to hundreds of women, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and entire families,” Yolanda Becerra Vega, OFP Director General wrote to Bev Oda on Monday.

“In addition to the impact overseas, these cuts are a loss for Canadians,” says Corkery. “KAIROS educates Canadians across the country about Canada’s work for international development. Our work in Canada and overseas expresses Canadian values in upholding human rights, and is informed by excellent analysis of our partners in the Global South.”

The KAIROS contract that just expired received a positive audit and excellent CIDA evaluation this year.  KAIROS submitted its new program proposal for 2009-2013 to CIDA in March 2009.  It went through a lengthy approval process within CIDA up until the Minister’s level and has been waiting for approval from the Minister since July 2009.

The government’s decision comes a week after 57 people were massacred in politically motivated killings in the Philippines, including two lawyers from a human rights organization supported by KAIROS, and just days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to China.

– 30 –



Final Briefing Notes: KAIROS 2009-2013 Proposal

December 2, 2009

Request: That CIDA fund the 2009-2013 KAIROS proposal for international development and public engagement on human rights and ecological sustainability.


KAIROS submitted a 4-year program proposal to CIDA on human rights and ecological sustainability.  The total program cost of the proposal is $9,211,483 over four years (CIDA contributes just over $7 million of that amount).  This is consistent with previous levels of CIDA funding to KAIROS.

  • On November 30, we received a call from the Government of Canada informing us that our 2009-2013 program proposal had been rejected and that KAIROS would no longer be receiving funding from CIDA.  We asked for an explanation and were informed that our program did not fit the Government of Canada’s priorities. This was the last day of an extension to our current proposal.  No written explanation has been provided.
  • This decision, if not reversed, would cut funds to 21 ecumenical and citizen’s organizations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and cut educational work that helps Canadians across the country to develop skills and knowledge in the exercise of their global citizenship.


  • KAIROS, and its precursor organizations, have been funded by CIDA since 1973.  That is over 35 years of positive collaboration between the churches (working ecumenically through KAIROS) and CIDA on international development and public engagement.
  • The KAIROS 2006-2009 proposal received a positive audit report and an excellent evaluation.  The CIDA evaluator described  “positive and measureable progress toward the achievement of the results at the output, outcome and impact levels.”  The evaluator commented that “experience and good judgment is one of the important reasons for their success in achieving results…”.

·     KAIROS staff worked closely with global partners to develop the 2009-2013 program proposal which focused on human rights and ecological justice.  It was submitted to CIDA in March 2009 and went fairly quickly through all levels of approval and arrived on the desk of Bev Oda, the Minister of International Cooperation, in July 2009.  It remained on the Minister’s desk for five months.  Any adjustments to the program requested by our program officer in the approvals phase were made.

  • In September 2009, when our agreement had still not been signed, we were granted a two- month extension on our previous contribution agreement.  During this time we received no communication from the Minister’s office.  On November 30, the last day of this extension, we received the phone call from CIDA informing us that KAIROS would not be funded.

CIDA priorities and human rights

  • With the full support of CIDA staff, and in collaboration with our partners, our proposal was developed within two priority sectors of CIDA: promoting good governance (human rights) and advancing ecological sustainability (reducing the impact of climate change and addressing land degradation).   Our proposal was deemed by CIDA staff to be within CIDA criteria and priorities throughout the approval process.
  • Our proposal places a strong priority on advancing human rights.  States are obliged to protect, respect and ensure fulfillment of human rights.  Canada is expected to collaborate to fulfill these rights, including providing international assistance for these efforts.  Our proposal is one way in which the government can demonstrate that it is providing support to the fulfillment of rights around the globe.
  • Our focus human rights, is completely consistent with the ODA Accountability Act which came into affect in June of 2008.  The act requires all Official Development Assistance “to be consistent with international human rights standards”.

Impact of the decision

  • This decision, if it is not reversed, will have a devastating impact on the work and well-being of our partners overseas, the hundreds of marginalized communities and thousands of the people who have benefited from their programs.  Furthermore, it will decimate our education program in Canada, which enhances Canadian’s commitment to international cooperation.
  • KAIROS supports partners in countries such Sudan, theCongo, the Philippines, and Colombia who face an extreme human rights and humanitarian crises as well as political repression. Many of our overseas partners risk their lives for the work that they do.  KAIROS’ accompaniment, advocacy and education work with partners has saved lives.
  • In the Congo, KAIROS funding means a women’s legal clinic to address rampant gender-based violence will be established.  Loss of this funding to our critical human rights partner, Héritiers de la Justice, compromises this critical work to fight rape as a weapon of war.

         In Sudan, KAIROS is working with Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and its members to mobilize greater action for democratic peace.  The full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan is essential to ensuring basic humanitarian, food security, livelihood needs of women and children and their communities will be met.  Without KAIROS funding, theSCC will not be able to adequately pressure parties to implement this peace agreement.  In a country with very weak civil society networks, SCC has been an essential voice in negotiating and implementing peace.

  • In Indonesia, KAIROS, through CIDA, supports KONTRAS: The Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence.  KONTRAS is highly recognized as a credible human rights organization in Indonesia and internationally, working specifically on human rights monitoring, documentation and advocacy.    KONTRAS plays a lead role in ensuring the Indonesian government investigates past military abuses and compensates victims (and the families of victims) of human rights violations and military atrocities.  Without KAIROS funding, KONTRAS will lose ground on the achievements made over the years in widening democratic space in Indonesiaand will be unable to hold the Indonesian government accountable for national and international human rights covenants.
  • In Colombia, KAIROS supports a grassroots women’s human rights organization, Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), in Magdela Medio, a region that has experienced some of the worst human rights abuses inColombia.   The OFP now has a membership of 5,000 women in the region of Magdalena Medio and runs 22 women’s centers, offering programs which include integrated community development, human rights of women, health and legal services, and education.  In a recent letter the OFP appealed to Minister Oda to continue funding to KAIROS, “so that our sons and daughters grow up without being recruited by armed groups, kidnapped or assassinated – so that they have the right to a dignified life.”

Call to action

KAIROS and partners call on the networks and supporters of KAIROS to meet with their MPs to discuss this critical matter.  Please, respectfully and politely,

-speak about your own positive involvement with KAIROS;

-express grave concern about this decision;

-state KAIROS’ desire to restore our long standing relationship with CIDA;

-emphasize the impacts of this decision on global partners and our work in Canada;

-ask them to call on the Government of Canada to reverse this decision.

Please also write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, and Margaret Biggs, President of, requesting a reversal of the decision.  Please copy your letters to KAIROS



This entry was posted on Mar 23, 2011 by in Int. News.

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