WE EXIST TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY AND CITIZEN ACTION
AROUND THE WORLD
During the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 8-27 September 2014, CIVICUS and its partners made a number of interventions to promote the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders. CIVICUS co-organized several panel discussions focusing on unwarranted restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression requiring the Council’s further attention. In addition, eight joint and stand-alone oral statements were issued to highlight pressing thematic and country specific human rights concerns.
In parallel to the Council session events, CIVICUS co-organized six panel discussions to help identify emerging global trends in civil society restrictions and reflect on the essential measures States and the UN must take to protect the spaces in which civil society operate. The events, including on Bahrain, Ethiopia, and Yemen, provided crucial ingresses for human rights defenders to discuss the challenges they face at the national level and examine their governments’ adherence to international human rights obligations.
We write to you as members of the Civic Space Initiative, a global program jointly implemented by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the World Movement for Democracy, who are committed to the creation of an enabling environment for civil society.
In April 2013, we made a joint submission on “Enabling Environment for Civil Society” to the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons. The submission highlighted cascading restrictions impeding the work of civil society actors around the globe and emphasized the centrality of civil society organisations (CSOs) to development.
We are deeply concerned that there is no explicit recognition of an “enabling environment for civil society” in the OWG’s proposal on Sustainable Development Goals and urge that the UN Secretary General’s synthesis report highlights this issue. In addition, we urge that the report reinforces the key role of civil society in development.
Over 40 civil society organisations have sent a joint letter to members of the UN Human Rights Council to support a landmark resolution on civil society space. The resolution, which will be voted on this week, mandates the OHCHR to create practical recommendations on how to effectively protect civil society space at the international, regional and national level.