By Inés Pousadela 

“I have been told that my name is on a hit list…but I haven’t been killed yet.” These were the chilling words of Mzama Dlamini, a South African community activist, to a gathering of environmental defenders from all over the world. Many in the audience could personally relate.

Read on: Diplomatic Courier

By Danny Sriskandarajah

The falling levels of public trust in public institutions we see all over the world should be a wake-up call for those of us who support open government. But to rebuild trust we need to rebuild governance from the ground up, and put citizens (back) at the heart of institutions.

Read on: Open Government Partnership 

Escrito por Fabio de Almeida Pinto, Coordenador Executivo do IDS, e Marianna Belalba Barreto, da CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Entre 3 e 5 de setembro, o presidente Michel Temer estará em Xiamen, China, para a 9ª Cúpula dos Brics, onde se reunirá com os líderes de Rússia, Índia, China e África do Sul para discutir e aprofundar a cooperação em comércio internacional, desenvolvimento e segurança.
Leia aqui: Estadão 

 

By Mandeep Tiwana and Cathal Gilbert

As Xiamen prepares to host 2017 summit, the group's vision of a "just, equitable and democratic multi-polar international order" is not served well by its member states' disregard for citizens' voices.

Read on: Asia Times 

 

By Ine van Severen and Corlett Letlojane

President Jacob Zuma heads to China this week to meet with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China at the the 9th Brics Summit. As far as respect for civic space is concerned, South Africa outshines its counterparts in the Brics bloc, whose members together account for more than 40% of the world’s population. But President Zuma now heads to Xiamen with that record looking worse for wear, in the midst of increasing restrictions on South Africans’ basic rights to organise, speak out and take action.

Read on: Mail and Guardian 

By David Kode

Over the last 38 years, particularly since the end of the civil war in 2002, President Dos Santos has ruled Angola through securitisation of the society, repressing all dissent and restricting freedom of expression, association and assembly. Will space for civil participation open up after one of Africa’s longest serving rulers leaves power following elections this week?

Read on: Pambazuka

By Mandeep Tiwana

India played a key moral role in international affairs during the anti-colonial struggles and as a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the cold war. What happened then?

Read on: Open Democracy

 

By Mandeep Tiwana and Tor Hodenfield 

Two challenges – overlapping reporting requirements and less than universal compliance with human rights obligations – could be addressed by involving civil society more meaningfully in substantive processes. Furthermore, it is essential that positions on human rights matters that are taken at the UN Human Rights Council are followed up at the UN General Assembly and, most importantly, are implemented at the local level.

Read on: International Institute for Sustainable Development

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Goldman Sachs’ decision to bailout the Venezuelan government has, unsurprisingly, attracted widespread global condemnation. The transnational firm stands to make a potential windfall profit as Venezuelans continue to face empty shelves and government water cannons daily. Usually it is international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not transnational companies, which occupy the dubious space of government bailouts.

Read on: New Internationalist

Bernadette Johnson interviews CIVICUS’ Secretary General Danny Sriskandarajah on broad trends affecting civil society spaces globally.

We know it’s a cliché, but the world continues to shrink. Events, trends, and emerging ideas in other countries have the potential to affect us all. This is just as true for charities and nonprofits as it is for other parts of society. Whether it’s proposals to end the restriction on partisan activities by charities in the United States, potential curbs on lobbying by charities in the UK, limits on charities accepting foreign funding in Russia, or the day-to-day challenges organizations face in countries like Turkey or Venezuela, we can learn from – and in some cases be warned by – the happenings outside our own borders.

Raed on: Imagine Canada 

By Oliver Henman and Andrew Firmin

Recent protests in Ethiopia have seen people demonstrate in their thousands, angry at their authoritarian government, its favouritism towards those close to the ruling elite, and its failure to share the country’s wealth more equally. The response of the state, in a country where dissent is simply not tolerated, has been predictably brutal: at the height of protests last year hundreds of people were killed, and a staggering estimated 24,000 were arrested, many of whom remain in detention today.

Read on: Inter Press Service

 

By Cathal Gilbert 

There is a growing list of critical problems in the G20's inbox, namely a faltering global economy, terrorist threats in a majority of G20 member states, and a patched-up climate change agreement. Solving these problems will take more than 20 heads of state and their economic ministers. The role of the private sector is widely acknowledged, but the power of civil society is often dismissed. Addressing these expensive and expansive issues requires the will and contribution of the people.

Read on: Al Jazeera

By Kgalalelo Gaebee 

From the large city centres to the rural townships, South Africans are witnessing a nationwide crackdown on their civic rights. Citizens’ ability to speak out, organise and take action on social issues in South Africa is becoming increasingly restricted. For those critical of business and government elites, there are much higher rates of harassment and detention by security forces. Social activist Kgalalelo Gaebee lists five threats to our basic freedoms that we should be concerned about.

Read on: The Daily Vox

After two years of deep thinking and hard work, the global civil society alliance CIVICUS has launched the beta version of the CIVICUS Monitor – the first ever online tool specifically designed to track and rate respect for civic space, in as close to real-time as possible.

By Danny Sriskandarajah

With some of the world’s biggest economies now companies, not states, the benefits for civil society of working more closely with business are clear. Yet, perhaps less well understood, are the benefits for business of defending civic space – the freedom of citizens to organise, speak up and protest governance failings and corruption. The good news is that in one area at least, businesses and civil society are increasingly seeing eye to eye.

Read on: World Economic Forum

By Amy Taylor

We’re living through a crisis of democracy where progressive internationalism is under attack. It’s now clearer than ever that civil society organisations cannot realise the more just, inclusive and sustainable world by acting alone. Instead a collective effort is needed – between civil society, philanthropy infrastructure organisations and others – to achieve the kind of transformative change that we seek.

Read on: Philanthropy in Focus

 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Emerging challenges such as the impending rise of automation calls for new and innovative solutions. Yet sometimes, new problems can also call for old solutions. This is the case with universal basic income, an old idea, which has gained recent renewed interest by experts and policymakers – an idea which could help reduce equality and, by reducing economic insecurity, also promote empowered citizens. Two years into Agenda 2030, the world is changing in ways that would have been hard to predict when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were being agreed. From populist and protectionist politics, to rising inequality and climate change inaction, the changing political and economic landscape calls for bold and brave solutions.

Read on: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

By David Kode and Mouna Ben Garga

In most African countries, freedom of expression, assembly and association are stifled by state and non-state actors through the use of restrictive legislation, policies, and judicial persecution as well as physical attacks, threats and detention of activists and journalists. While these restrictions generally occur when civil society groups speak out in direct opposition to public policy, there is strong evidence that restrictions increase during politically sensitive periods, like elections and prior to constitutional changes on term limits of political leaders. African citizens, activists and organisations are finding new and innovative ways to resist, organise and mobilise in the face of mounting restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Read on: Pambazuka 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Images of protestors flooding the streets – whether in Caracas, Bucharest, Istanbul or Washington DC – send a powerful message to those in power, especially when they are plastered across newspaper front pages. In far too many countries, the response has been to shut down the space for citizens to organise and undermine the ability for dissent to be reported. Even in the most mature of democracies, the ability of citizens to organise and mobilise, and the freedom of journalists to report when they do, are being undermined. In an era of rising populism and spreading curbs on fundamental freedoms, we need to do more to protect civic rights and press freedom.

Read on: Inter Press Service 

By Ellie Stephens and Katie Mattern

We’ve all heard it repeated multiple times in our lives:  we all work better together. The work we do is greater than one individual, and together we can solve the challenges our world and communities face. We’ve also heard this refrain multiple times in our sector, it’s not a revolutionary idea but it’s one that’s seemingly harder and harder to take ownership of in our work.

This adage has never been more important than it is today, as civil society faces an increasing challenge of legitimacy in an evolving world too often dominated by political and financial elites. According to the CIVICUS Monitor, only 3 percent of the world currently lives in countries where fundamental civic rights are respected and enforced, leaving 6 billion people living in countries where freedom of association, assembly, and speech are curtailed.

Read on: Disrupt and Innovate 

By Cathal Gilbert, David Kode and Teldah Mawarire

With reporters under attack the world over, it is imperative that citizens rally to protect press freedom. We live in a time when hard-won human rights protections are at risk of being swept aside by a rising tide of authoritarianism, fear mongering and xenophobia. The resulting global assault on fundamental civic freedoms is, in turn, devastating press freedom and exposing an increasing number of journalists to the threat of censure, the loss of livelihood and physical attack.

Read on: News24

People around the world are living longer. In 2015, 12.3% of the world’s population was aged 60+. By 2050 this will soar to 21.5%. It may be daunting, but it is a triumph of development.

By Cathal Gilbert, Dom Perera and Marianna Belalba

Today we launch ratings for all UN Member States on the CIVICUS Monitor – the first ever online tool specifically designed to track and rate respect for civic space, in as close to real time as possible.

Closing space for civil society is undermining the ability of citizens to organise and mobilise. In an interview with Guardian Global development professionals network, CIVICUS Secretary General Danny Sriskandarajah, speaks about the restrictions to civic space around the world. 

Read on: The Guardian 

By Cathal Gilbert, Dom Perera, and Marianna Belalba

Recent elections and referendums in a growing number of countries from Turkey to the USA and beyond are producing leaders and policies, which directly threaten some of the core principles of democracy.  In an increasing number of established and fledgling democracies, we see ruling parties violating the fundamental freedoms to speak-out, rally behind a cause and get involved in a social movement.

Read on: Inter Press Service 

By Mandeep Tiwana

It’s no secret that democracy is facing a global stress test. Divisive politicians are creating a chasm between the majoritarian impulses of electoral democracy and the inclusive strands of constitutional democracy. The former emphasises a simplistic ‘winner takes all’ mentality to advance partisan political agendas while the latter accommodates dissent and minority voices through checks and balances. Notably, civil society activists and organisations speaking truth to power and seeking inclusion in decision making are facing severe hurdles as civic space appears to be backsliding in several democratic countries.

Read on: Open Democracy

By Mandeep Tiwana and Andrew Firmin

Donald Trump’s presidency, recent protests in Russia and South Africa and the referendum to consolidate presidential power in Turkey have reignited debate about an emerging form of macho conservative politics called ‘Putinism’. This new form of politics is shaping contemporary notions of democracy while undermining the international rules-based system and harming civil society.

Read on: Diplomatic Courier

 

 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Ask yourself these four questions. Can I criticise my head of state on Twitter? Can I join a human rights group to campaign for change? Can I take part in a peaceful protest outside government buildings? And can I do all of these things while knowing that my government will not just protect me but will actually enable my right to organise, speak out and take action on issues that matter to me?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then congratulations. You are in the very lucky, and sadly very tiny, minority of people who live in the 26 countries which, today, have “open” civic space.

Read on: Huffington Post

By Teldah Mawarire and Sara Brandt

Around the world, civic spaces are shrinking. In many countries, activists are under threat as governments increasingly use the law and violence as tools of oppression, according to a new report. For women human rights defenders, this means their bodies have become the battleground on which the fight for civil liberties is being waged.

Read on: Mail and Guardian: Bhekisisa

 

By Danny Sriskandarajah and Julia Sanchez 

There has never been a better time for Canada to show progressive leadership globally in support of inclusive and open societies that respect human rights. As the government prepares a new budget and a new approach to international assistance, the stage is set for Canada to put its money where its mouth is and support its values, at home and abroad.

Read on: iPolitics

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Civil society is under fire—sometimes literally—in many countries and in all regions of the world. Governments are clamping down on fundamental civic freedoms. This year’s Global Risks Report highlights the threat to civic space, noting “a new era of restricted freedoms and increased governmental control could undermine social, political and economic stability and increase the risk of geopolitical and social conflict.”

Read more: BRINK

By Amjad Mohamed Saleem

For many people around the world, faith is embedded in cultures, practices and communities. Earlier this month, World Interfaith Harmony week taught us that religious practices and perspectives continue to be sources of values that nourish an ethics of multicultural citizenship commanding both solidarity and equal respect. Historically, spiritual heritage has often provided humanity the capacity for personal and social transformation. 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

It’s a global phenomenon, already exerting a profound social and economic impact in both rich and poor countries. So why are so few development professionals talking about population aging? Our planet’s rapidly shifting demography has profound implications for our development plans, yet the two issues seem to be linked consistently only by those specialist organizations that have a particular focus on aging. This needs to change. If our post-2015 development framework is to be effective and legitimate, evolving population dynamics will need to be taken into account across the board.

Read more: AARP International: The Journal

By Leave No One Behind Partneship and ADD International

Pushpa Rani had pneumonia when she was eight years old, which left her extremely weak. Eventually, she lost all movement in her legs. Pushpa joined a women's self-help group, and later a disabled person's organisation, supported by Action on Disability and Development (ADD) International.

By Cathal Gilbert 

In some Open Government Partnership (OGP) member countries, the threats to peaceful dissent and activism are extremely grave. Examples include the assassinations of five social leaders in just one week in Colombia, the police’s use of tear gas and water cannons to disperse student protests in Honduras, the four-hour detention and questioning of a newspaper editor in Liberia and the murder of a community radio journalist in Mexico. These OGP countries are part of a much broader, global trend in which we see that at least 3.2 billion people live in countries where there are serious violations of some of our most cherished and basic rights.

Read on: Open Government Partnership 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Oxfam’s latest estimate that just eight super-rich people – down from 62 last year and 388 just six years ago – own more wealth than the poorest half of the world population is a clarion call to change the way we think about and try to tackle inequality.

Read on: Inter Press Service

By Danny Sriskandarajah

The long-term health of all societies depends on the ability of individuals to come together to share new ideas, promote social cohesion and advance shared interests for mutual benefit. But the freedom and space to do this—civic space—is increasingly under attack.

Read on: BRINK

By Elizabeth Stephens 

In a speech shortly after the November election, President Barack Obama urged anti-Trump protesters not to be silent. Yet, the number and attendance of events meant to challenge the values embodied by a Trump presidency dwindled exponentially months after election night. Why is this?

Read on: Capitol Hill Times 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

The closing of civic space is not just about people’s right to organize or protest in individual countries. This year’s Gobal Risks Report, published last week by the World Economic Forum ahead of its annual Davos meeting, looks in detail at the risks posed by threats to governments clamping down on fundamental civic freedoms. The report points out that, “a new era of restricted freedoms and increased governmental control could undermine social, political and economic stability and increase the risk of geopolitical and social conflict.”

Read on: Open Democracy 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Many of the business and political leaders gathering in Davos this week will be focused on how to protect the global economic order - and their interests - after a year of major political and social upheavals. That is the last thing they should be doing. For me, the greatest lesson from 2016 is that we need to build new mechanisms for airing political grievances and addressing economic frustrations.

Read on: Huffington Post

By Gayoon Baek

On the 25th of September 2016, a 70-year old farmer died in South Korea of a brain haemorrhage after 317 days unconscious. Since then, people have held candlelight vigils and a daily mass in front of the hospital where he passed away. Those unfamiliar with his story might wonder why this old farmer’s death caused such a public response in South Korean society.

By Bihter Moschini


In 2015, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Tunisian civil society. At the close of last year, one of the nominees for the same prize was another civic group, the Syrian White Helmets. These are important acknowledgements of civil society’s role in achieving peaceful, transformed and sustainable societies. Paradoxically though, we are living in a time where civic space is rapidly shrinking across the world and across the Arab region, and one wonders how the year ahead will fare. 

By Danny Sriskandarajah and Elisa Peter 

Today, natural resource campaigners are facing increasingly virulent push-back from political leaders and powerful corporations intent on defending vested interests. From dam construction on the Honduran Gualcarque River, to gold mining in the Apuseni Mountains of Western Romania; from pulpwood plantations in Indonesian Sumatra to oil drilling in the Caspian Sea, all over the world, projects involving the exploitation of natural resources are sparking strong reactions from local communities – and not without consequence. 

Read on: Thomson Reuters Foundation 

Español

By Tor Hodenfield

Tribal leaders’ protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota have been showing how both environmental and human rights are so difficult to defend in the US.

Read on: Open Democracy

 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

For those of us interested in social justice, democracy and human rights around the world, this Human Rights Day comes at the end of an annus horribilis. From the streets to the internet, the space for citizens to organise and mobilise is being shut down across the world, including in mature democracies.

Read on: The Elders

By Davis Adieno 

Demand is growing for gender data and targeted solutions for challenges unique to women, men, girls or boys. Data, accountability and sustainable development expert Davis Adieno explains the challenges and opportunities of achieving gender equality through the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read on: Open Data Institute  

By Ine Van Severen

Imagine the following scenario: as a donor you come across an informal community group with a great idea that would substantially benefit the community. Downside? It’s an informal group, a loose network of activists, with no prior experience but with an excellent reputation in the community. Sounds familiar?

Read on: Alliance Magazine 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Around the world, the freedom of citizens to protest, to mobilise and to speak out is being contested and restricted. According to the CIVICUS Monitor, over 3.2 billion people now live in countries where civic space is repressed or closed, with serious violations of civic space recorded in 109 countries. Governments are cracking down on protest, brutally silencing dissent, intimidating and murdering human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists. Civil society actors find themselves increasingly vilified as the destabilising agents of foreign powers. The scale of our global rights crisis is staggering.

Read on: Council on Foundations 

By  Ine Van Severen

It’s undeniable: the space for civil society organisations (CSOs) and philanthropy is shrinking. According to new research by CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks trends in the conditions for civil society in countries around the world, 3.2 billion people live in countries where citizens’ freedoms of association, assembly or expression are restricted.

Read on: Alliance Magazine 

By Danny Sriskandarajah

It is now confirmed that Fiji will be chairing the next United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany. This is welcome news as the islands of the Pacific arguably have the most to lose – and the most to gain – when it comes to sustainable development. As a region of the world that is home to some of our most vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities, destined to suffer the worst effects of climate change, the Pacific perhaps best embodies the importance of ‘leaving no-one behind’.  

Read on: Pacific Islands News Association

 

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