Issue No 578 | 22 March 2012
Developing a civil society agenda for 2013
Twenty years since it was first conceived, the CIVICUS alliance is now
in the process of developing new strategic directions that will
position it to remain effective in the face of a changing world. With a
need to empower those parts of civil society whose voices are often not
heard, the CIVICUS Board, responsible for setting our strategy, are
launching a consultative process to engage with all aspects of civil
society and redefine what it means to be an alliance of civil society
and citizen participation. Visit our website to find out how to
participate in this consultation.
Support CIVICUS’s CivNet proposal
CIVICUS has made a proposal to the Knight News
Challenge to build a civil society news network that connects activists
with CSOs to develop a worldwide community of informed, inspired and
committed citizens engaged in confronting the key global challenges of
our time. Read the proposal online and let us know what you think!
Campaigners urge Russia to back UN action
as Syria marks one year of bloodshed
A coalition of 200 CSOs from 27 countries - including
CIVICUS, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, Cairo Institute for Human
Rights Studies and International Federation of Human Rights - is
demanding that the UN Security Council unite and pass a resolution
calling on the Syrian government to stop indiscriminate shelling of
civilian neighbourhoods and other violations of international law, stop
arbitrary arrests and torture and grant urgent access to humanitarian
workers, journalists and human rights monitors. CIVICUS and the Arab
NGO Network for Development took this call to the UN Human Rights
Creating an enabling environment for civil
society: positive noises from Europe
Governments need to take a mainstreaming approach to
providing an enabling environment for civil society. A recent
conference of European Union countries suggests the message might be
hitting home. Read our conference report.
CIVICUS alliance assesses human rights progress in Moldova, Syria, Uganda, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
The UN Human Rights Council, which recently met in
Geneva, Switzerland, saw a number of countries come under the spotlight
as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, in which States
report on their human rights records. CIVICUS alliance members are
active in monitoring countries' progress on human rights, and made
inputs to the UPR processes on Moldova, Syria, Uganda, Venezuela and
Zimbabwe, available on our website
Reflections from a conference on democratic transition in the Arab region
CIVICUS’ Policy and Advocacy Manager Mandeep Tiwana
took part in a Oxfam Novib workshop on Democratic Transition in the
Arab Region: Shaping State-Civil Society relationships. Notably,
the need to connect regionally at the government, civil society and
people to people level to share good practices on democratic reform was
emphasised. Read his blog.
Jamaica, the Caribbean and global governance
In his guest blog, Professor Neville Duncan, Director
of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies at
the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, shares his thoughts on the
failure of global governance and the impact of this on the often
CIVICUS sees warning signs of impending crackdown on civil society in Malawi
The space for civil society is showing signs of
shrinking in Malawi, given recent statements from the President’s
Office that CSOs and the media should not make adverse comments about
the President. The Southern African Development Community and Malawi’s
international partners need to engage with Malawi’s government to
ensure it respects the rights of civil society and the media.
CIVICUS to launch first annual State of Civil Society report in April 2012
CSO resourcing will be one of the thematic areas of focus in CIVICUS’
first annual State of Civil Society report. A key question for CSOs is
whether they have sufficient resources to respond to the connected
crises the world faces, and how those crises are affecting their
funding position. Many CSOs are reporting declining funding, volatility
and changing prioritisation of donors, and in response are giving more
attention to fundraising and diversification of funding sources,
particularly non-donor sources. Different types of CSOs in different
locations report varying experiences and responses, suggesting part of
the solution lies in the formation of new coalitions and support
networks between different types of CSOs. Read the full report, April
Welcome to CIVICUS!
CIVICUS has recently welcomed a few new faces to the international
secretariat team. Tor Hodenfield joins us in our Geneva office as an
Advocacy Intern and Ntombizodwa Mahlangu is our new Intern in the
Resource Mobilisation Unit. Akashni Pillay joins the Policy and
Advocacy team and Serge Kubanza joins the World Assembly team. Alison
Rousseau is our new Finance Intern and John Motssen our new Management
Accountant. Welcome all!
On the road to Rio
Rio+20: no global goals without accountability say over 20 UN experts
In an open letter to world governments, a group of 22 UN independent
human rights experts called on States to incorporate universally agreed
international human rights norms and standards with strong
accountability mechanisms into the Rio+20 sustainable development
Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Sustainable development goals: the critical outcome from Rio+20
International momentum may be building around the
notion of sustainable development goals to be defined at Rio+20. The
substantial work undertaken by CSOs has been utilised by governments
and other stakeholders.
Source: Stakeholder Forum
Battle on for the right to water and sanitation at Rio+20
Governments were accused at the World Water Forum of
backtracking on commitments to access to water and sanitation as a
human right, and efforts are being made to remove the right to water
and sanitation from the Rio+20 text. The global water justice movement
will be seeking at Rio+20 to defend and expand on this right.
Source: Council of Canadians
The Value of Community Philanthropy: Results of a Consultation
Community philanthropy can be a powerful vehicle
for strengthening civil society and enhancing aid effectiveness,
according to a new report released by the Aga Khan Foundation USA and
the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The report makes the case that
increasing local ownership and local accountability leads to stronger
communities and should be a main focus of development aid
practitioners. The results of consultations demonstrate the importance
of foundations and development agencies partnering with local
communities to achieve lasting development outcomes.
Source: Mott Foundation
The New Generation of Community Foundations
Community foundations have enjoyed considerable growth
in recent years, not only in their number but also in their character.
This emergence of a 'new generation' of community foundations is
occurring within a larger context of other emerging forms of 'social
solidarity' movements and institutions, including rural development
philanthropy, member based organising and other hybrid forms of
citizen-led actions. This new report, published by the Global Fund for
Community Foundations and the Coady International Institute, explores
the emerging community foundation phenomenon in the context of
disillusionment with conventional channels of international aid.
Source: Global Fund for Community Foundations
Sri Lanka’s north: a recipe for renewed conflict
The Sri Lankan military’s control over the political
and economic life of northern Sri Lanka is deepening alienation and
anger and threatening sustainable peace. Two new reports from the
International Crisis Group examine how de facto military rule and
various forms of government-sponsored ‘Sinhalisation’ of the
Tamil-majority region are impeding international humanitarian efforts,
reigniting a sense of grievance among Tamils, and weakening chances for
a real political settlement to devolve power.
Source: International Crisis Group
Post-2015 policymaking - what might happen
This new policy paper outlines three potential
scenarios for the post-MDG policy process. There is a need, it
concludes, for more clarity on the consultation process, some
deadlines, and more understanding of the impacts of businesses.
Alliance magazine focuses on ‘resilience investing’
The March issue of Alliance magazine argues that
philanthropists and investors must begin to think about how to respond
to the crisis of ecological limits that humanity faces. This includes
supporting new business models to scale, helping to shift basic
economic and political fundamentals, and boosting the resilience of
oceans, rivers, forests and fertile soils.
Operationalising the Responsibility to Protect: Building Trust and Capacities for the Third Pillar Approach
The new international norm of the responsibility to
protect to prevent crimes against humanity remains contested as a
result of last year’s controversial NATO action in Libya. This new
policy brief calls attention to the need to promote trust-building,
consensus and collaboration, including roles for civil society.
Source: Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation
Democracy and governance in Africa - online platform
Soul Beat Africa and the Institute for Development
Studies, UK offer a new online networking space to help people and
organisations share information, build professional connections,
identify opportunities for collaborative programming, share lessons
learned, and explore ways to improve the impact of democracy and
governance work in Africa.
Source: The Communication Initiative Network
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Malaysian civil society's growing importance acknowledged
The influence of Malaysia’s civil society has grown
tremendously in recent years as civil society groups mushroom to fill a
vacuum in the democratic space that has been heavily partisan and
political. Malaysia’s Prime Minister has recently said he wants CSOs to
be strategic partners of the government.
Source: The Jakarta Globe
Strategic partnership agreements made with Hungarian CSOs
The influence of CSOs in the preparation and execution
of government decisions is being recognised and strengthened in
Hungary. In March 2012, Hungary’s Ministry of Public Administration and
Justice signed strategic partnership agreements with 47 CSOs.
Gender empowerment still lags far behind in the global village
While the UN recently focussed its Commission on the
Status of Women meeting on the topic of rural women, only an estimated
3% of global official aid to rural development is earmarked for
programmes which have a primary aim of improving gender equality.
African civil society bodies call for a people-oriented approach for Africa Development Bank’s long term strategy
Representatives of African CSOs recently held two days
of partnership talks with the African Development Bank in Nairobi,
Kenya. They called for more engagement with civil society, and the
promotion of dialogue and partnerships between governments, businesses
Source: All Africa
African CSOs demand end of water privatisation
Declaration by African organisations at the Alternative World Water
Forum, Marseille, France, calls for the involvement of civil society in
the management of African water resources.
Source: Alternative World Water Forum
Civil society and accountability in Africa
Recent protests against the removal of fuel subsidy in
Nigeria offer a fresh example of mobilisation that was spontaneous,
infectious and original, and which cut across class, ethnic, religious
and political party divides. The protests demonstrated the soft power
of association and virtual activism.
Source: Daily Times Nigeria
Mexico: a year of a new citizen’s movement
In the last year, Mexico has seen a new people’s movement resisting the heavy civilian price of the domestic war on drugs.
Source: Narco News
New EU-Kazakhstan agreement offers scope to push for human rights progress
CSOs the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Netherlands
Helsinki Committee and International Partnership for Human Rights have
called for the EU to use its negotiations for a new cooperation deal
with Kazakhstan to push for advances in human rights.
Source: Human Rights Education Association
International attention paid to human rights violations in Eritrea
44 countries have called on the government of Eritrea
to end its use of arbitrary detention and torture. Christian Solidarity
Worldwide, Human Rights Concern - Eritrea and the East and Horn of
Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcome this long overdue
attention paid to widespread and systematic human rights violations in
Source: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Burma - time for celebration or concern?
There are hopeful signs in Burma, such as the release
of some prisoners and the upcoming by-elections in which Nobel Peace
Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi will be allowed to run, but these steps
are easily reversible. While the US business community is eager to lift
sanctions to access Burma's rich minerals and natural resources, it is
unclear whether the current reforms are supported by the army, which
continues to wield the real power.
Source: United to End Genocide
CSOs and corporates explore ways of working together
CSOs and corporate social responsibility teams came
together to identify opportunities for alliances at the NGO India 2012
event, held 16 to 18 March in New Delhi.
Source: Deccan Herald
Malaysian CSO wins annual UN population prize
A Malaysian CSO specialising in family planning and
sexual health, the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations of
Malaysia, along with a reproductive health advocate from the United
States, are this year’s recipients of the annual United Nations
Wigwam of hope in Canada
Canada’s indigenous peoples rally to call on the
federal government to redirect budget from F-35 warplanes to Canada’s
number social need – safe, warm, healthy homes combined with
appropriate employment and training.
Source: Frontiers Foundation
CSOs in Tanzania form alliance to end child marriage
Tanzanian CSOs announce a plan to work together and launch an alliance in May 2012.
Source: IPP Media
Change the law on violence against women in Morocco – sign the petition
Article 475 in Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to
avoid prosecution and a long prison sentence by marrying his victim if
she is a minor. Since 2006, the government has promised to strike this
down and pass legislation prohibiting violence against women, but it
hasn't happened yet. Sign the petition for a comprehensive law to stop
violence against women, including repeal of Article 475. Over half a
million people have already done so.
European Commission consultation on CSO support
The European Commission is seeking the views of CSOs
and other stakeholders on the future policy of the European Union on
the support of CSOs in the field of development cooperation in partner
countries. This future policy will be adopted in late 2012. In the
context of the preparation for this policy, the Directorate-General for
Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid is undertaking an online
stakeholder consultation based on its Consultation Paper on CSOs in
development. The paper is available in English, French and Spanish.
Send your contribution to DEVCO-CSO-CONSULTATION@ec.europa.eu before 7
Source: European Commission
Connect the Dots on Climate Impacts Day
5 May 2012 will Connect the Dots on climate change.
Rallies demonstrating the impact of climate change in neighbourhoods
all over the world will each make a dot, and the images from around the
world will be joined up to give a human, global face to the impacts of
climate change. Attend an event, or start your own.
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