Issue No 581 | 12 April 2012
CIVICUS is proud to present its inaugural
report on the state of civil society. The report, State of Civil
Society 2011, was published on 10 April 2012 and is available at
www.stateofcivilsociety.org. It examines such key current areas for
civil society as the rise of protest and dissent, the enabling and
disenabling environment for civil society, the role of civil society in
response to crisis, the funding situation for civil society and civil
society's role in the multilateral arena. Developed by the CIVICUS
secretariat in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders in the
CIVICUS alliance, the report suggests that civil society faces a
generational opportunity to prove its value as a source of alternatives
at a time of profound global crisis. The report further concludes that
there is a need for new, more broad-based, inclusive coalitions and
communities that take account of the diversity of civil society and the
strengths of different parts of civil society, such as CSOs, community
groups, online activists, the new protest movements, faith-based groups
and trade unions.
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Turning principles into practice: a
successful platform strengthening CSO transparency and accountability
practices in Latin America
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Rendir Cuentas platform (www.rendircuentas.org) has
been working successfully for three years to bridge, connect and
convene CSO practitioners to conceptualise transparency and
accountability principles, map best practices and translate principles
into shared initiatives. Rendir Cuentas convenes a network of 25 focal
organisations and networks in six countries - Argentina, Colombia,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay - which together
represent over 900 organisations. A distinctive feature of the platform
is its profound conviction of the need and power of self-regulation
initiatives, rather than the usual dynamic of CSOs reacting to external
CIVICUS interview with Jose Maungo
Jose Maungo is a human rights activist from the Cabinda
region of Angola. He is the co-founder of the Mpalabanda Association,
which has been denied permission to operate by the Angolan government.
He speaks to CIVICUS about the challenges faced by civil society in the
A slippery slope in Southern Africa
Several Southern African countries, including Angola,
DR Congo, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, appear to be
experiencing a backslide in democratic freedoms, damaging the
reputation of the Southern African Development Community and its
ability to bind its members to common values.
On the road to Rio
Roundtable discussion between CSOs and
members of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Group on Sustainable
Energy for All
On 23 March 2012, representatives from 14 CSOs
participated in a
roundtable discussion with members of the UN Secretary-General's
High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All. The meeting was the
first engagement in a civil society consultation process on the
Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, aimed at providing opportunities
for civil society to engage with members of the High-level Group and
provide inputs. Read the report.
Interactive Dialogue of the General
Assembly on Harmony with Nature
To commemorate International
Mother Earth Day, 18 April 2012, the UN
General Assembly will host an interactive dialogue on harmony with
nature. The dialogue will aim to examine how human activity has damaged
the Earth system, especially by focusing on those areas where damage
has already affected the regenerative capacity of the planet.
United Nations Voluntary Fund 2013 Call for
The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary
Forms of Slavery is now accepting proposals under its 2013 Call for
Applications. The Fund provides grants of up to $15,000 for
organisations offering projects to provide humanitarian, legal and
financial assistance to individuals whose human rights have been
severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery. The
deadline is 31 May 2012.
Funds for NGOs
Snapshot of Democracy global photo contest
The World Youth Movement for Democracy has launched its
second global photo contest. Young people are invited to send in
photographs on one of three themes: emerging human rights defenders,
democracy in my life and challenges to democracy. Winners will be
sponsored to participate in the Seventh Assembly of the World Movement
for Democracy in October 2012. The deadline for entries is 11 May 2012.
World Youth Movement for
Opportunity for an African journalist to
cover African Development Bank meetings
The African Press Organisation will cover the costs of
one African journalist to attend the 2012 African Development Bank
Group (AfDB) meetings in Arusha, Tanzania, May 2012. The winner will
have the opportunity to interview experts and senior officers of AfDB.
The application deadline is 1 May 2012.
African Press Organisation
11th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues - pre-registration open
Pre-registration is open for the 11th Session of the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Forum, to be held from 7 to
18 May 2012 at UN Headquarters in New York, will focus on 'the Doctrine
of Discovery: its enduring impact on indigenous peoples and the right
to redress for past conquests.' Participants will have the opportunity
to discuss their human rights concerns with the UN Special Rapporteur
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Chair of the Expert
Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The deadline for
registration for organisations which have previously attended sessions
is 23 April 2012.
The Global Report on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)
The Global Report on the Situation of women human
rights defenders (WHRDs) seeks to advance the under-recognised
situation of WHRDs. The report offers a contextual analysis of the
environment in which WHRDs work and the violations they face because of
their gender or their work defending gender-based rights.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Caribbean Human Development Report 2012
Crime has become one of the main challenges in
Caribbean countries. The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012,
published by the UN Development Programme, stresses the need to rethink
methods of tackling crime and violence and providing security on the
ground, and to follow approaches that are centred on citizen security
and address the causes of the recent increase in violent crime,
including social, economic and political exclusion.
Financial transaction tax: a human rights
This briefing paper sets out how the establishment of a
financial transactions tax would mark an important step in the
direction of social justice. By placing a small levy on the trading of
bonds, shares and derivative products, the FTT could raise significant
funds which could then be deployed to offset the impacts of the
austerity measures currently being implemented in many countries in
response to economic crisis. The FTT would also help to discourage the
kind of opportunistic speculation which helped cause the crisis.
Download primer here
Center for Economic and
Bribespot is an anonymous, location-based mobile and
web-based application developed for reporting bribes, and to allow
users to see where others have made reports of corruption. Using a
smartphone, or via the Bribespot website, individuals can report
locations where bribes are requested or paid, indicate the size of the
bribe, and the area of government affected by it.
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Bahrain: UNESCO head condemns killing of
The Director-General of UNESCO denounced the killing of
Ahmed Ismael Hassan Al Samadi, a citizen journalist who was shot while
filming a demonstration in the village of Salmabad, and called for an
investigation into his killing.
Canada: the demonisation of dissent
In its post-budget analysis, a prominent Canadian law
firm concluded by saying, "given the political climate and these new
rules, foreign charities funding advocacy in Canada and Canadian
charities funding or doing advocacy (particularly environmental
advocacy) should be very careful." A particular target seems to be
environmental groups campaigning against an oil pipeline project,
reflecting a pattern of demonising critical voices.
Egypt: Freedom House opposes aid waiver
The US-based civil society group Freedom House is
opposing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's $1.3 billion aid waiver
for Egypt because it says military and economic assistance makes it
harder for Washington to press for protections for local and
Middle East Voices
India: civil society seeks effective use of
Right to Information Act
Civil society members have called for better vigilance
to effectively use the Right to Information Act to increase
accountability and transparency in governance, as corruption and
under-utilisation of funds are inhibiting development.
Jordan: civil society at heart of Syrian
Community-based organisations have arguably played the
largest role in helping the thousands of Syrian refugees pouring into
neighbouring Jordan, and act as the first point of contact for many
refugees. CSOs are increasingly trying to coordinate their responses.
Malawi: a new dawn?
It would be too simplistic to think that Malawi's
problems have ended with the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. But
there is now an opportunity for newly appointed President Joyce Banda,
who is also leader of the opposition People's Party, to demonstrate she
can offer a new and more responsive style of leadership, including
towards civil society.
don't follow our example, say Pakistan civil society
A number of CSOs in Pakistan have expressed alarm over
the current political crisis in the Maldives, urging the country not to
make the same mistakes as Pakistan, and calling for the Maldives’
suspension from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
until democracy is restored.
Mexico: our future lies in nature
In Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, a small band of activists
mobilised the community to oppose commercial fishing by powerful
companies. They educated the community and visitors, and agreed a total
ban on fishing. Now they face a new threat from a tourism development,
and have been forming new alliances between local and global CSOs. The
experience of Cabo Pulmo suggests a need to challenge the rules and
systems that perpetuate inequality and increase divides between rich
South Sudan: CSOs express concern over
invitation to Sudan President
In an open letter, South Sudanese CSOs, with the
support of human rights organisations across the African continent,
have expressed deep concern about the invitation that the government of
South Sudan has extended to Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to attend an
April 2012 presidential summit in Juba, South Sudan.
Syria: new signs of coordination in civil
Different non-violent groups seem to be getting
together and organising common actions in Damascus, Syria, in the face
of very tight security and restrictions on communications and
movements. The loose Freedom Days consortium seeks to "topple the
regime through peaceful resistance and civil disobedience."
Ukraine: new, broader civil society law
After more than four years of public advocacy,
parliament in Ukraine recently passed a new civil society act that
seeks to remove legislative and administrative barriers for registering
CSOs and broadens the scope, geographical reach and type of activities
they can conduct. The bill was passed by an absolute majority of
members of parliament and brings Ukraine's legislation closer to norms
outlined by the Council of Europe.
UK: charity tax relief anger could also
spread to USA
UK government measures to cut down on tax avoidance by
capping tax relief for charitable donations have directly cut across
the same government's promotion of philanthropy and the 'big society' -
and there are fears that the same could happen in the USA.
Civil society demands transparency and
consultation on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
In a joint statement, over 100 CSOs and networks across
the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region called for
the release of the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the
initiation of meaningful public consultations on its content. The draft
declaration has been in development for almost a year, but has not been
released to the public, and civil society has been largely excluded
from the drafting process.
Asian Forum for Human
Rights and Development
Make cooperation with civil society a key
pillar of Arab League reform
The development and reform of the Arab League requires
a new vision for its relationship with civil society, in line with the
traditions and experiences established by similar regional groupings
and the UN, 37 CSOs from nine Arab countries have suggested.
The unpredictable future of the Occupy
While the media lens has shifted away, Occupy has
spawned a menagerie of energised movements and ambitious plans. Many
occupations are now blossoming anew with fresh plans, and the movement
retains a formidable power of disruption. Its unpredictability is also
Time to reboot environmentalism?
"If our message is not resonating, the first place to
look is in the mirror," says conservation practitioner Dr Joe
Zammit-Lucia, who argues that environmentalists can re-gain the
initiative by re-inventing themselves into a more effective and more
International Union for
Conservation of Nature
Former UNCTAD staff fear organisation's
Former senior members of UNCTAD staff claim that
developed countries are trying to marginalise UNCTAD because its
analysis of global financial and economic issues has stood out too far
against prevailing orthodoxies and the interests of wealthier countries.
Tax Justice Network
Civil society representatives recommended
for the UN panel on a post-2015 development framework
The Beyond 2015 campaign has recommended five civil
society representatives to serve on a UN High Level Panel on the
post-2015 development framework. The nominations have come from a
collaborative and consultative process involving 48 organisations in
the Beyond 2015 campaign.
Executive Assistant (application deadline 16 April 2012)
CIVICUS is seeking to recruit a Senior Executive
Assistant to provide high-level executive support to the office of the
Secretary General/CEO. The Senior Executive Assistant will report to
the Coordination and Planning Manager and provide support to members of
the senior management team.
Rights Advisor (application deadline 21 April 2012)
The Human Rights Advisor will spearhead the development
and implementation of strategies for research and campaigning
activities to be carried out by Amnesty in Brazil, with particular
emphasis in the areas of the right to the city and forced
Programme Coordinator (application deadline
22 April 2012)
The Sub-Saharan Africa Department of the Transparency
International Secretariat is initiating a new five-year regional
programme to provide support to the work of Transparency
International’s national chapters in Africa. The Programme Coordinator
will coordinate the work flow, financial and administrative management
of the People Engagement Component of the programme in Africa.
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