Today, citizens will be gathering in streets and squares around the world to exercise their fundamental rights to speak out, organise and take action on issues affecting their everyday lives. The events are being organised as part of the Global Day of Citizen Action, which is bringing together thousands of citizens in over 35 countries across approximately 80 events to raise awareness about the importance of civic space and the role of citizens in driving change within their communities and governments.
“In over half of the world's countries, freedom of expression, association and assembly are under systematic attack,” said Deborah Walter, Communication Manager at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance which is leading the campaign. “The purpose of Global Day of Citizen Action is to ask people across the world to think about the current state of their civic freedoms and act to protect them", Walter said.
CIVICUS tracked serious human rights violations in 101 countries during 2015, a sharp increase from those recorded in 96 countries the previous year. This growing repressive trend is happening on all continents and in both democratic and authoritarian countries driven by more and more governments passing laws that restrict citizen freedoms and prevent civil society organisations from operating. In some cases state surveillance is on the increase, in others, the arrest, intimidation and murder of activists, journalists and critics as governments crack down on dissent. Civil society also faces threats from non-state actors including powerful corporations, as well as extremist right-wing and fundamentalist groups.
The Global Day of Citizen Action is a campaign that began three years ago in response to these growing threats faced by civil society. The aim is to get people thinking about the status of their rights and to build solidarity against civic space violations.
More information about the day, its importance and what participation actually looks like can be found by watching this video:
If you’re on Twitter, you can join the conversation and search for posts using the hashtag #CivicSpace, and share your views on the state of civic space where you live by taking part in the online poll at www.youcanbethechange.com/gdca.
For details of events please visit: http://www.youcanbethechange.com/gdca/
This event is prepared by CIVICUS through the Civic Space Initiative, implemented in partnership with the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, Article 19, and the World Movement for Democracy.