Resources for civil society in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic

Defending civil society, democratic rights, and our fundamental freedoms can be challenging, let alone having to do it while under “lockdown” practicing social distancing in the midst of a global health crisis spreading rapidly across the world. In times like these, solidarity and social compassion play the most important role. To help connect and inform the alliance and civil society during this time, we will be collecting information, resources, and support to share. 

We will be updating this page as this crisis unfolds and as new information is shared. You can also contribute with useful information by contacting us at:

First, some basic prevention information from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations

CIVICUS RESPONSE

  • The CIVICUS Secretariat is responding to the fast moving emergency and arising needs across various locations. This includes supporting our staff as they deal with personal and professional challenges that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key institutional measures that are in effect so far include a moratorium on staff travel, suspension of convenings for the next few months and systems to enable colleagues to work from home and balance responsibilities to their families and communities. An internal COVID-19 response team is in place to ensure that our operational and people processes are responding to changing realities and supporting staff and partner needs in accordance with WHO guidelines for prevention and protection. 

  • In the interest of the CIVICUS alliance and the support needed by small and medium sized organisations in particular, we are calling on donors and intermediaries to exercise flexibility and understanding as the COVID-19 outbreak will necessitate reprioritisation and adjustments in programming and outreach activities by civil society organisations around the world. At this moment, we need funders and supporters to work together to ensure that civil society stays strong and resilient as we deal with current and future crises and uncertainties, including in the social, political and economic sphere. 

  • While doing this, we are also mindful of the need to support each other with messages of hope, resilience and solidarity in dealing with the potential negative outcomes for social cohesion, trust and civic struggles. Now more than ever we need to put in place measures that reduce the impact of the pandemic on groups rendered especially vulnerable by inequality, discrimination, disability and the absence of social security measures.
  • Finally, as many in our networks are actively engaged in speaking truth to power and challenging power inequities, we are concerned about how emergency measures may be repurposed in some context to further close space for civil society. We understand that the exercise of civic freedoms, especially public mobilisations, will need to move online temporarily. This requires additional efforts to call out and control enhanced illicit surveillance. Attacks on civil society actors could also be ramped up as the attention of the world is diverted elsewhere. Political prisoners, arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, journalists, and prisoners of conscience are extremely vulnerable in this context and we join calls to immediately and unconditionally release these actors, dropping all charges against them in the face of overcrowding and limited access to healthcare already existing in prison systems. 

  • It is imperative that we remain vigilant and act together, drawing effectively on our reserves of innovation and resilience.

DISINFORMATION

In the midst of this pandemic, it is very easy to find ourselves face to 'fake news' and disinformation about the virus. Open Democracy has shared this quiz that will help you spot common Coronavirus disinformation circulating on the internet.

CIVIL SOCIETY RESPONSES

Civil society and human rights analyses:

With COVID-19 sweeping the entire world, different national systems are having different responses to this crisis. and the state of civil society is therefore impacted by governments reaction or lack of. Read the different cases reported from different countries: 

Donor messages:

Civil Society statements and messages

RESOURCES 

Now that we all have to be physically distant and isolated from each other, our daily routine will have to change. These resources offer tips and guidance on dealing with isolation, working from home and carrying on our fight for civil society while practicing social distancing. 

Being confined to home, a good way to learn about human rights and civic space is through podcasts and online courses. See below a list of resources exploring and uncovering facts and realities around human rights stories, driving change and much more.

Free courses: