Looking ahead: Expanding our efforts to protect civic space

SG DECEMBER update 2 1A message from Lysa John, Secretary-General of CIVICUS

Dear CIVICUS members and allies,

We were excited to host the CIVICUS Board and representatives from our key networks – Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) and the Youth Action Team (YAT) – in Johannesburg this November! It is the first time we have met together in South Africa since the start of the pandemic. On 30 November, we hosted our online Annual General Body Meeting (AGM) and launched a series of events to mark our very first ‘Membership Engagement Month’. Our annual report for 2021/22, which is available in three languages, was also adopted in this period and provides an excellent summary of our achievements and challenges in the past year.

We expect 2023 to be an exciting year for the CIVICUS alliance! Our flagship reports – the State of Civil Society and People Power Under Attack – will be published in the first half of the year. Together, these will provide a refreshed range of evidence and resources for activists and networks defending civic space and advocating for civil society.

In keeping with the key shifts outlined in CIVICUS’ Strategic Plan for 2022-27, the Secretariat will make a deliberate effort to ensure that the intersection between civic space restrictions and structural forms of discrimination is the focus of our actions and investments at all levels.  We will continue to invest in strengthening the freedom of peaceful assembly and creating better protection mechanisms for human rights defenders through a combination of advocacy and solidarity efforts, and expect to initiate an exciting range of initiatives program on digital freedoms with a number of global and regional partners.

2023 will also be a moment to mark three decades of our own existence. We will coordinate a series of campaign actions to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. We anticipate working closely with CIVICUS members and allies to amplify issues that need public and political attention in this period, and invite you to discuss opportunities for collaboration with our teams.

Finally, as many of you know, recent events related to an unfortunate accident have caused considerable shock and distress to staff, partners and allies who have been connected to our colleague, Mandeep Tiwana’s work. A number of processes to respond to the event are underway, this includes coordinating with Mandeep and his family to support his recovery and phased return to work. Our Board and staff have been an immense source of wisdom in this period, and we are working closely together to put in place measures for additional capacity. We wish him much strength and thank all of you, our members and allies, for your compassion and support.

CIVICUS offices will close on 21 December and re-open on 3 January. We look forward to connecting and co-creating with you again next year.

In solidarity,

Lysa John



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