Webinar- Civil society in crisis: civil society funding and the way forward

A virtual consultation hosted by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Wednesday 23 May, 2012 at 1 pm UTC/GMT

The global economic crisis has been a devastating blow for many civil society organisations. According to data from the CIVICUS Civil Society Index, several CSOs report declining funding, volatility and changing donor priorities, and in response are focusing on diversifying funding sources. The State of Civil Society report published earlier this year reiterated that restrictive funding policies continue to hinder CSOs’ ability to be effective development actors. It is clear that diverse funding strategies and good donor-CSO relations are needed for CSOs to weather these turbulent times.

This webinar will feature presentations on:

  • Civil society funding patterns, trends and survival strategies: Lessons from CIVICUS’ State of Civil society 2011
  • The economic crisis and the impact of funding cuts on civil society in the UK – Oliver Henman, UK and International Campaigns Manager, National Council for Voluntary Organisations

The session is expected to last for 90 minutes. 50 minutes will be dedicated to an open discussion during which you are invited to share your experiences and perspectives.

Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/117739296

This consultation is part of a series of weekly webinars. Find out more.


CIVICUS' Crisis Response Fund supports the Yemen Portal

yemen12“CIVICUS has directly contributed to freedom of expression and citizen participation in Yemen”- Yemen Portal

In January 2011 the Yemeni people rose up and demanded change, calling for an end to Ali Abdullah Saleh’s dictatorship and the establishment of a democratic state. The regime responded by systematically targeting activists, civil society members and journalists.  Media exposure of the events in Yemen was severely curtailed by power cuts, which limited television and internet, and fuel shortages, which limited transportation. Radio emerged as the best medium in which to convey news of the Yemen situation to the community and the outside world- FM waves can be picked up on small handheld phones and radios running on batteries. 

The Crisis Responsyemen22e Fund supported the Yemen Portal in establishing an independent youth radio station at Al-Tagheer (Change) Square in Sana’a, broadcasting programmes to promote democracy, tolerance and human rights and spreading news of the situation in Yemen to both local residents and the international community. The radio succeeded in producing exclusive content and broadcasting regularly during critical times, such as the massacres perpetrated by security forces in Sana’a and Taiz.

Following months of protests Saleh’s reign has ended. The Yemen people now face a difficult transitional period, tasked with building an inclusive and democratic state that guarantees human rights. Yemen Human Rights defenders join activists in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and around the world in fighting to defend citizens’ rights and freedoms.  Protestors in the ongoing Syrian crisis have been subjected to a violent crackdown. The Egyptian transition is walking on to increasingly shaky ground. A recent CIVICUS report indicates that civil society operates in restrictive environments in over 90 countries around the world. 

The Crisis Response Fund needs YOUR help. Threats to Civil Society, like those in Yemen, require urgent response and decisive action.Standing shoulder-to-shoulder we CAN make a difference. Become a human rights defender and make a donation today: support the CIVICUS Crisis Response Fund, support Human Rights, support civil society.

Photos by Imad Mohamed Mar'e and Amran Shahbein.


CIVICUS is committed to accountability and transparency in all the work we do. As founding members of the INGO Accountability Charter, CIVICUS aims to demonstrate the highest standards of professional conduct and accountability. Further information can be found at here.



CIVICUS presentation on Ethiopia to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

CIVICUS has called on the Ethiopian Government to ensure that its land investment policy does not undermine the rights of small-scale agriculturalists to an adequate standard of living including access to adequate food. The Government should institute a land tenure system that strengthens land tenure security, protects small landholders from displacement and provides for adequate compensation and social services in the event of expropriation.

Read more


CIVICUS: Iran must revoke harsh sentences against human rights defenders

24 April 2012, Johannesburg.

Serious violations of the fundamental rights of women human rights defenders are continuing unabated in Iran, says CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

In the latest instance, Mansoureh Behkish was sentenced to four and a half years in jail for her human rights work on 3 April 2012. Mansoureh was sentenced to four years for colluding against the Republic through the Mourning Mothers Group and an additional six months for instigating propaganda against the government.

The Mourning Mothers Group, of which Mansoureh is a member, campaigns against unlawful killings, arrests, torture and enforced disappearances of Iranians. The group is composed of women whose children have been murdered, detained or disappeared in Iran since June 2009, and also includes family members of victims of serious human rights violations perpetuated by the Iranian government.


CIVICUS alliance makes recommendations to UN Human Rights Council on Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia

Members of the CIVICUS alliance have made submissions to the next meeting of UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review process, which reviews countries’ human rights records. The submissions, for Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia, focus on such areas as the rights of freedom of assembly and association, the enabling environment for civil society, the status of journalists and the treatment of minorities.

CIVICUS prepared the submissions in collaboration with the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Pakistan NGO Forum and Zambia Council for Social Development. View them below.


This week in e-CIVICUS

  • Bahrain Grand Prix ignores human rights abuses and heightens tensions
  • 'What is needed is a monitoring and accountability system for governments North and South' - Rio+20 interview with Roberto Bissio, Coordinator, Social Watch (Feature)
  • 'International civil society should spread awareness of the devastating effects of Ethiopian law': interview with Endalkachew Molla, Director, Human Rights Council, Ethiopia (Interview)
  • CIVICUS expresses its condolences at the passing of JCIE President, Tadashi Yamamoto
  • United Nations Voluntary Fund 2013 Call for Applications (Opportunity)
  • Online discussion: tactical dialogue on working with corporations to assess and improve human rights impact (Event)
  • Make your actions count at Rio+20 - VolunteerActionCounts (Take action)
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies: International Advocacy Programme Coordinator (application deadline 5 May 2012)

Read Online now | Subscribe to the e-CIVICUS here


Big questions over the future of sustainable development leadership? Help us answer them

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is working towards Rio+20 on several fronts, including by acting as an organising partner of the NGO Major Group and co-organising critical meetings and workshops around the world. As part of our contribution to the discussion on the future of sustainable development leadership, we are also supporting the Regeneration Project, led by GlobeScan and Sustainability.

Take the survey
As part of this initiative, CIVICUS invites you to participate in the first of two global expert surveys to explore the future of leadership for sustainable development.


Released: Civil Society Bulletin April 2012

In this issue:

  • Time for a new social contract: CIVICUS’ inaugural State of Civil Society Report suggests a generational opportunity for civil society in the face of multiple global crises
  • CIVICUS and the Arab NGO Network for Development highlight Syrian crisis and demand a political solution
  • CIVICUS analysis piece: strengthening civil society voices at the UN Human Rights Council
  • ALGERIA: Continued harassment of activists one year after repeal of emergency
  • BAHRAIN: Demands to release human rights defender on hunger strike increase
  • IRAN: Renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran welcomed

Read this issue online | Subscribe and never miss a future issue


This week in e-CIVICUS

  • Time for a new social contract: CIVICUS report suggests a generational opportunity in the face of multiple crises
  • Turning principles into practice: a successful platform strengthening CSO transparency and accountability practices in Latin America
  • A slippery slope in Southern Africa
  • Bahrain: UNESCO head condemns killing of citizen journalist
  • India: civil society seeks effective use of Right to Information Act
  • Mexico: our future lies in nature
  • CIVICUS interview with Jose Muvango
  • Roundtable discussion between CSOs and members of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All
  • Introducing Bribespot
  • Job: CIVICUS seeks a Senior Executive Assistant (application deadline 16 April 2012)
  • Job: Human Rights Advisor (application deadline 21 April 2012)

Read Online now | Subscribe to the e-CIVICUS here


SAFIS requests reversal of TUCOSWA de-registration

The South Africa Forum for International Solidarity (SAFIS) yesterday issued a letter to the Prime Minister of Swaziland requesting that he reverse the decision to deregister the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).

TUCOWSA has been at the forefront of calls to bring democracy to Swaziland, where everyday life continues to be marked by serious violations of democratic, human and trade union rights, including: extrajudicial killings by security forces; mob killings; the use of excessive force by police and torture against detainees; police impunity; arbitrary arrests and lengthy pre-trial detentions; restrictions on freedom of assembly, association and movement; prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists; discrimination and violence against women; the harassment of labour leaders; and, restrictions on workers' rights.


Turning principles into practice: a successful platform strengthening CSO transparency and accountability practices in Latin America

Since 2004, through its Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability (LTA) programme, CIVICUS has been working to improve public trust and the credibility of civil society organisations (CSOs) and their activities through the enhancement of their accountability systems and structures.

Although much work has been done in recent years in terms of developing principles and toolkits on how to improve CSOs’ transparency and accountability standards, it remains a challenge for CSOs to translate such principles into concrete initiatives and work together towards better sectoral practices. However in Latin America and the Caribbean, the platform Rendir Cuentas (www.rendircuentas.org) has been working successfully for the last three years to bridge, connect and convene CSO practitioners to conceptualise transparency and accountability principles, map best practices and translate principles into concrete and shared initiatives.


Time for a new social contract: CIVICUS report suggests a generational opportunity in the face of multiple crises

State of Civil Society ReportCivil society faces a generational opportunity to prove its value as a source of alternatives at a time of profound global crisis. This is the headline conclusion of the inaugural report on the state of civil society from global civil society network CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

David Bonbright, Chair of CIVICUS, sets out the need for a report from civil society: “We cannot be effective if we don’t know who we are as civil society. We cannot strengthen what we cannot see. For 20 years, CIVICUS has undertaken cutting edge action research on the dimensions and dynamics of civil society. This report continues this central line of our work as a critical champion and friend of civil society.”

The report, the State of Civil Society 2011, available at StateOfCivilSociety.org, concludes that in the face of connected economic, environmental, political and social crises, the institutions of global governance have been revealed as lacking. Meanwhile, state responses to the economic crisis are privileging private capital at the expense of citizens, and accordingly people around the world have risen up to resist poor governance, inequality and corruption, and to demand a change in the circumstances in which they live.


International CSO CIVICUS and University of West Indies to host civil society consultation in Trinidad and Tobago

International civil society alliance CIVICUS and the University of the West Indies are working together to consult on the emerging challenges civil society in Trinidad and Tobago faces, Thursday 5 April.

CIVICUS believes civil society currently faces a generational opportunity to prove its value as a source of alternatives and moral leadership at a time of global economic, political, social and ecological crisis. As the CIVICUS alliance is embarking on a global consultative process to set a new civil society agenda for 2013 to 2017, it is exploring the needs and possibilities for civil society strengthening in the Caribbean.

Ahead of the Trinidad and Tobago consultation, on Tuesday 20 March, CIVICUS co-hosted with the Association of Development Agencies a national consultation in Kingston, Jamaica on the changing global environment and state of civil society.


CIVICUS calls for applications to fill two vacancies on the Board of Directors

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is an international alliance of members and partners dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world, with a secretariat based in Johannesburg, South Africa. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, led by its Board of Directors, is currently renewing the alliance during 2012. Specifically, the Board of Directors are hoping to use rare opportunities of a leadership transition and setting new Strategic Directions for 2013-2017 to mobilise both the alliance and a broader constituency around a new civil society agenda for the next five years.

CIVICUS therefore intends to co-opt two additional Directors to its Board in early-mid 2012, to help drive this mandate of renewing the alliance.

About the CIVICUS Board of Directors

The CIVICUS Board of Directors currently consists of thirteen Directors, elected by the organisation's membership. The CIVICUS bylaws allow for the Board to appoint by co-optation an additional two Directors. In early 2012, the Board has decided to use this option to strengthen the current Board of Directors. The Board is now inviting applications and expressions of interest from suitable candidates.


This week in e-CIVICUS

  • Rio+20: help shape the CIVICUS alliance message
  • Support CIVICUS’s CivNet proposal
  • Jamaica, the Caribbean and global governance
  • CIVICUS to launch first annual State of Civil Society report in April 2012
  • The Value of Community Philanthropy: Results of a Consultation
  • Malaysian civil society's growing importance acknowledged
  • New EU-Kazakhstan agreement offers scope to push for human rights progress
  • Malaysian CSO wins annual UN population prize
  • Job - Legislative Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (open until position filled)

Read Online now | Subscribe to the e-CIVICUS here


Campaigners mark one year of bloodshed in Syria: Russia urged to back UN action

Campaigners around the world will today (Thursday 15th March) mark one year of violence in Syria by calling on Russia to back UN Security Council action to end the crisis.

A coalition of 200 NGOs from 27 countries - including Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, CIVICUS and International Federation of Human Rights - is demanding that the UN Security Council immediately 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.


Angola: Eight years on, human rights defenders in Cabinda continue to struggle to see their right to freedom of association fully respected

March 14th marks the 8th anniversary of the “Proclamation of Mpalabanda”. On 14 March 2004, the establishment of Mpalabanda (Mpalabanda – Associação Cívica de Cabinda) was officially announced during a gathering of its members and partner organisations. Two years later, on 20 July 2006, Mpalabanda was banned by the Provincial Court of Cabinda under the accusation of inciting violence, even though there was no evidence to support that accusation. Six years on, the judicial authorities continue to refuse to hear the organisation's appeal against the ban.

English | Portuguese


Your continued support to CIVICUS is vital - Ingrid Srinath

How does one bid farewell to the job I believe is the best in the world? Regrettably, that is what I must do. As you have probably already heard I will step down from my post as CIVICUS Secretary General at the end of March to attend to some pressing family matters.

There are two main reasons I have described this role as being “the best job in the world”. One is the privilege it has afforded me of meeting some of civil society’s greatest champions, innovators, change-makers and supporters, you not least among those. The other is the unique moment we find ourselves in. The vision that inspired the founding of CIVICUS and that lies at the heart of many, if not most, civil society groups has never been more relevant or achievable


After the Jasmine Revolution: Civil Society Index – Rapid Assessment (CSI-RA) launches in Tunisia

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed an agreement to implement the new Civil Society Index Rapid Assessment (CSI-RA) in Tunisia.

The CSI-RA is a new, entirely flexible version of CIVICUS’ Civil Society Index (CSI) which can be adapted to the specific dynamics of any context. The tool helps civil society make a self-assessment of such facets as the institutional structure and strength of civil society, its perceived impact and the enabling environment for civil society, amongst others.

The project, starting in March 2012, will contribute to larger UNDP programme to support active citizenship, with four main components: (1) a needs assessment of Tunisian civil society; (2) a proposal for a reformed regulatory framework for civil society; (3) a strengthened technical and institutional framework for civil society capacity development; and (4) stronger democracy education for young people.


Greenpeace Calls on World Leaders to End Nuclear Power

Greenpeace today issued an open letter to world leaders calling for an end of the Threat of nuclear power.

Amsterdam, March 7, 2012 - Just days before Japan marks the anniversary of March 11, 2011 tsunami and the nuclear disaster that followed, leaders from more than 50 organisations and prominent individuals from all around the world today released an open letter to world leaders calling for investments in safe, renewable energy in order to end to the threat of nuclear power and put protecting people ahead of protecting the nuclear industry.

The signatories include: Archbishop Dr. Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate; Marina Silva, former Brazilian Environment Minister; Senator Bob Brown, Australian Green Party Leader, Ralph Nader, US environmental activist; John Hall, former US Congressman; Richard Harvey, international Human Rights lawyer; several artists; leaders of human rights, labour, development and environment organisations, such as Action Aid International, Health Care without Harm, Greenpeace International, Friends of the Earth US, CIVICUS, the Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, and many national non-governmental organisations.


e-CIVICUS Special Issue: 2012 World Assembly

WA Special Issue: e-CIVICUS

  • Defining a new social contract - making the future together - CIVICUS board
  • The 11th CIVICUS World Assembly: why participate? -  Malorie Flon
  • 2012 Call for activity proposals - Be part of the programme!
  • 2012 World Assembly programme
  • Register today!
  • Support the CIVICUS World Assembly
  • This year receive a free CIVICUS Citizen Membership

Read online in: English, French and Spanish | Subscribe to the e-CIVICUS here


CIVICUS urges Azerbaijan government to cease rising harassment of civil society

Johannesburg. 28 February 2012. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation condemns bullying tactics by the Azerbaijan government to silence civil society organisations (CSOs).

In recent months, there has been a rise in harassment of CSOs in Azerbaijan. Official intimidation tactics have included the levying of heavy fines on CSOs for petty administrative lapses; the issuing of warning letters to CSOs threatening to cancel their registration; the publication of defamatory articles against civil society members in the press; denial of permission to civil society groups to hold meetings in public spaces; and influencing of the Bar Association to cancel the licenses of human rights lawyers.

It appears that President Ilham Aliyev's regime has become increasingly anxious after street protests, taking inspiration from the Arab Spring, were held in March and April 2011. 16 activists were convicted on the basis of questionable charges and unfair trials for their role in the demonstrations.


‘We need international civil society to stand in solidarity’

Interview with an Azerbaijan civil society activist

Dr Leila Alieva, President of the Center for National and International Studies in Baku, Azerbaijan, speaks to CIVICUS about the deteriorating civil society environment in her country.  She paints a picture of bureaucratic barriers, threats of closure against organisations and denials of opportunities to hold meetings, and the targeting of human rights lawyers, with a government fearful of dissent in the wake of the Arab Spring enabled by other governments’ foreign policy focus on energy and security rather than democratisation. In the face of this, Azerbaijani civil society needs international solidarity and support.

Read the interview here.


"We need international civil society to stand in solidarity"

Dr Leila Alieva, President of the Center for National and International Studies (CNIS) in Baku, Azerbaijan, spoke to CIVICUS recently about the deteriorating civil society environment in her country and what international civil society can do to assist colleagues in Azerbaijan. Dr Alieva has published extensively on issues of security, conflict and politics in Central Asia, and has long years of experience as a civil society activist.

The environment for civil society in Azerbaijan has progressively deteriorated over the past few months. Can you tell us a little about the course of events?

The environment for civil society in Azerbaijan has worsened, particularly after the adoption of the amendment to the Law on NGOs, which requires every NGO to be registered with the Ministry of Justice. At this point, the NGOs that are complying with the new registration requirements have not received confirmation of registration, making them susceptible to threats. The authorities in Azerbaijan are known for delaying NGO registration and also de-registering organisations, particularly those seeking to promote and advance democratic freedoms. The Institute for Peace and Democracy has been waiting for the approval of their NGO registration since 1995, and CNIS received their registration after three years, but only when pressure was imposed by the Council of Europe.

The situation in the autonomous republic of Nakchivan is particularly grave as journalists and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been under constant watch by authorities. Mlahat Nasibova, the head of the Democracy and NGOs Development Resources Center, has received multiple threats from authorities for her objective coverage on the violation of democratic freedoms. Authorities have threatened to shut down organisations and have also contacted donors asking them to cut off financial support.

Currently, CSOs and opposition parties are finding their freedom of expression and assembly to be severely restricted throughout Azerbaijan. In previous years, to run events, NGOs simply had to send a letter to the local executive informing them of their activities, but this year authorities are requiring NGOs to obtain written permission from both local executives and the Presidential administration. In June 2011, local authorities in the city of Shaki prevented CNIS from holding a conference on women’s rights by threatening the organisation that agreed to provide the venue. Restrictions on freedom of assembly were first applied to outdoor gatherings like public meetings and rallies and have since been extended to meetings held indoors at public organisations. Further, authorities have been cutting power supplies at venues where CSOs and opposition parties have planned events.

Human rights defenders and lawyers in Azerbaijan have also been under attack. Recently the Baku City Police Department sent an appeal to the Bar Association requesting they halt the legal activities of Khalid Bagirov, a human rights lawyer who is currently fighting for the release of human rights defender Vidadi Iskandarli. Another human rights lawyer, Elchin Namazov, has been banned from practising law for defending human rights activists, and authorities have appealed for his expulsion from the Bar Association.

Why do you think the government is cracking down on civil society now?

I think the government is cracking down on CSOs and severely restricting activities and democratic freedoms because they feel that independent organisations are a threat to governmental control. The social uprisings and revolutions throughout the Middle East and North Africa have shown the power of civil society and the Azerbaijani authorities want to silence civil society in an effort to maintain control of power.

What do you see as the major impediments or stumbling blocks for an enabling environment for civil society in the country?

I see three major impediments to establishing an enabling environment:

First, there is pervasive absence of political will and democratic values. The government sees CSOs as a threat to sovereignty and are doing whatever they can to restrict the voice of civil society in an effort to maintain absolute power over the people.

Second, there is restricted funding domestically which creates economic uncertainty for CSOs. Until CSOs can operate as independent organisations, free from arbitrary, harsh government regulations, civic activism will not be sustainable.

Third, international relations are politicised and often work at cross purposes. Conflicting government agendas and political alliances have resulted in inconsistent support from Western countries. The international community has been contradictory in promoting democracy in Azerbaijan, and much of this has to do with the energy agenda and security cooperation.

What can international civil society do to support colleagues in Azerbaijan?

We need the international community to bring attention to the restrictions civil society is facing in Azerbaijan. Civil society in this country needs both political and financial support and we need international civil society to pressure their governments to condemn the repressive behaviour of the Azerbaijani authorities. Civil society in Azerbaijan is committed to promoting and protecting democratic freedoms, but with current restrictions and constant repression from the government, we cannot do this alone. We need international civil society to stand in solidarity with CSOs in Azerbaijan and help bring our plight to the international spotlight.

28 February 2012


Leadership transition at CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

27 February 2012

Statement by David Bonbright, Board Chair, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

After four highly successful years as Secretary General of CIVICUS, Ingrid Srinath has, reluctantly, resolved to leave us in order to address pressing family matters at the end of her current contract in March 2012.

In accepting her resignation, the CIVICUS Board recognises that her leadership legacy includes, among other things, an outstanding executive team, a transformed organisational culture and strong support for the CIVICUS mission from our members, funders and civil society promoters generally.

"This is the best job in the world," Ingrid told the board, "because CIVICUS' work and mission have never been more relevant and because of the people I work with day to day who commit themselves to citizen participation for a more just world."

Effective 1 March 2012, Deputy Secretary General, Katsuji Imata, is appointed Acting Secretary General. Katsuji has been with CIVICUS' senior management team since 2007, and was appointed to his current position in 2010. Katsuji has extensive experience in international civil society coordination including the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) and promoting NGO cooperation under the US-Japan Common Agenda.

The end of Ingrid's tenure coincides with the final year of the current CIVICUS strategic directions. The CIVICUS Board is therefore taking the opportunity to combine the global search for the next CIVICUS Secretary General with stakeholder consultations to review and update CIVICUS' strategic directions and provide fresh perspectives on organisational priorities.

To lead this process the Board has appointed a Leadership Transition Steering Committee made up of Board Vice Chair, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a longtime member of CIVICUS, Jay Naidoo, and Acting Secretary General, Katsuji Imata. Nyaradzayi will chair the committee, which will report to me as Board Chair.

Nyaradzayi is the General Secretary of the World YWCA, a global federation in 125 countries, and a human rights lawyer with extensive experience in NGO governance and transition management. Jay is a leading anti-apartheid activist and global civil society leader who served in President Mandela's cabinet and now is Chairman of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

Their work begins immediately with the aim of announcing final results at the CIVICUS World Assembly, held in Montreal, Canada from 3 to 7 September 2012. The committee will use a range of social media to ensure that its work is as transparent and participatory as is possible. Details of how to participate in the CIVICUS Leadership Transition will be available on the CIVICUS website.

For enquiries contact CIVICUS:

Monday 27 February: Andrew Firmin, , +44 7540 892074

From Tuesday 28 February onwards: Mark Nowottny, , + 1 246 2650972



Webinar- Bridging the gaps: an enabling environment and civil society - government relations

Invitation to participate in a webinar
Date and time:  Thursday 1 March 2012, 12:00 -14:00 GMT

Despite the existence of a vast body of national and international law guaranteeing the freedoms of association, assembly and expression, civil society organisations often find themselves impeded from carrying out their mandates.

In response to this, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is organising a webinar on bridging the gaps: an enabling environment and civil society - government relations with the aims of:

•    providing clarity on what an enabling environment entails
•    sharing experiences of different forms of collaboration between civil society and government on policy making
•    identifying the critical elements of an optimal working relationship between government and civil society
•    initiating a process for creating a code of good practice for civil society –government relations.

Resource persons and participants: Representatives from national umbrella associations, CSOs, research institutes, participatory governance practitioners and CIVICUS staff.

If you are interested in participating, register now or contcat


Media Advisory- Ethiopia: Future of last remaining human rights monitoring NGO in Ethiopia in the balance

24 February 2012

The Cassation Bench of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia is expected to hear a petition by the Human Rights Council (HRCO) on 27 February 2012 to admit an appeal against the freezing of its bank accounts. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place on 3 February, but was postponed.

Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and Human Rights Watch reiterate their deep concern at the obstacles and restrictions to which HRCO and other human rights organizations are now subjected, and call upon the Supreme Court to protect the rights of all human rights organisations in Ethiopia to conduct their legitimate and essential work, including through unrestricted access to their funds.


This week in e-CIVICUS

  • Will business as usual trump transformational change at Rio+20?
  • Bringing it together: organising for civil society effectiveness in Cameroon
  • Submit an activity proposal for the 2012 World Assembly
  • CIVICUS plays hosts to young activists for democratic change
  • Etherington fears emergence of 'fourth sector'
  • Belarus dissidents defy KGB and the threat of jail in latest crackdown
  • January 2012 Violations Report
  • Vacancy: Youth Development Officer for Rio+20

Read this issue online | Get all future issues | Explore archive of old issues


CIVICUS Submission on the South African Protection of State Information Bill

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is an international movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening freedom of association and citizen’s participation across the globe. CIVICUS welcomes the invitation by the South African National Council of Provinces to provide inputs on the Protection of State Information Bill 2011 (hereafter the “bill”.)

We recognise that the present version of the bill has been amended to accommodate some public and civil society concerns. Nevertheless, we are of the opinion that the bill falls substantially short of the freedom of expression and information standards contained in the South African Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Read the full submission


CIVICUS calls for release of Burundi anti-corruption activist

CIVICUS has added it is voice to those of Burundi CSOs to urge the president to release arrested anti-corruption activist and CSO leader Faustin Ndikumana, who faces a prison sentence of up to ten years.

Read more


This week in e-CIVICUS

  • 2012: A Civil Society Agenda
  • NGOs around the world condemn persistent crackdowns on Egyptian civil society and reject disabling draft NGO law
  • CIVICUS advocates South Africans’ ‘Right to Know’
  • What does the activism surrounding SOPA reveal about the future of online organising?
  • Democracy does not apply to Aboriginal people
  • Human Rights Officer (application deadline 4 March 2012)

Read this issue online | Get all future issues | Explore archive of old issues


This month in the Civil Society Watch Bulletin

  • Guide on Reporting Violations to UN  special procedures
  • CIVICUS deplores sustained harassment of Belarusian NGO
  • Freedom House: Freedom in the world in 2012?
  • Interview with a civil society activist: Dale McKinley
  • Myanmar: More political prisioners released

Read this issue online | Get all future issuesExplore archive of old issues


Mixed Results out of the Busan 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness


Busan, Republic of Korea. 8 December 2011. The 4th High Level Forum (HLF4) on Aid Effectiveness, held in in Busan from 29 November to 1 December, concluded with a compromise on the direction of international development cooperation and with mixed results in protecting the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in development. With little progress made toward meeting the previous aid effectiveness commitments as well as the regressive global trend in providing and protecting an enabling environment for civil society organisations, CIVICUS highlights that true success will lie in how governments implement these renewed commitments.


This week in e-CIVICUS

  • Responding to Increasing Demands of CSO Accountability: Reflections from Phnom Penh and Manila
  • 2012 CIVICUS World Assembly - Registration Now Open
  • Broadening civic space through voluntary action: Lessons from 2011
  • Governance advisor: Affiliate support (Application Deadline 24 January 2012)
  • Fighting hunger & malnutrition: The HUNGaMA survey reportSystemic peacebuilding, conflict transformation & post-war recovery, and reconciliation (OCTR)

Read this issue onlineGet all future issuesExplore archive of old issues


Ruling on the only surviving independent human rights organisation in Ethiopia

Johannesburg. 18 January 2012. Today CIVICUS, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the UN Special Rapporteur on racism and xenophobia attended the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia to hear a ruling which could define the future of the Human Rights Council (HRCO), formerly known as the Ethiopia Human Rights Council (EHRCO). HRCO has appealed to the Cassation Bench of the Federal Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Federal High Court to uphold the freezing of HRCO’s assets since 2009 by the government regulatory body.

Today the Supreme Court heard the parties and adjourned until 3 February 2012 for a final ruling on the admissibility of the appeal.

CIVICUS and the international community will continue to monitor the situation for civil society organisations in Ethiopia and call for a fair adjudication of the matter in accordance with standards of international human rights.


This week in e-CIVICUS

  • What a year 2011 was!
  • Reporting human rights violations to UN Special Procedures: An Introductory Guide
  • Parents Forum gets Digital Book World Award
  • Rio+20: Making it Happen
  • Human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov goes on termless hunger strike in Kyrgyzstan
  • Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Director General Oxfam Hing Kong (Application deadline 31 January 2012)

Read this issue online | Get all future issues | Explore archive of old issues


CODE-NGO and CIVICUS Workshop Report

CIVICUS and the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), our partner organisation in the Philippines, co-organised a two-day workshop titled, "Strengthening Accountability of the Civil Society Sector on the 14th and 15th of December 2011 in Manila. The workshop also served as a regional event for AGNA (Affinity Group of National Associations) and its LTA working group, of which CODE-NGO is a member.

The workshop had a focus on reviewing various CSO self-regulation initiatives, with the goal of strengthening the credibility and legitimacy of civil society in the Asia region and beyond. You can find a brief workshop report and presentations at the CODE-NGO website.


Looking Back; Moving Forward

INGRID-BUSTSHOTDear friends, partners and supporters,

What a year 2011 was!

Often I found myself quoting Lenin: 'Sometimes decades pass and nothing happens, then weeks pass and decades happen.' Disasters, natural and man-made wrestled for attention with economies on the brink. Young people around the world defied incredibly daunting odds to seize control over their futures. Activism, citizen action and political engagement surged and found new, compelling forms on every continent. Authorities of every stripe were challenged and found lacking in accountability, legitimacy and imagination. Transparency was radically re-defined. Too many friends passed on. Many more were subjected to incarceration, intimidation and worse. But Aung San Suu Kyi walked free, living testament to the power of non-violent resistance. And a new nation was born in Africa. Freedom and control seemed locked in mortal combat like irresistible force and immovable obstacle.


Regional Workshop on Democratising Governance through Citizen Participation

The regional workshop on democratising governance through citizen participation brought together representatives of civil society organisations, international organisations and participatory governance practitioners from Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to share experiences in advancing participatory governance, identify key gaps in participatory governance processes at local, national and continental levels and propose solutions aimed at filling these gaps and making participatory governance effective at all levels.

The first part of the workshop focused on a review of global trends, challenges and good practices in participatory governance. The second part focused on the sharing of experiences on participatory governance by Global Transparency Fund (GTF) Mwananchi Programme partners from six countries in Africa. The third session focused on continental perspectives on participatory governance, looking specifically at the issue of democratic space in an effort to identify key areas where advances can be made to enable more effective participation in governance processes. In the fourth session, participants looked at the dynamics of two key African institutions and ways in which the voices of citizens can influence the decision-making processes of these institutions.
The fifth and sixth sessions focused on global perspectives on participatory governance, the use of new technologies to bridge existing gaps and the way forward.

Download complete report


CIVICUS gearing up for 2nd Intersessional Meeting of the UNCSD

1 November was the official close of the call for submissions to the compilation document for Rio+20. A total of 488 contributions were received from Major Groups. CIVICUS, ANPED, and CI, the three NGO Major Group Operating Partners, did not submit a consensus input so that all NGO issues could be taken into account in a fair and equitable manner. However, in parallel, the NGO Operating Partners have separately submitted their own contributions. CIVICUS' submission consisted of specific civil society recommendations before, during, and after the Summit to ensure effective multi-stakeholder participation.

With the 2nd Intersessional Meeting of the UNCSD fast approaching on 15 December, CIVICUS is currently finalising logistics for a side event which will be co-organised with the Stakeholder Forum, UN-NGLS, Social Watch, Vitae Civilis, and Citizens Network for Sustainable Development, entitled “Civil Society Engagement in Sustainable Development Governance.” In the lead up to the intersessional, CIVICUS is also working jointly with ANPED to create a matrix overview of all NGO inputs submitted on 1 November,  and plans to launch the first edition of a co-signed Rio+20 newsletter that will provide information from NGO Major Group Operating Partners activities and other news relevant to the process. Submissions to the newsletter will be actively sought from NGOs to ensure that voices are appropriately represented.


Standing together we can change the world - CIVICUS' Ingrid Srinath appeals for support of the Crisis Response Fund

Dear Friends and Partners,

From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street protests, 2011 will be remembered as the year we realised the power we hold to change the world.

This year, for Human Rights Day, CIVICUS is asking you to support the Crisis Response Fund (CRF). In 2009-2010 CIVICUS tracked and documented threats to civil society in over 90 countries in every region of the globe. The Crisis Response Fund reacts quickly and decisively when these threats arise, and in 2011 we have achieved some important successes. The campaign by CIVICUS and our partners in the Philippines resulted in the release of the Morong 43, a group of wrongfully imprisoned health workers. We supported the International Observation Station in Minsk in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, and sent lawyer Me Oyane Ondo to the African Commission of Human and People's Rights to advocate for Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa. We have supported initiatives in Egypt, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

And the work of the Crisis Response Fund is not done. With your help we can continue to strengthen, empower and enable civil society around the world.

donate now

Read rest of the letter here


Appel à expression d'intérêt – Le nouveau Indice Rapide de la Société Civile (ISC-RA) de CIVICUS

A propos de l’ISC-Rapide

L’auto-évaluation de la société civile contribue à renforcer les bases factuelles pour le rôle plaidoyer de la société civile, fournissant une plateforme pour la société civile pour identifier les besoins communs, et pour aider à la planification et l'élaboration de stratégies autour des défis et des opportunités communes.

Depuis 1997, CIVICUS: L’Alliance Mondiale pour la Participation Citoyenne, est le pionnier dans le domaine d’auto-évaluation de la société civile avec son Indice de la Société Civile, qui a soutenu des auto-évaluations sur les conditions de la société civile dans 75 pays depuis 2001.

Read more


The Human Rights Situation in the Syria Arab Republic

Human Rights Council 18th SPECIAL SESSION
The Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

2 December 2011
Delivered by Renate Bloem

Thank you, Mme President,

CIVICUS is deeply concerned at the crimes against humanity being committed in Syria as we speak.

CIVICUS commends the timely report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and would like to point out that the report clearly details how Syrian security forces have since the start of the nationwide protests repeatedly and indiscriminately used firearms to kill and maim hundreds of demonstrators for the mere exercise of their right to peaceful protest. The report also details how government snipers with the intention of instilling terror targeted individuals leading the protest marches or speaking from loudspeakers. Use of such like military tactics against civilians is a flagrant violation of international law and principles of the UN Charter.


2011 – The year of voluntary action

by Andrew Firmin, Acting Research Manager, CIVICUS

International Volunteer Day, and the culmination of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, offers an opportunity to emphasise the important role of volunteerism in civic life.

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation believes that voluntary citizen participation is an essential part of civil society, which in turn is a key contributor to sustainable development, human rights, good governance and social justice. Volunteering in civil society organisations is a crucial way in which the effectiveness, capacity and governance of CSOs is enhanced and in which the voice of citizens can be heard in public life. CIVICUS, as part of its mandate to promote and strengthen civil society, undertakes research and analysis into the nature and role of volunteerism, and has a range of resources available to better inform approaches to volunteering, detailed after the break.


Submission on South Africa to the UN UPR 13th Session

This joint submission from Association for Progressive Communictaion (APC), Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), CIVICUS, Gender Links Highway Africa Chair in Media and Information Society,  IDASA, ODAC, Right 2 Know, Southern African NGO Network (SANGONet), Section27 and SERI focuses on: freedom of expression; the right to information; freedom from censorship; freedom of the press; the right to privacy; and the importance of affordable access to the internet.

Read the submission here


Civil society statement to the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

Since the last High Level Forum in Accra, more than 20,000 civil society organisations (CSOs) - including trade unions, women’s groups, youth groups, faith-based organisations and other social movements – in more than 90 countries, have been consulted on the process, agenda and expected outcomes of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) that is meeting here in Busan. We, the 500 participants at the Busan Global Civil Society Forum convened on 26-28 November, represent thousands of civil society actors and speak with one voice.

Read more


CIVICUS Submission on Philippines to the UN UPR 13th Session

CIVICUS outlines urgent concerns related to the environment in which civil society activists and human rights defenders operate in the Philippines. This submission highlights the major breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Read the submission here


CIVICUS submission on Brazil to the UN UPR 13th Session

CIVICUS outlines urgent concerns related to the environment in which civil society activists and human rights defenders operate in Brazil, and about threats faced by them in the exercise of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

Read the submission here


CIVICUS focuses spotlight on enabling environment in Busan

Johannesburg. 25 November 2011. As talks on development effectiveness begin in Busan, South Korea next week, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation warns that shrinking space for civil society and restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly are seriously marring the effectiveness of aid policies.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) play a key role in the representation of a wide range of voices - including of those living on the margins of society - in the development of policies surrounding the disbursement and utilisation of aid. They monitor the effectiveness of aid and contribute to inclusive development, often-times supporting governments in the actual delivery of services.


Call for expressions of interest – the new CIVICUS Civil Society Index Rapid Assessment tool (CSI-RA)

About the CSI-RA

Civil society self-assessment contributes to strengthening the evidence base for civil society advocacy; providing a platform for civil society to identify shared needs; and assisting the planning and strategising of civil society around common challenges and opportunities.

Since 1997 CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, has pioneered the field of civil society self-assessment with its Civil Society Index, which has supported comprehensive self-assessments on the conditions for civil society in 75 countries to date.

Building on the track record of the CSI, CIVICUS now offers an additional and new civil society rapid assessment (CSI-RA) tool, which offers a more flexible and adaptable methodology to help civil society better assess its own strengths, challenges, potentials and needs in a range of different situations and contexts.

Read more




25  Owl Street, 6th Floor
South Africa,
Tel: +27 (0)11 833 5959
Fax: +27 (0)11 833 7997

CIVICUS, c/o We Work
450 Lexington Ave
New York
NY 10017
United States

11 Avenue de la Paix
Tel: +41 (0)22 733 3435