In e-CIVICUS this week


  • Unexpected Revolutions? - Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Beirut.
  • Ongoing threats to human rights defenders in Venezuela
  • CIVICUS Civil Society Index for Macedonia: Civic engagement - long road to go (Policy action brief)


  • Kazakhstan: Workers fight massive crackdown
  • Turkey: LGBT rights movement gaining strength
  • Native community defends land against loggers and organised crime

Global Civil Society Adopt International Framework to Protect Civil Society

Two hundred Civil Society Platforms and membership Organizations, representing over 10,000 national,
international and Global CSOs have endorsed an International Framework that includes five Standards to respect, empower and protect Civil Society around against negative government and Donor actions.

Embattled NGO Assistance Fund: Global support for Human Rights

The persecution of civil society activists and organizations, whether they are fighting for justice and law, or clean and open government, or public health, or a safe environment, or honest elections, it's not just an attack against people we admire, it's an attack against our own fundamental beliefs. So when we defend these great people, we are defending an idea that has been and will remain essential to the success of every democracy. So the stakes are high for us, not just them.

-- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speech in Krakow, July 3, 2010

Human rights activists remain under siege in every region of the world. Civil society actors are jailed, harassed, or targeted by local authorities with increasing frequency. According to Freedom House’s annual survey, Freedom in the World, the space for independent political activity, including peaceful protest, has been steadily curtailed in a coordinated effort by authoritarian regimes to stifle and silence advocates of reform.

CIVICUS calls for proposals for implementation of CiviCRM

CIVICUS is seeking proposals from consultants who have demonstrable capacities implementing constituent relationship management (CRM) solutions to implement CIVICUS' CRM strategy.

Following our wide consultations and subsequent decision to adopt the open source tool - CiviCRM (, it became necessary for us to commission a consultant to review our needs (stated in the formal request for proposal document) and propose an implementation plan, complete with timelines, activities and milestones list and detailed cost.

The formal request for proposal is available here.

For enquiries email Oluwakorede Asuni at: or call + 27 (11) 833 5959 (extension 125) on or before 5 July, 2011.

Deadline for submission of proposals is 12 July, 2011.

Ongoing threats to Human Rights Defenders in Venezuela

Dr. Humberto Prado Sifontes, human rights activist and Director of the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory has been falsely accused of instigating violence in prisons following the outbreak of revolts at a local prison. CIVICUS is deeply concerned that the human rights activist may face persecution following comments from the state minister and other media outlets in the country.   “Accusations levelled against Dr. Sifontes are ridiculous and places serious constraints on the lives and activities of human rights defenders in Venezuela,” said Feliciano Reyna, CIVICUS Board Member and head of Sinergia in Venezuela.

More to come.

Call for volunteer translators

CIVICUS is calling for individuals interested in lending their voluntary services for the translation of the new CIVICUS website and other promotional materials.

We are looking to have sections of the website translated into French and Spanish and also have translated versions of some of CIVICUS’ publications and promotional materials such as informational pamphlets, reports and publications.

There will be no remuneration offered for the translation services and work will be made available only as and when translation is needed.

If you are interested in volunteering your services, please send your CV to or , subject line : Volunteer Translators.

In e-CIVICUS this Week


  • A tale of two chiefs - Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General CIVICUS
  • Russia and China Failing UN Security Council Commitment: CIVICUS
  • An Art, Not a Science - Adele Poskitt, Policy Officer, CIVICUS
  • Why South Africa must not enact the Secrecy Bill  - Mandep Tiwana, Policy Manager CIVICUS
  • Voices of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan civil society heard at the UN - Will Lasky, Eurasia Project Coordinator, CIVICUS
  • From conversations lives can be changed -  Rowena McNaughton, Media Officer, CIVICUS

A Tale of Two Chiefs

Two significant global institutions are currently engaged in filling vacancies at the top. In one case, there was active lobbying and public debate on the candidates, the criteria and the principles and process for selection. Despite commitments to a merit based process that would open the role to non-European candidates, power equations and lack of Southern solidarity are making it more than likely that the role will be filled by yet another French national.

At the other institution, the incumbent received the unanimous endorsement of a fraction of the organisation’s membership and this was apparently sufficient to obtain the approval of the wider membership to guarantee him another term in office. Oddly it is the latter institution that makes much of its democratic values, often touting them as giving it superior legitimacy in world affairs.

Why South Africa must not enact the Secrecy Bill

By Mandeep Tiwana, Policy Manager, CIVICUS

South African lawmakers are currently meeting in committee to discuss, clause by clause, various aspects of the Protection of Information Bill being championed by the government. Dubbed the ‘secrecy bill,’ this proposed piece of legislation is making journalists and civil society activists increasingly nervous that their professional quest for the truth will become a highly risky endeavour if the bill is passed into law.

Follow CIVICUS and leading Civil Society groups at the Open Forum Global Assembly

The time has almost come to finalise the consolidation of the findings of the Open Forum process – it is now exactly one week to the second and final Global Assembly 2011 of the Open Forum, 28 to 30 June in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Confirmed attendance has exceeded all expectations. The final count is 245 participants from 79 countries worldwide – a number which reflects the 74 national consultations that Open Forum has facilitated in the past 2 years.

Their outcome as well as that of 9 regional workshops and 8 global thematic consultation processes will feed into the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness.

ACT: Kumi Naidoo arrested in the Arctic - please share!

Dear Friends, Comrades, Brothers and Sisters,

These are the words Kumi frequently uses to communicate with the broad family of influential people he has worked with over the years and I hope you will allow me to address you in this way also. I am Ana Toni, Board Chair of Greenpeace International and my contacting you today on Kumi's behalf since he is currently unable to do so himself.

Letter to our constituents: What are your views on the re-election of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon?

Dear CIVICUS member, partner and friend,

As you may have heard already, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 6 June 2011 his intention to seek a second term of office after his current five-year term expires on 31 December 2011.  Regrettably, once again the discussion on the appointment of this top UN job is marred by a lack of transparency and going ahead without formal debate and discussion amongst member states. His bid has already enjoyed the support of all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States and, given the fact that he remains the only candidate for the job, his appointment already looks like a done deal!

As UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon is at the head of an organisation whose impact on global security and international development is essentially immeasurable. At a time when the world is witnessing a clear gap in strong, ethical and principled political leadership in global governance processes, civil society cannot afford to remain silent and continue without questioning the morality and impact of such political decisions.

Even though we may already be too late in influencing the appointment of the future UN Secretary General, we can indeed question the morality and legality of the process.  Further, CIVICUS strongly believes that this is also a unique opportunity for all of us, as global citizens and civil society, to articulate our expectations of the upcoming Secretary General, and our determination and resolve to hold these leaders accountable.

As a CIVICUS member and a member of civil society – we’d like to hear your views on this critical issue. Specifically, there are three questions we are hoping you can answer:

  1. What is your view on Ban Ki-moon’s decision to run for a second term as the UN Secretary General?
  2. What is your opinion on the process and his likely appointment?
  3. What are your key expectations and demands of the upcoming UN Secretary General?
Send your answers to . Also let us know if you’d be interested in joining a campaign to raise these issues.

In solidarity,

Netsanet Belay
Research and Policy Director, CIVICUS

Civil society speaks but who is listening?

David Kode, Policy Officer for CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation*

I was asked by the Africa Platform for Development Effectiveness to give a presentation on civil society perspectives/updates towards the Busan High Level Forum during the Platform’s Case Studies Peer Review Session which ran from 5-7 June 2011.  The session brought together representatives from the academic world, business foundations, research institutes, civil society and development organisations.   It was not a gathering for civil society but was a forum which brought together development practitioners to review a select set of case studies which can be used studiously as examples showcasing synergies in an African-led development paradigm based on south-south cooperation.

CIVICUS PG Exchange announces: WEBINAR

Theme: “Examining critical success factors for participatory governance”

Date: 23 June 2011 

In order to participate, please register/RSVP to to receive further information and log-in details. 

This week in e-CIVICUS

  • Ireland: Big questions, no easy answers - Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General CIVICUS
  • The role of constituency building in advancing gender equality  - Sifiso Dube, Gender and Diversity Officer, CIVICUS
  • Civil society organisations urge Human Rights Council to condemn crackdown in Bahrain and Yemen
  • Aid policy: Classifications questioned in protracted crises
  • Reimagining food systems in the midst of a hunger crisis
  • 2011 Global Development Awards and Medals Competition
  • Resident Representative (application deadline 21 June 2011)

Read this issue online now. And click here to subscribe and get future issues via email.

Press relase: Civil Society to define its own role in international development

Brussels, 9 June 2011. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from across the globe will consolidate outcomes of a comprehensive two-year consultation process to define principles, guidelines and external conditions for CSO development effectiveness at the second and final Global Assembly of the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness, 28-30 June in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in cooperation with Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC).

Download entire press release

The role of constituency building in advancing gender equality

Sifiso Dube, Gender and Diversity Officer, CIVICUS

Many methods have been crafted as a way of achieving gender equality by civil society, governments and the private sector. Continuous review of these processes always links to the need for constituency building as a means of achieving gender equality. Constituency building should be viewed as a means of influencing public opinion and motivating people to take collective action to achieve a desired social or policy change, which in this case is gender equality. Constituency building is about building a support base for progress towards gender equality. It involves resourcing for social advocacy on gender equality and intensive efforts towards partnerships and alliance building.

Ireland: Big questions, no easy answers

Travelling to Ireland this week I find myself speculating on the likelihood that it could see an outbreak of people power of the scale, intensity and persistence that has been witnessed in the Arab world and, more recently, in Spain.

Caught in a tightening vice of public spending cuts and stalled economic recovery it will, I think, take more than a social call and pleasantries from Barack Obama or Queen Elizabeth II to lift Irish spirits right now.

This week in e-CIVICUS

  • The Coming Global Food Fight - John Cavanagh and Robin Broad
  • G8 declaration won't work without effective development aid
  • Botswana: Mounting tension must end says South African civil society coalition
  • Aid Policy: What the numbers don't tell you
  • Are you part of positive change in the Arab world?
  • The 12th AWID International Forum On Women's Rights And Development: Submission deadline extended
  • Civil Society vacancies and other opportunities

Read this issue free online and subscribe to get future issues by email

Corporate unaccountability continues as civil society sidelined

In the culmination of an intensive six-year process to devise a widely-accepted framework to govern the relationship between businesses and human rights, United Nations Special Representative Professor John Ruggie presented his Final Report on 30 May. While over the course of his two term mandate Ruggie has succeeded in building the requisite level of consensus and momentum, there is much work to be done to move from rhetoric to action.

By Ciana-Marie Pegus, Intern, CIVICUS Organisation Coordination Office

On Monday, there was much excitement at the Palais des Nations in Geneva as a plethora of diplomats, journalists and human rights campaigners gathered to hear and respond to the Final Report on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights authored by UN Special Representative Professor John Ruggie. Developed as part of Ruggie's mandate to identify standards on corporate accountability for human rights abuses, it possesses an unduly heavy focus on and faith in states. The report is shockingly silent on the role of civil society in acting as a watchdog over the antics and activities of rogue corporations. Indeed, it ignores the fact that civil society has always been and will continue to serve as the principal social force advocating for global justice and accountability for transnational corporations. It is the trade unionists, non-profit organisations, charities, community foundations, academics, research institutes, religious bodies, internet activists and social movements that are the vanguard in challenging the established impunity of corporations and the passivity of states.

The Coming Global Food Fight

As food prices force millions more under the threshold of absolute poverty into hunger, with predictable consequences even as aid promises are reneged upon, John Cavanagh and Robin Broad outline a route beyond food security to food sovereignty through rooted communities in this week's guest editorial. The commentary comes as Oxfam launched its global GROW campaign which I'd also suggest you look at: .

Inaction at Least Developed Countries summit hurting global development

It's time for a new international development paradigm for Least Developed Countries, writes David Kode, Policy Officer at CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

World Leaders and policy makers have a remarkable capacity to emulate progress without actually achieving anything. Earlier this month leaders of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), parliamentarians, UN officials and representatives of civil society descended on Istanbul for the high level LDC IV Summit, the agenda being to evaluate progress on the Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA) – a programme adopted a decade ago that explicitly outlined commitments made by the international community to help countries graduate from the LDC bracket. Now, although the determination to make progress towards the goals of poverty eradication, peace and development is on paper, the stark reality is that the challenges and constraints that instigated BPoA remain ten years on. So where are we at?

No Silver Lining to the IMF Cloud

Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General CIVICUS

European powers appear set on perpetuating their arbitrary "entitlement" to the position of Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in the wake of the controversy that precipitated the resignation earlier this month of Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Despite claims from the IMF that the selection this time around would "take place in an open, merit-based, and transparent manner" as well as a longstanding commitment to open the position to nationals of all member states, most developed country representatives had expressed clear preferences for European candidates even before nominations opened on 23 May.

Their stances will do nothing to allay fears among developing countries and civil society that pledges to address unrepresentative governance at the Bretton Woods institutions are mere window dressing. They are in direct contravention of the explicit recommendation that resulted from extensive civil society consultations last year that the election should be conducted "without pre-selection by any sub-group of powerful countries". Particularly since the arguments being proffered in favour of European candidates fly in the face of reason and logic. In an act of collective amnesia, some Europeans have argued that their current economic woes demand a European at the helm of the Fund, having asserted that objectivity was necessary in the IMF's approach following the Asian economic crisis of the late '90s. This repeats the U-turn in logic that accompanied their shift to becoming net contributors from net recipients when these institutions were founded following World War II. It is somewhat ironic that the current front runner for the Managing Director's position is French, since France was the first recipient of an IMF loan.

Zimbabwe March 2011: Silent Fear

Adele Poskitt

This week I tasted the bitter-sweet fear that is keeping Zimbabwe on its knees. Narrowly avoiding detention in a notorious Harare prison, fleeing the country in hiding, and escaping persecution due to a case of mistaken identity, are all in a day of the life of a civil society activist in Southern Africa's failing state.

My first visit to Zimbabwe was defined by fear and shaped by the all-powerful authoritative regime that most of us only read about. I arrived in Harare after the short journey from my new home in Johannesburg into a seemingly calm and attractive city. Yet the tree-lined, tranquil streets hide one of the world's most prevailing disasters.

The tragic story of Robert Mugabe's destruction of Africa's bread basket is well-known, but what happens to those who struggle for the education, health and equality for the country's population is what we should be talking about. I spent just two days listening to the people who work for non-governmental organisations that seek to improve the quality of education for women, run peace-building projects with church youth groups and ensure access to essential ARVs for people living with HIV, before I had to flee the country. Speaking out on behalf of the people the state fails to provide for is a dangerous feat in Zimbabwe and civil society activists frequently put their lives at risk.

Spotlight on the Civil Society Index - 24 Country Reports complete

Civil society has been defined as the space between state, private sector and family or community. Today, we are witnessing what we could call a phase transition in the make-up of civil society space worldwide. Traditional boundaries between the state and the private sector have been blurred.

CIVICUS released over 15 Civil Society Index country reports this week, bringing the total number of country reports now available to 24. The reports from countries from around the world, including Chile, Russia, Zambia and Japan, are available on the CIVICUS website, with summaries of the highlights on the CSI blog.

Also marking this occasion, Netsanet Demissie Belay, Director, Policy and Research for CIVICUS will be a guest speaker at a seminar and workshop entitled "Concept, Relevance and Use of the Civil Society Index" coming up on April 7 in Madurodam, The Hague. Learn more about the event.

Syria: CIVICUS calls for immediate release of journalist Fayez Sara

"Arbitrary arrests, detentions and intimidation of activists, journalists and political opponents in Syria by security forces and members of the intelligence unit is no way to respond to legitimate calls for reforms by citizens in Syria," said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director for CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. "We call on the Syrian authorities to immediately release Mr. Fayez Sara and the many activists and journalists arrested, to stop using live ammunition on protesters and allow the wounded unfettered access to medical care."

CIVICUS Announces the Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Award Winners

CIVICUS is pleased to announce the winners of its latest round of Innovation Awards. These awards are in the form of seed funding of US$5,000 granted to outstanding for initiatives born out of the CIVICUS World Assembly. Last year's Assembly was held in Montreal, Canada, and organisations who attended were invited to submit proposals.

CIVICUS calls on Iran government to stop its Establishment and Supervision of NGOs Bill. If passed bill would “pose major threat” to independent civil society in Iran

Civil society enabling environment now on global agenda - preparing for Busan

Civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world are mobilising resources, actions and advocacy to influence key global processes this year. One key event slated for the latter part of 2011, where major issues including Development Effectiveness and the role of and operational environment for civil society need to be taken up in earnest, is the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea (HLF-4), from 26 November-1 December. After 18 months of engagement and advocacy by civil society, including CIVICUS, the Task Team has finally agreed on collective key messages for consideration by all participating stakeholders in HLF-4.

CIVICUS: IFC Review Process must align with the UN Framework on Business and Human Right

CIVICUS has had the opportunity to study the draft sustainability framework and in particular the draft Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability put together by the IFC. Although there are some improvements in the current draft over the existing 2006 policy, we are deeply concerned that the draft falls far short of the standards recommended by Professor John Ruggie, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on the issue of human rights and transnational and other business enterprises (UN Framework on Business and Human Rights)

Download (PDF)

CIVICUS condemns the arrest of Andrey Yurov in Belarus

CIVICUS condemns the arrest and detainment of Andrey Yurov, Head of the International Observation Mission of the Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus. Currently, he is in the process of being deported from the country. CIVICUS laments the ongoing crackdown on civil society in Belarus and calls the international community to find effective means ensuring that legitimate civil society has a place in Belarus. Human rights defenders such as Andrey Yurov should not be menaced with constant surveillance and groundless deportation.

Learn more

Latest in e-CIVICUS

  • A CIVICUS inventor passes away – remembering a great civil society leader -  Ingrid Srinath
  • Defrosting the Chilling Effect -  Adele Poskit, Policy officer, CIVICUS
  • NANGO Calls for end to Harassment of Civil Society Activists by Zimbabwe Republic Police
  • Internal displacement on the rise in Libya
  • Changing political spaces of Civil Society Organisations: Report
  • New Zealand Aid Development Scholarships
  • Jobs and internships and;
  • Loads of civil society related news
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Voices from the field: Change has started and it will never go back

Rowena McNaughton interviews human rights activist and director of Arab NGO Network for Development, Ziad Abdel Samad.
As citizens of Tunisia and Egypt successfully demand an end to totalitarian leadership, veteran human rights activist in the Arab region, Ziad Abdel Samad, says the events have already been a catalyst for widespread democratic change in the Arab region and there is no going back.

Q1. What broader implications does the stepping down of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt have for the Middle Eastern region?

It’s very important to note that something very important is happening in the region. Changes in Tunisia have had an impact, but it’s the changes in Egypt which have had a greater influence, simply because Egypt carries a lot of weight in terms of regional geo-politics.
Also, now civil society is more confident of its power and, of course, its capacity to enforce change. This will also affect the vision and role of Arab civil society in general. In the last decade there has been a lot of oppression on CS in general but now we see CS has the power and can mobilise and society can feel this power - they can take control.  More power will affect the vision of CS in other countries.

From my perspective, a lot has already changed in the region. But we have to bear in mind we are in a very challenging situation and the process has not ended yet. We have to remember the process is ongoing. For democratic change, an important step has been achieved by imposing the resignation of the president, but we now have to keep on going and we must keep up the pressure and ensure sustainability of the changes and that the right changes are made to the constitution, electoral law,….there needs to be a lot of effort and time and we can not let the process slow down.
I believe the changes in Egypt will lead to change in other countries in the (Arab) region even if it does not change the people in power. Regional and foreign policies will be revised as well. Even if the main objective of the revolution has been focusing on social and economic justice and political freedom and liberties, there are going to have to be changes in long-held global affiliations.
Now all leaders (in the region) will have to reconsider their policies as they are aware and feel the threats. They will have to start improving policies - particularly social and economic, and will have to open space for political participation, including for civil society.

Q2. Are you seeing any changes happen?

A. Yes. In many countries measures are taken to slow down the popular anger from the social and economic conditions and from the lack of political liberties and freedom as well. Like in Syria just two days ago, Facebook was allowed for the first time in three years. In Kuwait and in Bahrain, the government has started distributing money and food aid for each family. In Jordan the king changed the government and issued a decree to subsidise gasoline during the cold season. Even in Yemen, the president has released many statements and declared that he would not run for the presidency in the next election and will not allow  transition of power to his son .. However all these are changes that came before the beginning of the protest.
In Bahrain, although the situation is tense, protests started last week. In Yemen they started protesting as well. Under the pressure of popular movement the process will now go faster and further.

However the situation in many Arab countries is not the same as in Egypt. In Egypt the political situation and the society is more coherent, Divides are more social based not religious and tribal which are harder to move. In countries like Yemen the tribal system can be used to protect power since they can always use tribal divides to weaken popular pressure. The same in Bahrain, the confessional divide can be used to protect the king.

Press release CIVICUS urges the International Community to unequivocally pressure Egypt's President Mubarak to step down

Johannesburg. 1 February 2011. President Hosni Mubarak is still clinging onto power despite continuing unprecedented protests caused by widespread dissatisfaction in Egypt against his 30 years of authoritarian rule. 

Civil society: the OSCE Moscow Mechanism - a way out of the "Belarusian deadlock"

Olga Zakharova, Eurasia Idea Network Correspondent

Civil Society representatives from 27 OSCE member countries sent an appeal for urgent action in response to the human rights crisis in Belarus to the embassies of OSCE member countries. The appeal includes a petition to initiate the Moscow Mechanism for independent monitoring. More than 100 organisations have already signed the petition.

Ingrid Srinath at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland

Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General, CIVICUS Speaking during the session 'Insights on India' Ingrid shared her concerns about the government's inability to keep its promises. "Despite the government's pledges to the contrary, growth in India had not been inclusive.



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