Alert: State of emergency in Venezuela

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS is concerned about the negative impact of Venezuela’s “state of exception and economic emergency” on civil society freedoms. On 13 May 2016 President Nicolás Maduro issued a decree calling for  the state of exception on the basis that “extraordinary circumstances of social, economic, political, natural and ecological nature […] seriously affect the constitutional order, social peace, national security, public institutions and citizens of the Republic.” 


Resilience of Kyrgyzstan CSOs pays off as parliament throws out ‘foreign agents’ Bill

DinaraOshurahunovaDinara Oshurahunova, of the NGO Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, speaks with CIVICUS on recently failed attempts in Kyrgyzstan to pass a foreign agents law and the civil society environment in the country

1. Could you tell us more about the draft Foreign Agents Law that was rejected by Parliament on May 12 in its final reading?

In 2013 the draft Foreign Agents Law was first introduced. The law would mandate NGOs that are funded by foreign resources to register as “foreign agents”. Additionally, the draft law opened the door for the prosecution of NGOs engaged in “political activities”. The notion of "political activities" was vaguely worded in the draft law meaning it was open to different interpretations. Since then the draft law went through changes: the term "foreign agent" was removed, while the provision regarding "political activity" was also eliminated. The recently rejected version of the draft law imposes heavy reporting requirements for NGOs.


Justice for Land Rights Activist, Sikhosiphi Rhadebe: Civil Society writes open letter to South African President Zuma

Nearly two hundred civil society organisations from 74 countries, including South Africa, have written an open letter to South African President Jacob Zuma to mark the second-month anniversary of the brutal assassination of South African community and land rights activist Sikhosiphi Rhadebe. Mr Rhadebe was killed on 22 March 2016 by unknown assailants using firearms.


Still a small window open to reverse China’s new NGO law

In this anonymous interview with CIVICUS, a human rights defender working for a civil society organisation in China details what China’s new NGO Law means and its likely impact on NGOs. Although the law was passed in April and should take effect in January 2017, it can be repealed if the President is convinced not to sign the order to enact it.

Q: Please detail briefly what China’s new NGO law says for local and foreign NGOs

First of all, it has to be clarified that calling the law the “foreign NGOs” as has been peddled in most media is a misleading translation. In its original Chinese language, the law is literally about “extra-territorial” not “foreign” NGOs, meaning that it covers NGOs in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, as China sees it.


Free Emirati human rights defender Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, on trial for online posts in violation of his right to free expression

قراءة بيان باللغة العربية

We, the undersigned NGOs, call on the authorities to immediately release human rights defender and professor of economics Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, who remains in detention in an unknown location in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for his social media posts and human rights activities. He has been denied proper access to his lawyer or family since his arrest in August 2015, and reportedly subject to torture in custody. The continued detention and charges violate his human rights, including his right to free expression.


Swazi monarch a barrier to a vibrant civil society

ThulaniMasekoCIVICUS speaks to Thulani Rudolf Maseko, a human rights defender and founding member of the Lawyers for Human Rights, Swaziland about persistent civic space challenges in the Kingdom of Swaziland and his experiences as a victim of the actions of monarchy. He spoke to us on the sidelines of a side event on Swaziland at the United Nations Human Rights Council

1. What are some of the human rights challenges faced by Swazis?

The main problem for Swaziland is the lack of a democratic space for the people to express themselves. The system of government is one based on the supremacy of the King and royal institutions. It is now generally acknowledged that a system that concentrates power in one center is inconsistent with the ideals of the rule of law and democratic governance. Supremacy anywhere is not in line with the respect, promotion, protection and fulfilment of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It is significant to mention that the problem with Swaziland started on 12 April 1973 when King Sobhuza unlawfully repealed the Constitution, dissolved Parliament and assumed all state and governmental power. His son, King Mswati III who assumed power on April 25, 1986 reaffirmed this position as soon as he had assumed the throne in 1987 when he promulgated Decree No. 1 of 1987. Through this amendment Proclamation, he confirmed that in terms of Swazi law and custom, the King is the supreme power in Swaziland.


Global Day of Citizen Action: thousands gathering in over 35 countries to protect their fundamental freedoms

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.


Battle for natural resources endangers Guatemala’s CSOs

CarmenAidaIbarraCarmen Aída Ibarra (pictured) is the Executive Director of the Pro Justicia Movement Coalition, a grouping of citizen participants that brings together three civil society organisations fighting impunity in Guatemala. She speaks to CIVICUS about the operating environment for civil society in the country. 

Read the interview in English or Spanish


Justice for Sikhosiphi Rhadebe

Sikhosiphi-Rhadebe3As you may be aware, 22 May 2016, will mark the second-month anniversary of South African community and land rights activist Sikhosiphi Rhadebe’s brutal murder in the Eastern Cape province. To mark this sad occasion, we are hoping to get a critical mass of civil society organisations from around the world to express their solidarity through a sign on letter.  

Mr Rhadebe was the chair of the Amadiba Crisis Committee which is engaged in an unequal struggle against titanium mining operations in South Africa’ s pristine Wild Coast region. The local community is concerned that dust generated by open cast mining will cause severe health problems and use up scarce communal water sources. Mining activities could also possibly lead to relocation of the local community and interfere with agricultural activities.


Azerbaijan: Civic space in focus as country is listed as ‘inactive’ by OGP

Publish What You Pay (PWYP), ARTICLE 19 and CIVICUS welcome yesterday’s unprecedented decision by the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to list Azerbaijan as ‘inactive'.  Through this decision, the OGP – a voluntary initiative promoting government transparency and accountability – reaffirms how vital civil society is for an open government and the importance that OGP members attach to the protection of civic space.


Alert: CIVICUS urges respect for civil society freedoms in Mauritania

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS calls on the authorities in Mauritania to release blogger and freelance journalist Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed and overturn a death sentence against him upheld by the Appeals Court in Nouadhibou on 21 April 2016. In upholding the sentence, the Appeals Court referred the case to the Supreme Court, which has the authority to repeal the sentence or reduce it.


Activists honoured for their innovation and impact

Bogotá 28 April 2016; Three activists from India, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone were awarded the coveted Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Award, honoring their ground-breaking work on social issues. The winners were publicly announced at the Awards ceremony held on 28 April as part of International Civil Society Week (ICSW), which was hosted by CIVICUS in collaboration with the Confederación Colombiana de ONG, from 25 to 28 April 2016in Bogotá, Colombia. 


joint letter to King of Bahrain on the arrest of Zainab Al-Khawaja

Dear King Hamad,

We, the undersigned Bahraini and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), would like to unequivocally condemn your government’s arrest of human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja along with her infant son. The implementation of Ms. Al-Khawaja’s prison sentence for merely exercising her right to free expression and assembly amounts to arbitrary detention is wholly unacceptable. While Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa indicated an intention to release her, she has not yet been freed from prison and we are concerned that these arbitrary charges remain against her. We therefore call on the Government of Bahrain to secure her immediate and unconditional release.


Effort of Colombia’s civil society in peace negotiations not acknowledged




CIVICUS speaks to Carlos A Guevara coordinates the information

system for Somos Defensores (We Are Defenders), a non-governmental protection program for human rights defenders in Colombia. He is a journalist, audio-visual producer and social communicator specialising in human rights, armed conflict, public opinion, digital rights, peace building and humanitarian assistance based on the “do no harm” principle. He has extensive experience in supporting, training and consulting with social and human rights organisations in Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico on issues of advocacy, management of public opinion and human rights, communication for protection, risk analysis, self-protection and management of communications in crisis situations.

1. What is the current status of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the guerrillas?

The negotiation process with the world’s oldest guerrilla group, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) began in 2012 and has so far produced many results. Some people remain sceptical but the truth is that agreements have already been reached regarding the most sensitive issues, such as illicit crops, drug trafficking and reparations for victims. The last issues are being addressed including physical safety for those who demobilise. Two days ago another very positive development took place, as the ELN (National Liberation Army), the other guerrilla group that still stands in Colombia, announced the establishment of a second dialogue table that is going to start working on the basis of what has already been negotiated with the FARC. Merging both tables however does not seem feasible because the two guerrilla movements are quite different in both aims and structure: the FARC are much larger and have more territorial power and a vertical structure, while the ELN’s more horizontal structure means that negotiations and decision-making processes are more complicated and take longer.


Weak judicial system makes being a human rights defender in Honduras risky


RolandoBuCIVICUS speaks to Rolando Bú, the director of the Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations for the Development of Honduras (FOPRIDEH), a civil society umbrella organisation that brings together 86 Honduran NGOs. He has over 26 years of experience in civil society and volunteers at environmental and youth support NGOs. He discusses the security situation for Honduran human rights defenders and what can be done to improve the environment NGOs operate in.

1. Several recent assassinations of human rights defenders seem to corroborate the description of Honduras as the most dangerous country in the world for indigenous and environmental activists. What are the obstacles faced by human rights activists in Honduras?

The climate of insecurity in Honduras has multiple causes. One of the biggest problems is the fact that judicial institutions are weak, which makes them very vulnerable to penetration by organised crime ─ which in turn has grown exponentially over the last decade. These infiltrated institutions have not been able to prevent or promptly investigate killings, which has been apparent in the cases of human rights defenders assassinated for their work for land rights and against the exploitation of natural resources. Another, closely related factor is the concession of environmental licences allowing large domestic and foreign companies to make large investments to exploit those natural resources, often to the detriment of the ancestral territories of indigenous people.


Still a long road ahead for Cuban civil society


Armando Chaguaceda Noriega is a Cuban political scientist and historian who specialises in the study of civil society and the political regimes of Cuba and other ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas) countries. He has extensive experience of participating, both in his native country and in other parts of Latin America, in several organisations and activists’ networks built around a progressive, anti-authoritarian perspective. He is a member of Amnesty International and a professor at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico.

1.  After decades of isolation, Cuba returns to the Organization of American States and has received the visits of Pope Francis and President Barack Obama. Do you think this “opening to the world” will have any short- or medium-term effects in respect of democratic reforms or civil society freedoms?


A Human Rights Agenda for the next United Nations Secretary-General

letter to secretary general

The new Secretary-General of the United Nations will inherit a significant array of human rights challenges, and must urgently deal with the capability of United Nations institutions to protect and promote human rights globally. It is vitally important that she or he places human rights at the heart of the United Nations’ agenda.


Media statement on Chad: Release civil society activists ahead of April 10 elections

Ahead of the Chadian presidential elections scheduled for 10 April 2016, global civil society alliance CIVICUS urges the release of five arbitrarily detained civil society activists. The activists have been detained for peacefully opposing the candidature of incumbent President General Idriss Déby Itno, who is also the current rotating chair of the African Union.


CIVICUS ALERT: EU must not overlook rights violations in Turkey

Even as the European Union (EU) finalised its refugee agreement with the Turkish government, freedom of expression and civil society space continue to shrink in the country. CIVICUS urges the EU not to compromise its core values in its cooperation with Turkey. 

Part of the refugee plan includes speeding up Turkey’s accession process to the EU, but such steps are usually conditioned by positive human rights developments. On the contrary, democratic rights violations are currently becoming commonplace in Turkey, with security forces acting with impunity. 

The media is facing an unprecedented crackdown in Turkey. Authorities have severely restricted the operations of newspapers perceived to be supportive of the political opposition by taking over their management, imposing heavy fines, and preventing their distribution. Several TV channels have been forced off the air. 


Joint NGO Statement Urging a Halt of Pre-Election Civil Society Crackdown in Equatorial Guinea

guinea logos2

Downoad: English | Español

The government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea should immediately cease its suppression of independent voices ahead of presidential elections, a group of human rights and democracy organizations said today. The government should also reverse its March 16, 2016 order requiring a leading independent civic group to suspend operations indefinitely, the groups said.


CIVICUS condemns sentencing of 17 Angolan activists, urges their release

The Provincial Court of Luanda sentenced 17 Angolan youth activists to prison sentences ranging from between two to over eight years on Monday for engaging in “preparation of a rebellion and criminal association.” CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, strongly condemns this latest instance of repression by Angola’s totalitarian state apparatus, headed by president José Eduardo dos Santos since 1979.


Media statement: Recent attacks on South African civil society worrying

South Africa may be celebrating human rights month to commemorate the sacrifices made in the struggle for democracy, yet attacks on rights defenders point to a worrying trend for civil society. CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, calls on South Africa’s government to treat two recent incidents with utmost seriousness. 


One year after abduction, calls to “#BringBack” Zimbabwean activist Itai Dzamara yield little


March 2016 marks a year since Zimbabwean activist Itai Dzamara’s enforced disappearance. Itai (pictured) is the founder of Occupy Africa Unity Square movement. His protest style included sitting in the Africa Unity Square in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, with posters calling for President Robert Mugabe’s resignation and respect of human rights. In Harare recently, CIVICUS spoke to Patson Dzamara, who is brother to Itai, on the activism work of his brother and efforts to locate Itai.



1. Tell us about Itai’s background

Itai is a journalist by profession and born in 1979. His journalism journey started when he was still in high school. At some point he led the journalism club at his school, Highfileds High One School. He studied journalism soon after his Advanced-Levels. After completing his studies, he worked for various publications including The Zimbabwean, The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent. Itai also founded his own publication, The News Leader.

Some say his activism started when he founded the Occupy Africa Unity Square movement but I do not think that Itai’s activism started with Occupy Africa Unity Square. He has always been an activist even through his writing. When he started Occupy Africa Unity Square, it was just an escalation of his activism. He chose to grab the bull by its horns.

He is married to Sheffra and they have two children, a seven-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.




Votre organisation œuvre-t-elle à construire un monde plus juste et plus pacifique? Votre travail contribue-t-il à donner plus de pouvoir aux citoyens et les incite-t-il à prendre des mesures sur les questions qui nous concernent tous?

Si oui, vous pouvez vous inscrire au Concours photo des Citoyens actifs de CIVICUS!

Le concours est organisé dans la perspective de la Semaine internationale de la société civile 2016 selon le principe suivant: «Des citoyens actifs, des actions responsables».

Le concours est ouvert à tous les membres votants de l'Alliance mondiale CIVICUS. Tous les membres votants et membres associés (organisations ou membres individuels) sont invités à soumettre des photos relatives aux thèmes de la conférence : «Des citoyens actifs, des actions responsables».

Admissibilité, juges et prix

Chaque membre votant ou associé(organisation ou membre individuel) peut présenter jusqu'à 3 photos maximum.

  1. Paix : créer des moyens positifs d’influer sur le changement social durable et non-violent, et faire respecter les engagements des droits de l'homme universels;
  2. Environnement favorable: protéger le droit de réunion, de prendre des mesures et de prendre la parole, tout en reconnaissant nos responsabilités et en améliorant notre efficacité;
  3. Inclusion: adopter plusieurs voix et faire preuve d'un courage fondé sur des principes pour traiter des questions controversées en vue d'une véritable représentation et d'actions légitimes;
  4. Participation: créer des opportunités pour un engagement de la société civile significatif en matière de gouvernance et de processus de prise de décision, et tenir les personnes au pouvoir pour redevables.

Au total, trois prix en espèces seront à gagner : un premier prix de 500 $ (USD), et deux seconds prix de 250 $ chacun.

Les gagnants seront sélectionnés par un jury composé de membres du personnel de CIVICUS. Les photos gagnantes seront sélectionnées et les candidats informés des décisions du jury d'ici juin 2016.

Remarque: CIVICUS se réserve le droit de ne pas décerner de prix si les juges estiment qu'il n'y a pas de gagnant

Que recherchons-nous?

Nous recherchons les images qui représentent le mieux la société civile en action et les efforts de nos membres pour protéger et promouvoir l'espace civique. Les photos pourront être affichées lors de l'ICSW 2016, et être également publiées sur les médias sociaux, notamment le site Web, les comptes Twitter et Facebook.

Les photos peuvent également être utilisées pour d'autres publications de CIVICUS et/ou lors d'événements CIVICUS à l'avenir. Les photographes et/ou les organisations qui soumettent les photographies conservent la propriété de toutes les photos, et leur utilisation sera accompagnée des mentions pertinentes à leur égard par CIVICUS.

Nous vous demandons de nous envoyer:

  • Des photos de qualité et fortement évocatrices illustrant les efforts efficaces et enthousiasmants accomplis par et pour la société civile.
  • Des images qui illustrent des actions passionnantes sur les thèmes de la conférence : «Des citoyens actifs, des actions responsables»
  • Des photos qui racontent une histoire, capturent un moment, ou illustrent les réussites ou les défis de l'action de la société civile.

Gardez à l'esprit que toutes les photos soumises doivent respecter les règles suivantes :

  • Être des œuvres originales du candidat
  • Ne pas enfreindre les droits d’autrui
  • Être respectueuses des droits, des sensibilités et de la culture des personnes représentées
  • Donner une image exacte de l'objet et de la scène du sujet telle qu'elle est apparue, sans modification (autre que l'optimisation standard, notamment l'enlèvement de la poussière, le recadrage, les ajustements de couleur et de contraste, etc.)

Pour obtenir des conseils sur la prise de belles photos, veuillez consulter les pages suivantes:

Les inscriptions débuteront lundi 21 mars 2016 et se clôtureront vendredi 15 avril 2016 à minuit GMT. Les photos présentées après la date de clôture ne seront pas prises en compte.

Règles de participation

  • La participation est limitée aux photos originales dont le candidat (photographe, organisation soumettant les photographies, ou les deux) détient tous les droits.
  • Chaque candidat est limité à la présentation d'un total de 3 photos, accompagnées de la légende descriptive nécessaire pour chaque photo (les photos valides soumises doivent être soumises avec une description d'une ligne à propos de la photographie, et le nom du photographe si le photographe doit être mentionné).
  • Taille du fichier: jusqu'à 2 Mo par photo
  • Format de fichier : JPEG/300 dpi (les gagnants peuvent être invités à fournir des images en plus haute résolution à des fins de publication ou d'affichage).



Lisez les termes et conditions




¿Trabaja tu organización para construir un mundo de paz y más justo? ¿Colabora tu trabajo con el empoderamiento de ciudadanos y ciudadanas para la acción en temas que nos afectan a todos?

Si es así, ¡considera participar en el Concurso Fotográfico de CIVICUS “Ciudadanía Activa”!

El Concurso se desarrolla en el marco de la Semana Internacional de la Sociedad Civil bajo el lema “Ciudadanía Activa, Acciones Responsables”.

El concurso está abierto para todos los miembros de CIVICUS. Miembros (personas y organizaciones) están invitadas a enviar sus propuestas relacionadas con la tema de la conferencia: “Ciudadanía Activa, Acciones Responsables”

Elegibilidad, Jurado y Premios

Cada miembro puede presentar hasta 3 fotos.

Habrá un total de tres premios en metálico: un primer premio de USD 500 (quinientos dólares americanos), y dos segundos premios de USD 250 cada uno (dos cientos cincuenta dólares).

Los ganadores serán seleccionados por un panel integrado por personal de la Secretaría de CIVICUS. Los trabajos ganadores serán seleccionados y las personas concursantes serán informadas de las decisiones del panel en el mes de junio de 2016.

Nota: CIVICUS se reserva el derecho de declarar desierto el concurso si los miembros del jurado la gente a entender que no hay un claro ganador.

¿Qué es lo que estamos buscando?
Estamos buscando las imágenes que mejor representen a la sociedad civil en acción y los esfuerzos de nuestros socios en la promoción del espacio cívico. Las fotos serán exhibidas durante la Semana ICSW2016 y anunciadas en las redes sociales, como por ejemplo sitio web de CIVICUS, su Twitter y su cuenta de Facebook.
Las fotos también podrán ser usadas en el futuro en otras publicaciones de CIVICUS o en eventos organizados por CIVICUS. La propiedad de las fotografías seguirá siendo de las y los artistas que las tomaron o de la organización que las presentó al concurso, y CIVICUS aclarará el uso correspondiente.
Así que por favor pedimos que nos envíen:

  • Fotos enérgicas, contundentes y de alta calidad, que ilustren los esfuerzos efectivos e inspiradores que desarrolla la sociedad civil.
  • Imágenes que ilustren acciones motivadoras dirigidas a lograr “Ciudadanía Activa, Acciones Responsables”
  • Fotos que nos cuenten una historia, que capturen un momento o representen los éxitos o desafíos de acciones de la sociedad civil.

Recuerden que todos los trabajos deben cumplir con ciertas condiciones, a saber:

  • Ser un trabajo original de quien lo presenta
  • No deben contravenir o transgredir los derechos de otras personas / artistas / organizaciones
  • Respetar los derechos, sensibilidades y la cultura de las personas captadas o plasmadas en las obras
  • Entregar una reflexión certera y fidedigna del tema y escena presentadas, sin alteraciones que no sean con el objeto de optimizaciones estándar, ajustes de color o tamaño, contraste, y similares.

Se pueden leer consejos de cómo tomar fotos muy buenas en los siguientes sitios web:

Período de presentación de los trabajos

El período de presentación de trabajos comienza el lunes 21 de marzo de 2016 y culmina el viernes 15 de abril de 2016 a medianoche horario GMT. Los trabajos que se presenten fuera de plazo no serán considerados para el concurso.

Reglamento de presentación de los trabajos

  • Los trabajos a presentarse pueden ser solamente fotos originales, sobre las cuales quien se presenta al concurso (sea la persona fotógrafa, la organización o ambos) tiene todos los derechos.
  • Cada persona u organización puede presentar un máximo de 3 fotografías.
  • Tamaño del archivo: Máximo 2 MB cada foto
  • Formato del archivo: JPEG/300dpi (se puede solicitar a las personas u organizaciones ganadoras que proporcionen imágenes de más alta resolución para fines de publicación o exhibición).



Lea los términos y condiciones



Photos banner less saturation


In the lead-up to International Civil Society Week 2016, CIVICUS launched the Active Citizens Photography Competition, inviting eligible participants to share images of Alliance members in action. We received close to 100 photographs from around the globe showing CIVICUS Members engaging in the civic space in diverse ways.

As expected, CIVICUS Members made the judges’ task a difficult one! But decisions had to be made, and it is with great pleasure that we announce the top 3 photographs, touching upon women’s struggles for equality in political life, children and youth engaging in peace-building and civic space, and promoting acceptance and inclusion of sexual minorities.

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of the Active Citizens Competition!

The top prize of $500 USD was awarded to Gender Links for this powerful image of women demanding their rightful place in politics.


Caption:Women in Mavula, Swaziland make their voices count during a debate on the equal representation of women in politics.

Photo credit:Thandokuhle Dlamini (for Gender Links)

Rationale:Gender Links (GL) is committed to an inclusive, equal and just society in the public and private space in accordance with the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) Protocol on Gender and Development. This vision is achieved through a people-centred approach guided by the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development that is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, Beijing+20 and Africa Agenda 2063. The organisation’s vision is grounded in the ideal that power and responsibility is much more effective than demagogic rule. Whether in the political arena, in the workplace or in the home, there is ample evidence to show that unbridled power is never a healthy state of affairs. GL firmly believes that democracy in our region can only be real if it starts in the home.


winner photographs with badges3

Caption: In celebration of Europe Day in the city of Vinnitsa, a group of girls held a flash mob for tolerance in support of the LGBT community. The girls attracted the attention of passers-by, when together they lifted up their palms painted in rainbow colours.

Photo credit:Evgen Gomoniuk (for Sustainable Development Club)

Rationale: The Sustainable Development Club has implemented the ESKOM project ("Energy Efficiency: Building coalitions on the earth") with the support of the EU. From July 2015, SDC has worked on the "Union parent community Lymaniskoho rural kindergarten to save it from destruction" project. In the autumn of 2015 SDC led the "Our days in the lens" project for training young photographers. Currently, the organisation is completing the project "To be an eco-journalist", which aims to train young activists in the basics of journalism and media literacy.


CaptionYAD’s Kids for Peace project works with the kids, for the kids, by the kids. The picture captures children celebrating that they are peace activists, promoting peace from the start, from childhood until the end of life. This picture was taken after the children took a peace pledge.  

Photo Credit:Atta ul Haq (for Youth Association for Development)

RationaleYAD’s Kids for Peace Pakistan project has a Mission to cultivate every child’s innate ability to foster peace through cross-cultural experiences and hands-on arts, service and environmental projects. The project’s Vision is a safe and peaceful world where all people respect and care for each other and our planet. Kids for Peace serve as a model and inspiration for creating this reality with children leading the way, not only for today, but for generations to come. Our Motto is Kindness Matters.


It was so difficult for the judges to make the final decisions that the panel chose to award three additional “honourable mentions”. These three contestants will be awarded one year’s free Voting Membership to the CIVICUS Alliance.


runnerup2   runnerup4.300X200 
Caption:Eco-campaigners support zero net carbon emissions by 2050 Caption:Peaceful demonstration against terrorism Caption:Making a camouflage net amidst conflict in Ukraine
Photo credit:CliMates ( Photo creditLAM ECHML ( Photo creditIryna Makarova


Syria: Renewed calls for Bassel Khartabil’s release on 4th anniversary of detention

Syria’s authorities should reveal the whereabouts of Bassel Khartabil, a software developer and free speech activist, and release him immediately, 31 organizations said on the fourth anniversary of his detention.


Freedom of expression in Turkey on a slippery slope

Liana VaronCIVICUS speaks to Liana Varon the Deputy Secretary General of the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV), a network of over 100 foundations and associations in Turkey on the situation concerning freedom of expression and the environment for CSOs.

1. Can you provide details on the case surrounding the arrest of 27 academics early this year?

Academicians for Peace Initiative was established in 2012 to produce and disseminate academic knowledge on ending armed conflicts and peace building processes through analysing different examples from around the world.  On January 11, 2016 the initiative made public the petition entitled “We will not be a party to this crime!” 



Does your organisation work to build a more just and peaceful world? Does your work help empower and engage citizens to take action on issues that affect us all? 


If so, consider entering the CIVICUS “Active Citizens” Photography Competition!


The competition is being held in the run-up to International Civil Society Week 2016 under the banner: “Active Citizens, Accountable Actions”. 


The competition is open to all voting members of the CIVICUS World Alliance. Voting members (organisations or individual members)  are invited to submit entries relating to the conference’s themes: peace, inclusion, enabling environment, and participation.


Eligibility, Judging & Prizes


Each individual voting member or organisation may submit up to 8 photos (max. 2 photos per category: 

  1. peace: creating positive pathways to affect durable and non-violent social change, and upholding universal human rights commitments; 
  2. enabling environment: protecting the right to come together, take action and speak out, while acknowledging our responsibilities and enhancing our effectiveness;
  3. inclusion: embracing multiple voices and exercising principled courage in addressing controversial issues for true representation and legitimate actions;
  4. participation: creating opportunities for meaningful civil society engagement in governance and decision-making processes, and holding power-bearers to account.. 


There will be a total of three cash prizes: A top prize of $500 (USD), and two runner-up prizes of $250 each. 


Prize winners will be selected by a panel of CIVICUS staff. Winning entries will be selected and contestants informed of the panel’s decisions by June 2016.


Note: CIVICUS reserves the right to not award prizes if the judges rule that there is no winner in a specific category.



What We’re Looking for 


We’re looking for images that best represent civil society in action and our members’ efforts to protect and promote civic space. Photos may be displayed during ICSW 2016, as well as featured on social media, including the CIVICUS website and Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels. 


Photos may also be used for other CIVICUS publications and/or at CIVICUS events in the future. Ownership of all photos remains with the photographers and/or the organisations submitting the photographs, and their use will be credited accordingly by CIVICUS. 


So please send us:

  • High quality, powerful photos that illustrate effective and inspiring efforts by and for civil society;
  • Images that illustrate exciting actions towards: i) peace, ii) enabling environment, iii)  inclusion, and iv) participation;
  • Photos that tell a story, capture a moment, or represent the successes or challenges of civil society action.  


Keep in mind that all entries must:

  • Be the original work of the applicant
  • Not infringe on the rights of others
  • Be respectful of the rights, sensitivities, and culture of persons depicted
  • Give an accurate reflection of the subject matter and scene as it appeared, without alteration (other than standard optimization, including removal of dust, cropping, adjustments to colour and contrast, etc.)


You can read tips about what makes a great photo at the following links: 


Entry Period


The entry period starts Wednesday 16 March, 2016 and will close on Friday 8 April 2016 at Midnight GMT. Entries submitted after the closing date will not be considered. 


Submission Rules

  • Entry is limited to original photos to which the applicant (photographer, organisation submitting the photographs, or both) holds all rights.
  • Each applicant is limited to submitting a total of 2 photographs per category (8 in total), with required descriptive caption for every photograph. (Valid entries require a one line description about the photograph, and the photographer’s name, if the photographer is to be credited).
  • File size: Up to 2 MB per photo
  • File format: JPEG/300dpi (Winners may be requested to provide higher resolution images for publication or display purposes.)




Once your application is complete, please upload it here:


Media Statement on Democratic Republic of Congo: CIVICUS urges AU to act on the first anniversary of the imprisonment of youth activists

On the first anniversary of the detention of Congolese youth activists, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, global civil society alliance CIVICUS urges the African Union (AU) to demand their immediate and unconditional release, along with several other imprisoned civil society activists.


Statement on Eritrea at UN Human Rights Council

CIVICUS thanks the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea for her update this morning. We note with extreme concern that the government of Eritrea has effectively closed all spaces for participation of citizens in peaceful assemblies and it continues to restrict the rights of Eritreans to express independent opinions. The government uses sophisticated surveillance systems to monitor communications and activities of Eritreans at home and abroad.


Media Statement: CIVICUS urges justice for murdered Honduran activist Berta Cáceres on International Women’s Day

|Declaración en Español (pdf)

On 7 March, one day before International Women’s Day, mourners gathered to pay their final respects to human rights defender Berta Cáceres, who was violently gunned down at her home in the early morning hours of 3 March. Global civil society alliance CIVICUS joins Honduran civil society and the international community in strongly condemning the assassination of this leading advocate for indigenous land rights, demanding justice for her and her community.


More than 50 Organizations Ask U.S. Treasury, State for Help with Access to Banking Services

On February 25, 2016, 58 nonprofit organizations (NPOs), including umbrella groups with more than 300 member organizations, sent a letter to the U.S. Departments of Treasury and State asking them to convene a multi-stakeholder dialogue as part of a broader effort to ensure that registered, law-abiding NPOs are able to access the global financial system. The signatories to this letter represent more than $8.3 billion annually in humanitarian aid and services to the world’s most needy.


Poland: Government should listen to the people and stop curbing civil liberties

HannaSzulczewskaIn February 2016, CIVICUS interviewed Ms. Hanna Szulczewska, Press Officer for the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD), a citizen movement that emerged on social media in late 2015 as a response to threats facing Poland’s democracy. Here, Ms. Szulczewska discusses how the movement came about, what it aims to achieve and what support KOD is calling for from international actors. 

1. What developments led to the formation of KOD in late 2015 and what does the movement hope to achieve?

Since the parliamentary elections on 25 October 2015, the initiatives of the new Polish government have given serious cause for public concern. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which won a majority in parliament following a populist electoral campaign based on a social policies programme, started to implement a series of changes with disregard for democratic principles and the rule of law. 

Our civic movement emerged spontaneously in reaction to these developments. KOD was actually inspired by an article published on 18 November 2015 on, an independent journalist web portal, by Krzysztof Łoziński, an active member of the anti-communist opposition and a journalist. In his text Łoziński said there was now a need to create a Committee for the Defence of Democracy, in view of “deliberate attempts made by the Law and Justice party to dismantle democracy”. The Committee should follow the tradition and ideals of the Committee for the Defence of Workers founded in communist Poland in 1976.


Civil society calls on Uganda to respect citizens’ rights and media freedom ahead of elections

Civil society groups are urging Ugandan authorities to respect citizen and media freedoms ahead of the 18 February parliamentary and presidential elections.

In the months leading up to election day, Ugandan authorities have restricted the ability of ordinary citizens, civil society activists and journalists to engage in open debates on sensitive issues such as official corruption, high rates of unemployment, rising costs of living, human rights violations and succession in the presidency, say CIVICUS and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).

“It appears that attacks on the media and journalists aim to restrict coverage of events and discussions that appear to challenge the actions and performance of the current government that has been in power for 30 years,” said David Kode, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations. “Worryingly, freedom of assembly of members of the political opposition has also been restricted, while civil society organisations have been intimidated.”

Journalists, particularly those working for independent radio stations outside of the capital Kampala, have been targeted by the authorities and accused of providing biased platforms for members of the political opposition to broadcast messages to their supporters. Several have been prevented from covering political campaigns, while others have been physically assaulted and shot at with live ammunition during demonstrations and campaign rallies organised by opposition parties.

On 20 January 2016, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) suspended the licence of independent radio Endigyito FM and seized the station’s equipment after it broadcast an interview with a leading opposition candidate. Earlier, on 15 October 2015, police shot and injured Radio One correspondent Ivan Vincent as he covered squabbles between supporters of the leading opposition candidate Kizza Besigye and the police.

Police have used excessive force to disperse some opposition rallies and pre-emptive arrests have also been carried out against opposition party members and political figures to prevent them from going to campaign rallies.  Authorities have blamed civil society organisations for inciting violence, demanding apologies and retractions of statements.  In several instances, police have used the Public Order Management Act, which regulates assemblies in Uganda, to crackdown on peaceful rallies and demonstrations by refusing to grant permission for some and providing police with powers to use brute force to disperse peaceful gatherings.

Moreover, the timing of the contentious NGO Bill on 10 November 2015, just a few months before the elections, also raises questions on the way the government views civil society organisations. The bill places undue restrictions on NGOs by establishing a National Bureau for NGOs with extensive powers which include the refusal to register NGOs and revoke their permits. The Bureau has the authority to monitor the activities of NGOs.

CIVICUS and FHRI call on the Ugandan authorities to stop the crackdown on independent voices and journalists and create an enabling environment that allows political participation of all actors, peaceful assemblies, and media freedom to objectively report on issues affecting the people of Uganda.


Call for CIVICUS Board Nominations

Español | Français 


CIVICUS is looking for nominations for election to its Board of Directors. As the term of the current Board draws to a close, we are now searching for suitable civil society leaders to help steer and govern the organisation from the end of 2016 to the end of 2019. 

We are looking for motivated and engaged civil society activists, thought leaders, researchers, volunteers, data specialists, networkers, movers and shakers to help lead the CIVICUS family and play an important role as part of our Board of Directors.

More importantly, you have until 21 February 2016 to nominate yourself or a person in your network who is capable and interested in the position.

Nominations can be submitted in English, French or Spanish. You can also view the Terms and conditions for nominations here.   

You can submit nominations online or by email () or by post to CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, PO Box 933, Southdale, 2135, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Nominations are due by midnight UTC, Sunday 21 February 2016. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email our team at .



More action needed to stop human rights violations in Ethiopia

imgpsh fullsizeCIVICUS spoke to Yared Hailemariam, the director of Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), concerning the recent killing of protesters in the country. AHRE is an NGO initiative of Ethiopian human rights activists that fled the country and is dedicated to the advancement of human rights protection in Ethiopia.

1. Can you detail the main causes of the current protests in Ethiopia?

The current protest in Ethiopia’s Oromia region began in November 2015. The first and main cause of the protests was the controversial government proposal of a Master Plan for the capital, Addis Ababa, which aims to expand the city by taking over several Oromia towns surrounding the capital. Protestors say the implementation of the plan will result in the displacement of thousands of local farmers who settled in the area many years back. The protest was started by students in Oromia region and then farmers and other members of the Oromo ethnic group joined the demonstrations. 


Selection of UN secretary-general must be transparent

NatalieSamarasingheCIVICUS speaks to Natalie Samarasinghe, the executive director of the United Nations Association – UK, where she has worked since 2006. She is the first woman to hold this position. She speaks and writes regularly on UN issues. In 2013, she co-founded 1 for 7 Billion, a global campaign to improve the selection process for the UN Secretary-General.

1.How can the process of appointing the UN secretary-general be made more open, accountable and democratic?

It is crucial that a highly capable secretary-general is appointed this year – someone who can inspire global action, speak truth to power and give voice to the hopes and needs of the world’s seven billion people. Their ability to do so would be enormously strengthened by a selection process that is focused on merit; gives them a broader base of support; and minimises political compromises needed for appointment. 

To date, the process has satisfied any of these conditions, lacking even basic elements of modern recruitment practices and falling short of the UN’s principles of good governance. The Security Council has chosen a candidate behind closed doors and the rest of the UN’s membership has rubberstamped that decision. This opaque and outdated process has damaged the performance and perception of the UN.


COP21 was a historic turning point for climate change

Wael Hmaidan

The Climate Change Conference, COP21, was concluded in December 2015 with various agreements by states. CIVICUS speaks to Wael Hmaidan of the Climate Action Network who unpacks the agreements and what the outcomes of the conference mean. Climate Action Network is an international network of over 950 NGOs that promotes action to limit human-induced climate change

1. What are the major outcomes of the COP21 conference for the future?

As we start to get down to business in 2016, one thing is clear; this year will be different than any of those that came before it because this year, we have a comprehensive, global climate agreement to work with. While the agreement struck in Paris in December 2015 at COP21 will not ─ and was never expected to ─ solve climate change overnight, it is a historic turning point for our movement and indeed the planet. In Paris, leaders sent a signal that the age of fossil fuels is over, and that the renewable energy era will be embraced in its place. 


Jailing protest leaders undermines South Korean democracy

The recent sentencing of two South Korean civil society leaders, indicted for their role in organising and participating in protests demanding an independent investigation into the tragic Sewol Ferry disaster of 2014, is a troubling outcome for the protection of democratic rights in the country. CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, is deeply disturbed by the conviction and sentencing of the two leaders.

“The recent convictions of civil society protest leaders are a regressive step that will ultimately harm South Korean democracy,” said Teldah Mawarire, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS. “In democratic societies the right to express dissent and petition the government should be respected, not squashed.”


Nigeria: Legislators should reject the Social Media Bill

A pending Bill under consideration in Nigeria has civil society concerned for freedom of expression in the country. Global civil society alliance CIVICUS, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) are urging Nigerian lawmakers to reject the ‘Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected Therewith Bill’, also known as the “Social Media Bill”. If passed, the proposed law will severely curtail freedom of speech and the opportunity to engage in critical political commentary online.


Joint Letter to King of Bahrain on Nabeel Rajab's Travel Ban

TO: His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain

CC: His Excellency Lieutenant General Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Minister of Interior, His Excellency Sheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, And Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva

Your Majesty,

We, the undersigned NGOs, call on the Bahraini authorities to lift the arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender Nabeel Rajab in order that he be able to travel abroad with his family for the purpose of securing medical assistance for his wife, Sumaya Rajab.

Nabeel Rajab is President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights and on the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division.


Ethiopia: Civil society groups urge international community to address killing of Oromo protesters

Oromia_in_EthiopiaCIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (Defend Defenders) and Amnesty International urge Ethiopia’s development and international partners to address the killing of at least 140 protesters in the Oromia region since December 2015. 

On 12 November 2015, peaceful protests started in the Oromia Region, southwest of the capital, Addis Ababa, in response to measures taken to transfer the ownership of a community school and portions of a local forest to private investors. The protests have since expanded in scope and size against wider grievances concerning the expansion of Addis Ababa into the Oromia Region under the government’s Integrated Development Master Plan. They have also turned violent, resulting in the killing of protesters, and arrests of protesters and opposition leaders. 

The government announced on 12 January that it was cancelling the Master Plan, but protests continued the next day in parts of Western Hararghe, Ambo and Wellega where the police and the military used live bullets and beat protesters.


China Must Respect Due Process and Uphold the Rule of Law: A call for the Release of 36 Illegally Detained Human Rights Lawyers and Defenders

A Joint Statement by 108 Worldwide Civil Society Organizations regarding the 709 Crackdown

(9th January 2016, Hong Kong) Exactly six months have passed since 9 July 2015 when the Chinese government started detaining human rights lawyers and defenders in large scale. To date, we take note that 14 lawyers and 22 human rights defenders have remained under various forms of confinement, with some in complete disappearance. In addition, another 33 of them are banned from travelling out of the country.



On 16 December 2015, prominent human rights lawyer, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, 46, and his colleague, Ms. Le Thu Ha, 33, were arrested at their home and office in Hanoi, Vietnam, respectively. Both have been charged with “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, a law that has been routinely and arbitrarily invoked by the government to suppress critical voices. 


Joint EHAHRDP, Protection International and CIVICUS Statement on the Special Session of Human Rights Council of Burundi

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), Protection International (PI) and CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation welcome the resolution adopted by consensus at the Human Rights Council during this Special Session, requesting that a mission composed of independent experts be urgently dispatched to investigate human rights violations.


Media Statement: Human rights defenders and civil society organisations face increasing threats

All over the world, human rights defenders and civil society organisations are facing increasing challenges with both state and non-state actors seeking to silence them.


Inequality and exclusion lie at the heart of the South African student protests

MphoNdabaCIVICUS speaks to student activist, Mpho Ndaba who is also an executive member of 350Wits and blogger on recent protests that rocked South African Universities. Students this year marched on Parliament in Cape Town and the seat of government, the Union Buildings in Pretoria making various demands.

1. What are the issues that were behind the recent protests?

The fall of apartheid saw many promises being made to South Africans especially to black people who were most affected by the system of oppression and segregation. Although there was a sense of hope for a new path which would ultimately lead to complete emancipation, nothing appears to have changed.

Access to education has been one of the major challenges the poor have been faced with in the new democratic South Africa, hence 2015 saw the rise of students who are willing to lay their lives down in an attempt to ensure that the system does not put them in a position of disadvantage. Students from various institutions of higher learning embarked in a national protest action. This gave birth to what is today known as ‘Fees Must Fall movement.’


Alert on Burundi: Downward spiral of violence needs urgent attention

Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, warns of serious consequences due to the continued escalation of violence in Burundi. CIVICUS urges African leaders and the international community to strengthen diplomatic efforts to stem the tide of killings and gross human rights violations in Burundi. Individuals and civil society organisations perceived to oppose President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government are under severe attack.


Paris COP21 climate conference a test of commitment to the SDGs

WaelHmaidanWith the Climate Change Conference underway in France, CIVICUS speaks to Wael Hmaidan of the Climate Action Network on what the outcomes of the conference will mean. Climate Action Network is an international network of over 950 NGOs that promotes action to limit human-induced climate change

1. What are the core issues at stake concerning climate change at the COP 21 UN Climate Summit taking place in Paris?

At the UN Climate Summit in Paris, governments have an opportunity to forge a new global agreement that accelerates the transition away from fossil fuels to a safer world powered by 100% renewable energy. The stakes underpinning the transition to 100% renewable energy are huge. The governments know the science, they know that without accelerating this action they could be responsible for hundreds of millions of people falling into poverty, for millions of people losing their homes due to rising seas, and a massive increase in instability in vulnerable regions. On the other hand, the same governments know that by failing to back an orderly transition to a renewable energy future they risk losing out on massive benefits. They could miss out on securing millions of new jobs, improving public health and saving money by ditching out of date and expensive fossil fuels.




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: +41.79.910.34.28