Reclaiming civic space: global challenges, local responses

By Danny Sriskandarajah and Mandeep Tiwana 

From attacks on human rights defenders to limits on civil society’s work, we are facing an emergency on civic space. As evidence from the CIVICUS Monitor suggests, threats to civic freedoms are no longer just happening in fragile states and autocracies, but also in more mature democracies. While there has been growing attention on how to respond to this phenomenon, we believe there needs to be more attention on underlying drivers and on supporting local responses. Civic space can’t be “saved” from the outside.  

Read on: Open Global Rights

 

Why community philanthropy enables people-powered, sustainable development from the ground up

By Clara Bosco

Across the board, civil society groups are finding it increasingly difficult to organize in ways that pursue a radical transformation of the current social and economic structures, while also mobilizing the resources needed to keep on keeping on.

Read on: Global Fund for Community Foundations

 

2018 points to a new wave of citizen activism

By Ines Pousadela

When looking back at 2017, it is hard to lose sight of the fact that restrictions on fundamental freedoms were imposed at an ever-growing pace, even in countries that believed themselves to be immune to authoritarian temptations. However, along with increasing restrictions on civil society rights, we can also see civil society fighting back and continuing to claim rights.

Read on : Equal Times 

 

 

Steady old hand of repression seeks to strangle new media in East Africa

By Teldah Mawarire and Grant Clark 

In African countries where journalists are targeted with killings and beatings while traditional news outlets have been muzzled by governments and other actors unhappy with criticism, bloggers and social media users have become the new independent media by providing much-needed coverage, commentary and analysis. 

Read on: Inter Press Service 

 

Report: The Fight Back Against Rising Repression in On

By Andrew Firmin 

In the face of rising restrictions and brazen attacks on fundamental freedoms, citizens across the globe are responding with resolute resistance, in creative, and powerful ways. This is the main takeaway of CIVICUS’ 2018 State of Civil Society Report. 

Read on: Disrupt and Innovate 

 

As global tensions rise, the UN stands on the sidelines

By  Mandeep Tiwana

It’s tempting to lay the blame for unresolved conflicts at the UN’s door but the reality is that the UN can only deliver when it has the support of member states and the buy-in of citizens.
Read on: Jerusalem Post

 

Human rights at risk for ASEAN citizens

By Ichal Supriadi (Asia Democracy Network) and Josef Benedict (CIVICUS)

As the 10 heads of state from ASEAN gather for the group’s latest summit in Singapore this week to discuss security, trade, and tensions in the South China Sea, the state of human rights and democracy in the region will once again be sidelined. 

Read on: The Jakarta Post 

 

 

Why we need a digital Geneva Convention

By Danny Sriskandarajah

As Western governments look for ways to punish Russia for its brazen attacks abroad, one idea that has been getting a lot of media attention is the possibility of state-sponsored cyberattacks on Russia. Cyber operations may well be one of the most effective tools left in a depleted foreign policy toolbox but we cannot afford for rights and freedoms to become collateral damage in the new cyber arms race. We urgently need new norms and conventions that will protect civilian interests: a Geneva Convention for the digital world.

Read on: Diplomatic Courier 

 

The Commonwealth's 2.4 billion citizens — what are their rights?

By Cathal Gilbert and Trinanjan Radhakrishnan

There has been a lot of talk of shared values ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), due to be held in London from 16th to 20th April. Described as the biggest heads of government meeting the UK has ever hosted, leaders from 53 countries will meet to hold talks aimed at creating a “prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future”, particularly for young people. Expect a lot of pomp and circumstance. But what about substance?

Read on: The Hindu

 

 

Civil Society, Resolute Resistance and Renewed Purpose

By Mandeep Tiwana

Each year, CIVICUS publishes the State of Civil Society Report, which chronicles major global developments and key trends impacting civil society. The report draws from interviews with civil society leaders at the forefront of social change from around the world and CIVICUS’ ongoing research initiatives. This year it reaches an important conclusion: even as fundamental freedoms and democratic values are being encroached upon, peaceful acts of resolute resistance by civil society give us reasons for hope.

Read on:  International Institute for Sustainable Development 

 

International NGOs should ensure women are at the centre of daily operations

By Mouna Ben Garga (CIVICUS) and Ngozi Izuora (Innovation for Change- Hub Afrique)

Many states are known for their strategy to exploit women’s rights for political purposes. But, the international community practices are not that different either–not to the same end for sure. If international NGOs (INGOs) keep using the strategies and approaches they are using now to fight against gender inequality, progress on gender parity will surely grind to a halt and we will need another 200 years to close the gap.

Read on: Disrupt and Innovate 

 

 

The aid sector must enforce standards, rebuild trust to survive abuse scandals

By Anabel Cruz, Chair of the Board of CIVICUS

Critics are using the recent scandals to delegitimise aid and humanitarian efforts. We, in civil society, must all be prepared to have this debate - seriously and honestly.

Read on: Thomson Reuters Foundation News  

 

 

Decisive leadership needed from SADC to address DRC crisis

By David Kode

The announcement of a date for general elections in a country roiled in political conflict and ruled by an unpopular leader should be regarded as a positive move. But not so in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Read on: Pambazuka 

 

 

Russia’s presidential election: a decline in citizen rights

By Natalia Taubina and Bobbie Jo Traut

The re-election of Vladimir Putin has been preceded by a significant crackdown on freedom of assembly and rule of law. The CIVICUS Monitor, which tracks and rates civil society conditions across all UN member states in close to real-time, has found that civic space in Russia has closed dramatically as civil society groups have been publicly vilified and marginalised.

Read on: Open Democracy 

 

 

Citizen rights and the upcoming presidential elections in Africa

By David Kode

It is a big year for democracy on the African continent. Millions will head to the polls in at least eight presidential elections. In many of these countries there are big aspirations for political change, while in others there are concerns about whether the elections will be fair and transparent. 

Read on: East African Standard

 

Why Bahraini rights activists need international support

By Tor Hodenfield

Last month - specifically, 14 February - marked the seventh anniversary of the peaceful protests that swept across Bahrain in 2011, calling for an end to authoritarian rule. Since the popular uprisings, however, intense and sustained state repression has left the Bahraini human rights movement increasingly challenged, amid dwindling international support.

Read on: Middle East Eye

 

Peers and Partners: Empowering Children To Take Civic Action and Engage in Open Government

By Tor Hodenfield, CIVICUS, and Ulrika Cilliers, Save the Children

In 2015, 264 million primary and secondary age children and youth were out of school. In 2016, 5.6 million children died before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes and treatable diseases. In 2015, it was estimated that close to 1,7 billion children had experienced inter-personal violence in a previous year.

Read on: Open Government Partnership

 

Five key battles for re-imagining democracy in a radically changed world

By Danny Sriskandarajah

The challenges facing civil society now aren’t about reviving our weakening democracies—they are about re-imagining democracy for a radically changed world.

Read on: Open Global Rights

 

Global challenges, local responses

By Danny Sriskandarajah and Mandeep Tiwana

We are facing a global emergency of civic space. This is now a universal phenomenon, no longer restricted to autocracies and fragile democracies. While there is growing interest in the nature and impact of these restrictions, there is limited analysis of the deeper drivers of the phenomenon, and even less about how to support local responses.

Read on: International Journal on Human Rights

 

The Press and the New President: A Review of Freedom of Speech in Kyrgyzstan

By Ann-Sofie Nyman and Bobbie Jo Traut

In November, Kyrgyzstan inaugurated its new president Sooronbay Jeenbekov who has promised to continue the previous presidential administration’s policies. This does not bode well for independent journalists and other critical voices who were publicly labeled as national enemies, threatened and taken to court under the previous president’s tenure. 

Read on: Diplomatic Courier 

 

Internet shutdowns: the “new normal” in government repression?

By David Kode

The Ethiopian government is among at least 30 administrations that have disrupted or shut down domestic internet access in the past two years, in order to restrict communications related to dissent, citizen action or politically sensitive events.

Read on: Open Democracy

 

What future for civil society in Zimbabwe?

By Teldah Mawarire and David Kode

During the stand-off between the military and President Mugabe that led to his historic resignation, there was reason for hope. Zimbabwe's civil society must now re-invent itself to ensure this hope lives on.

Read on: Open Democracy

 

You will agree: escalating repression

By Mandeep Tiwana

Mandeep Tiwana sorts through the many cloaks of authoritarianism donned by the political class as repression becomes the rule rather than the exception.

Read on: New Internationalist 

 

Civil Society Meeting Calls for Solidarity, Radical Change to Deal with Global Crises

By Amy Taylor

Our strategies have failed us. We can no longer respond to the crises facing us in the same way. We have to be more radical, more creative — together — to build the future we want. This was one of the resounding messages to emerge from a key global gathering of more than 700 leading thinkers, influencers and doers from more than 100 countries in Suva, Fiji in early December.

Read on: Inter Press Service

 

The struggles of Women Human Rights Defenders in Nepal

By CIVICUS and ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (AHRC) 

Women in Nepal face many challenges due to issues of inequality and injustice in the society. Gender discrimination and gender-based violence are just some of the serious and widespread problems for women. Nepali women are not treated equally, not just in practice, but under law as well. The law regarding nationality, for example, discriminates against women, making some of them “second-class” citizens in society.

Read on: Open Democracy

 

These 6 gender activists are shaking up the world

Space for the feminist movement is shrinking, yet these brave women and non-binary activists continue to fight for equality.

Read on: Open Democracy

 

Climate refugees need global protection – with or without the US

By Danny Sriskandarajah

The United States’ abandonment of global migration and climate change agreements in the same year could be disastrous for climate refugees. When it comes to addressing the growing problem of climate change induced displacement, neither the UN’s Global Compact on Migration nor the Paris Climate Change agreement go far enough. With or without the support of the United States, we need both of these agreements to be more ambitious and implemented faster, to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Read on: Open Democracy 

 

Why SADC must reinvent or remain irrelevant

By Teldah Mawarire 

In times of political crises, as was recently experienced in Zimbabwe, citizens expect the regional body to take a bold stance against leaders who disregard human rights and hinder the advancement of democracy. Zimbabweans were quick to remember the numerous previous failures of the regional community. They roundly rejected SADC’s intervention.

Read on: Pambazuka

 

As NGOs speak out, expect clampdowns to grow

By David Kode

Across the globe, from East Africa to eastern Europe, there is a trend of increasing attacks on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that support reforms governments are opposed to.

Read on: Open Global Rights

 

 

Warm and cuddly global goals? The international community must get real

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Two years into their life, and amid the grim political realities of the last year, the sustainable development goals seem increasingly like warm words with little if any bite. With the clock counting down till 2030, we urgently need to find ways of driving real changes in behaviour, policy and investment if we are to create a more just and sustainable world. We need nothing short of an accountability revolution.

Read on: The Guardian

 

How NGOs and social movements can learn to work together better

By Danny Sriskandarajah

There are no shortages of challenges facing civil society, but one that we don’t talk enough about is the relationship between the formal and informal parts of civil society. If civil society is to have to have any chance of tackling the biggest challenges facing the world, we have to work out to how to work together more effectively.

Read on: Open Democracy

 

Are Rising Attacks On Human Rights Defenders The ‘New Normal’?

By Mandeep Tiwana

At CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance working to strengthen citizen participation, we receive bad news of attacks on compatriots every day. In the past few years, with nauseating regularity, we’ve heard from colleagues who’ve been arbitrarily imprisoned, had their organisations’ starved of resources or have had their life’s work to create just, inclusive and sustainable societies ridiculed by crafty politicians.

Read on: Inter Press Service

 

Danny Sriskandarajah: Is it the beginning of the end for the charity sector?

UK's largest network of civil society leaders, ACEVO, spoke to Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS, as part of its 30th birthday celebrations to get him to expand on his article for Civil Society Futures, where he asks if it is the beginning of the end for the charity sector. 

Read on: 30thingstothinkabout.org

 

Nutrition is political and civil society needs to shape those politics

By Danny Sriskandarajah

The two major nutrition meetings - the Global Nutrition Summit in Milan and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement global gathering in Abidjan – held this month were celebrations of the major progress made in this area in recent years, but also provided a glimpse of the challenges ahead, especially for civil society. Indeed, what is happening in nutrition seems like a microcosm of the broader sustainable development agenda.

Read on: HuffingtonPost 

 

Putting the Pacific on the Map

By Danny Sriskandarajah

This year, CIVICUS International Civil Society Week will take place in Fiji, and will allow civil society delegates from around the world to explore the frontlines in the global fight against climate change. 

Read on: Open Democracy 

 

Can INGOs push back against closing civic space? Only if they change their approach.

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Civil society is facing a sustained, multi-faceted, global onslaught. According to the CIVICUS Monitor, fundamental civic freedoms are being severely restricted in an unprecedented number of countries. The operating environment for civil society organisations is becoming more hostile across the world and many of us in the organised bits of civil society – including in the biggest INGOs – are looking for ways to respond. But, those who want to ‘save’ civic space need to tread carefully.

Read on: From Poverty to Power 

 

Faces of Open Government - An interview with Danny Sriskandarajah

In his interview with Open Government Partnership (OGP), CIVICUS Secretary General, Danny Sriskandarajah shares insights on broad trends affecting civil society globally and how CIVICUS is responding to these. He also highlights the importance of the “openness revolution" and why everyone, including new powerful players in the corporate world, should throw their weight behind it. 

Read on: Open Government Partnership

 

Is it the beginning of the end for the charity sector?

By Danny Sriskandarajah

For people of my generation, working for a charity was a noble and realistic goal. With employment in the voluntary sector rising by a third over the last decade (to nearly 3 per cent of all UK workers), charities have offered a variety of fulfilling – and sometimes well-paid – roles.

Read on: Civil Society Futures 

 

Unlocking the Right Investment in the Social Sector

Alex Sardar and Teresa Crawford 

Chief Innovation Officer at CIVICUS, Alex Sardar and Teresa Crawford from the Social Sector Accelerator explore how using business intelligence tools and technologies to gather and share information on organizations applying for funding can help accelerate the practice of qualifying organizations for funding and in so doing unclogging the qualification bottleneck and increasing the number and diversity of groups who receive funding. 

Read on: Capacity Dividend

 

Could the annulment of Kenya’s election set a precedent for African civil society?

By David Kode

The ruling by Kenya’s Supreme Court strengthens the independence of the judiciary and places this institution as a key player and arbiter in future elections and on issues that affect peace and security in Kenya. Future rulings on elections – either in favour of or against a political party or coalition – can be received as the final outcome and prevent conflict.

Source: Pambazuka

 

Leaders Must Put Migration Back on Global Agenda

By Danny Sriskandarajah

There was much excitement at 2016’s special United Nations summit on migration and refugees. This was the first such summit of world leaders and the declaration at the end of it committed to finding a new and more comprehensive approach to human mobility, to be agreed in the form of a new Global Compact in September 2018.

Read on: Diplomatic Courier 

 

 

 

Rising Attacks on Environmental Defenders Threaten Human Rights Goals Globally

By Inés Pousadela 

“I have been told that my name is on a hit list…but I haven’t been killed yet.” These were the chilling words of Mzama Dlamini, a South African community activist, to a gathering of environmental defenders from all over the world. Many in the audience could personally relate.

Read on: Diplomatic Courier

 

The Participation Revolution

By Danny Sriskandarajah

The falling levels of public trust in public institutions we see all over the world should be a wake-up call for those of us who support open government. But to rebuild trust we need to rebuild governance from the ground up, and put citizens (back) at the heart of institutions.

Read on: Open Government Partnership 

 

Brics: Uma proposta de nova ordem mundial que ignora os direitos básicos dos cidadãos

Escrito por Fabio de Almeida Pinto, Coordenador Executivo do IDS, e Marianna Belalba Barreto, da CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Entre 3 e 5 de setembro, o presidente Michel Temer estará em Xiamen, China, para a 9ª Cúpula dos Brics, onde se reunirá com os líderes de Rússia, Índia, China e África do Sul para discutir e aprofundar a cooperação em comércio internacional, desenvolvimento e segurança.
Leia aqui: Estadão 

 

 

BRICS bloc’s lofty aims lack legitimacy without civil society

By Mandeep Tiwana and Cathal Gilbert

As Xiamen prepares to host 2017 summit, the group's vision of a "just, equitable and democratic multi-polar international order" is not served well by its member states' disregard for citizens' voices.

Read on: Asia Times 

 

 

Hope for citizen voice, despite ‘narrowed’ civic space

By Ine van Severen and Corlett Letlojane

President Jacob Zuma heads to China this week to meet with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China at the the 9th Brics Summit. As far as respect for civic space is concerned, South Africa outshines its counterparts in the Brics bloc, whose members together account for more than 40% of the world’s population. But President Zuma now heads to Xiamen with that record looking worse for wear, in the midst of increasing restrictions on South Africans’ basic rights to organise, speak out and take action.

Read on: Mail and Guardian 

 

Angolan elections: Different name, same game for civil society?

By David Kode

Over the last 38 years, particularly since the end of the civil war in 2002, President Dos Santos has ruled Angola through securitisation of the society, repressing all dissent and restricting freedom of expression, association and assembly. Will space for civil participation open up after one of Africa’s longest serving rulers leaves power following elections this week?

Read on: Pambazuka

 

Squeezing civil society hurts India’s economy and democracy

By Mandeep Tiwana

India played a key moral role in international affairs during the anti-colonial struggles and as a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the cold war. What happened then?

Read on: Open Democracy

 

 

Harmonisation, Participation and Coherence are Key to Realising the 2030 Agenda

By Mandeep Tiwana and Tor Hodenfield 

Two challenges – overlapping reporting requirements and less than universal compliance with human rights obligations – could be addressed by involving civil society more meaningfully in substantive processes. Furthermore, it is essential that positions on human rights matters that are taken at the UN Human Rights Council are followed up at the UN General Assembly and, most importantly, are implemented at the local level.

Read on: International Institute for Sustainable Development

 

From Venezuela to US: People power

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Goldman Sachs’ decision to bailout the Venezuelan government has, unsurprisingly, attracted widespread global condemnation. The transnational firm stands to make a potential windfall profit as Venezuelans continue to face empty shelves and government water cannons daily. Usually it is international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not transnational companies, which occupy the dubious space of government bailouts.

Read on: New Internationalist

 

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