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

 

Trends and Challenges in Global Civil Society

Bernadette Johnson interviews CIVICUS’ Secretary General Danny Sriskandarajah on broad trends affecting civil society spaces globally.

We know it’s a cliché, but the world continues to shrink. Events, trends, and emerging ideas in other countries have the potential to affect us all. This is just as true for charities and nonprofits as it is for other parts of society. Whether it’s proposals to end the restriction on partisan activities by charities in the United States, potential curbs on lobbying by charities in the UK, limits on charities accepting foreign funding in Russia, or the day-to-day challenges organizations face in countries like Turkey or Venezuela, we can learn from – and in some cases be warned by – the happenings outside our own borders.

Raed on: Imagine Canada 

 

To Achieve Ambitious Goals – We Need to Start with our Basic Rights

By Oliver Henman and Andrew Firmin

Recent protests in Ethiopia have seen people demonstrate in their thousands, angry at their authoritarian government, its favouritism towards those close to the ruling elite, and its failure to share the country’s wealth more equally. The response of the state, in a country where dissent is simply not tolerated, has been predictably brutal: at the height of protests last year hundreds of people were killed, and a staggering estimated 24,000 were arrested, many of whom remain in detention today.

Read on: Inter Press Service

 

 

It's time for G20 leaders to embrace civil society

By Cathal Gilbert 

There is a growing list of critical problems in the G20's inbox, namely a faltering global economy, terrorist threats in a majority of G20 member states, and a patched-up climate change agreement. Solving these problems will take more than 20 heads of state and their economic ministers. The role of the private sector is widely acknowledged, but the power of civil society is often dismissed. Addressing these expensive and expansive issues requires the will and contribution of the people.

Read on: Al Jazeera

 

Attacks On Citizen Rights In SA: Five Trends And Countrywide Threats

By Kgalalelo Gaebee 

From the large city centres to the rural townships, South Africans are witnessing a nationwide crackdown on their civic rights. Citizens’ ability to speak out, organise and take action on social issues in South Africa is becoming increasingly restricted. For those critical of business and government elites, there are much higher rates of harassment and detention by security forces. Social activist Kgalalelo Gaebee lists five threats to our basic freedoms that we should be concerned about.

Read on: The Daily Vox

 

CIVICUS Monitor: a new effort to study civic space

After two years of deep thinking and hard work, the global civil society alliance CIVICUS has launched the beta version of the CIVICUS Monitor – the first ever online tool specifically designed to track and rate respect for civic space, in as close to real-time as possible.

 

Big business and activists finally agree. On this one issue

By Danny Sriskandarajah

With some of the world’s biggest economies now companies, not states, the benefits for civil society of working more closely with business are clear. Yet, perhaps less well understood, are the benefits for business of defending civic space – the freedom of citizens to organise, speak up and protest governance failings and corruption. The good news is that in one area at least, businesses and civil society are increasingly seeing eye to eye.

Read on: World Economic Forum

 

We Know We Can’t Do It Alone, But How Can We Work Together?

By Amy Taylor

We’re living through a crisis of democracy where progressive internationalism is under attack. It’s now clearer than ever that civil society organisations cannot realise the more just, inclusive and sustainable world by acting alone. Instead a collective effort is needed – between civil society, philanthropy infrastructure organisations and others – to achieve the kind of transformative change that we seek.

Read on: Philanthropy in Focus

 

 

Promoting prosperity means starting with the basics

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Emerging challenges such as the impending rise of automation calls for new and innovative solutions. Yet sometimes, new problems can also call for old solutions. This is the case with universal basic income, an old idea, which has gained recent renewed interest by experts and policymakers – an idea which could help reduce equality and, by reducing economic insecurity, also promote empowered citizens. Two years into Agenda 2030, the world is changing in ways that would have been hard to predict when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were being agreed. From populist and protectionist politics, to rising inequality and climate change inaction, the changing political and economic landscape calls for bold and brave solutions.

Read on: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

 

Activism and the state: How African civil society responds to repression

By David Kode and Mouna Ben Garga

In most African countries, freedom of expression, assembly and association are stifled by state and non-state actors through the use of restrictive legislation, policies, and judicial persecution as well as physical attacks, threats and detention of activists and journalists. While these restrictions generally occur when civil society groups speak out in direct opposition to public policy, there is strong evidence that restrictions increase during politically sensitive periods, like elections and prior to constitutional changes on term limits of political leaders. African citizens, activists and organisations are finding new and innovative ways to resist, organise and mobilise in the face of mounting restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Read on: Pambazuka 

 

A Free and Diverse Media is Essential to Protecting Democracy in the 21st Century

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Images of protestors flooding the streets – whether in Caracas, Bucharest, Istanbul or Washington DC – send a powerful message to those in power, especially when they are plastered across newspaper front pages. In far too many countries, the response has been to shut down the space for citizens to organise and undermine the ability for dissent to be reported. Even in the most mature of democracies, the ability of citizens to organise and mobilise, and the freedom of journalists to report when they do, are being undermined. In an era of rising populism and spreading curbs on fundamental freedoms, we need to do more to protect civic rights and press freedom.

Read on: Inter Press Service 

 

Togetherness Against the Riptide of Restrictions

By Ellie Stephens and Katie Mattern

We’ve all heard it repeated multiple times in our lives:  we all work better together. The work we do is greater than one individual, and together we can solve the challenges our world and communities face. We’ve also heard this refrain multiple times in our sector, it’s not a revolutionary idea but it’s one that’s seemingly harder and harder to take ownership of in our work.

This adage has never been more important than it is today, as civil society faces an increasing challenge of legitimacy in an evolving world too often dominated by political and financial elites. According to the CIVICUS Monitor, only 3 percent of the world currently lives in countries where fundamental civic rights are respected and enforced, leaving 6 billion people living in countries where freedom of association, assembly, and speech are curtailed.

Read on: Disrupt and Innovate 

 

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