Norway must stand firm on its commitment to sustainable development

Prime Minister Solberg is becoming an international development superstar. Two weeks ago, at the United Nations in New York, I saw her on countless stages championing progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals — with much acclaim from gathered diplomats, activists and businesspeople. Happily, the draft budget tabled by Solberg’s government this week proves that she’s prepared to make good on her promises. At a time when foreign aid budgets are coming under increasing pressure in the majority of donor countries, Norway’s retaining official development assistance at 1 percent of GNI is welcome.

Read on: Devex 


Cherish Not Vilify Indian Civil Society

Civil society has been described as the oxygen of democracy by no less than UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. As the world’s largest democracy, India has a proud history of inspiring people’s movements and non-profit organisations looked up to by social change advocates across the globe.

Written by: Danny Sriskandarajah and Mandeep Tiwana

Read on: Inter Press Service 


Australia must forge a new path through a rapidly shifting international development landscape

For the last three years, Australia’s foreign aid budget has been in free-fall. As a proportion of Gross National Income, it has now sunk to its lowest level in decades. Indeed, on every measure of aid generosity that there is, Australia is tumbling down the international rankings. And, if the first budget of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government is anything to go by, this downward trajectory won’t be reversed. A further $224 million has been cut from the aid budget, leaving aid at just 0.22% of GNI in 2017-18, with no projected increase over the forward estimates.

Read on: Australian Council for International Development


Global migration summits are high-stakes and high-risk

Last year, it was estimated that there were 20 million refugees and 244 million migrants around the world. But beyond the numbers lies a more fundamental challenge. Political instability, economic inequality, uneven demography and globalisation are driving ever-greater human mobility. Yet, despite freeing up trade and capital flows, most countries of the world are seeking to restrict migration and struggling to deal with its consequences. 

Read on: Open Democracy | Português | Español


Protecting and expanding civil society space nationally and internationally

In many ways 2015 marked a watershed for civil society. Two major global compacts affecting the lives and livelihoods of billions of people were reached: the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Both these agreements are more ambitious, inclusive and grounded in human rights discourse than previous commitments. That they are is a consequence of civil society advocacy, and a testament to civil society’s participation and influence in global governance. These new commitments demonstrate that civil society can play a significant role in global governance, and almost all intergovernmental bodies express some kind of commitment to work with civil society. However, positive achievements contrast with the reality that civil society is being squeezed: one or more of the core civil society freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly were seriously restricted in 109 countries around the world in 2015. 

Written by: Mandeep Tiwana and Andrew Firmin 

Read on: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung 


The protection of refugees needs a strong civil society

In 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), counted 65 million people around the world forced to leave their homes. Of these 65 million, 21 million are refugees according to the 1951 Refugee Convention. This is the highest number of women, men and children on the move since the Second World War. About 94 per cent of these global refugees left their country seeking protection with neighbouring nations, mostly in the global south. Europe, on the other hand, accounts for the protection of around 6 per cent of the world’s refugees.

Written by: Julia Duchrow

Read on: New Internationalist Blog 


People should have a say in electing the new UN head

We are about to elect a new secretary-general for the United Nations. But, "we the people", despite our prominence at the opening of the UN Charter, have almost nothing to do with filling one of the most important public posts in the world; nor, indeed, will the successful candidate be compelled to look after the interests of the world's seven billion people.

Read on: Al Jazeera


Humanitarian Future

The first World Humanitarian Summit has come and gone. Apparently, more than 1,500 commitments emerged from the two-day meeting which saw some 8,000 people, from 173 countries, discuss the future of the global humanitarian system at over 200 separate events. It was an intense two days; here is an attempt to synthesise my thoughts on the summit’s outcomes and what it might all mean for the work of the humanitarian community in the coming years.

Read on: Pan European Networks


Southern philanthropy to the rescue?

Human rights and social justice focused organisations in the global south are facing double trouble. On the one hand, traditional sources of funding for their work from western democracies are becoming scarce. On the other hand, governments in the global south are increasingly using divisive rhetoric against civil society organisations (CSOs) uncovering corruption and serious rights violations by accusing them of being driven by foreign agendas. As regulations to limit international funding for civil society proliferate, there’s an urgent need for southern philanthropic institutions to step up to the plate to support the human rights and social justice agenda of civil societies at home.

Read on: Alliance Magazine


Human rights activists are being portrayed as terrorists and foreign puppets

After being detained for 50 days, World Vision’s operations manager in the Gaza Strip, Mohammad Halabi, has been charged by the Israeli authorities with channelling millions of dollars of charitable funds to Hamas. Some will argue that this as an example of civil society organisations (CSOs) being vulnerable to corruption and political capture. But I see it as yet another example of states cracking down on civic space.
Read on: The Guardian Global Development


Leaving No One Behind: Land and environmental defenders at the heart of sustainable development goals

The phrase "leaving no one behind" is used no fewer than six times in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed by global leaders as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. While certainly a compelling phrase, as Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS, warned in the foreword of this year’s State of Civil Society Report, civil society needs to be in the vanguard of shaping and delivering this ‘Leave No One Behind’ agenda.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to stimulate action in areas of "critical importance for humanity and the planet" such as measures to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies free from fear and violence; to ensure that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature, and to create a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity
Read on: Reuters


Why We Need To Make The Next Olympics 'The People’s Games'

As the world tunes into the Rio 2016 Olympics, I feel ambivalent: torn between hoping the Games will deliver for Rio and for Brazil and knowing that, without radical reform, the selection processes for Olympic host cities will continue to have serious negative consequences, often for the most disadvantaged in our societies.

As the Games kick off, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, must be silently questioning whether his team made the best choice of host city. Of course, back in 2009 when Rio was first awarded the Games, not all the problems now facing the country could have been foreseen: the worst recession in 25 years, a presidential impeachment trial, an outbreak of Zika virus.
Read on: Huffington Post


UN Spotlight for Dark Shadow over Civil Society Rights

With more and more governments narrowing space for dissent and activism, the UN has emerged as a key platform to air concerns about acute rights violations and develop protections for civil society and other vulnerable groups.

The core freedoms that enable civil society to conduct its work are under threat across the world. A report recently released by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, documented serious violations of the freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly in 109 countries. Individual activists and journalists are also increasingly being targeted to prevent them from exercising their legitimate rights and undertaking their vital work. In 2015, Global witness documented the killing of three environmental activists per week – while the Committee to Protect Journalists identified 199 journalists who were behind bars at the end of 2015.
Read on: IPS News


Teachers and Students: Tip of Iceberg of Mexico’s Human Rights Crisis

Mexico is experiencing a monumental human rights crisis. There is abundant evidence of widespread human rights violations in the country, including torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and violence against journalists and human rights defenders. As worrying as the hard data is, what’s even more worrying is the Mexican government’s continued refusal to acknowledge the situation. In the words of Yésica Sánchez Maya of Consorcio Oaxaca, a local civil society organisation, the State “is investing more efforts and resources in denying the existence of a problem that is apparent [to the whole world] than in actually solving it.”
Read on: IPS News


Egypt: Targeting Mozn harmful to MENA regional gender justice struggle

When the Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) Regional Coalition for Middle East and North Africa met this past week in Beirut, one seat was noticeably empty. While completing departure procedures at Cairo International Airport, authorities informed Mozn Hassan –passionate activist, co-founder and North Africa advisor for the Coalition, and executive director of the inspirational Nazra for Feminist Studies - that she was banned from travel.
Read on: Open Democracy: Arab Awakening


Re-igniting youth participation at CIVICUS

In recent years there has been an explosion of attention and focus on young people. As “43% of the world population is under 30 and only 1.8 billion people are between 10 and 24 years old”  young people are a global force that is striving to make their communities a better place. But as civil society faces constrictions and barriers, there is need to support youth organisations and movements to ensure they continue their good work.   

At CIVICUS, we are working to make sure that young people’s voices are heard, given a platform in our global civil society alliance and ultimately influence our work. Since 2007, CIVICUS has formally recognised the leading role that young people play within local, national and international civil society with the organization of CIVICUS Youth Assembly, which has become an established part of our work. With Youth Assemblies held in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 and most recently in Bogota in April 2016, CIVICUS have ensured a dedicated space for young people to be an integral part of the way we approach civil society discussions.

Read More


Youth at the forefront of sustainability

By Fideline Mboringong and Angga D. Martha

Earth is the one place that we all call home, but it is being suffocated by the exceptional pressure to provide natural resources to support demand from the ever increasing population. This excessive demand induced by the extreme capitalism logic, currently exceeds the earth’s regenerating capacity and the situation looks to be worsening. Unsustainable production and consumption patterns/ lifestyles are the order of the day as countries strive towards economic growth. Consumption and production patterns have a great impact on people and the environment now and will continue for future generations.

With this in mind, the United Nations launched the campaign for this year’s International Youth Day under the theme “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”, focusing on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production. 



Putting citizens at its heart: The UN needs a 21st century makeover

Most of today’s intergovernmental institutions – the UN included – were designed in the 1940s and 50s, with the pre-eminence of states in their blueprint and post-War hierarchies at their heart. It is a global governance system that has produced some hugely significant and positive outcomes, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the 1951 Refugee Convention, to CITES.


Challenging exclusion: why civil society matters

We live in an age of multiple paradoxes. In times of unparalleled wealth creation, according to Oxfam,  just 62 people own as much wealth as half of humanity while 700 million people or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population are said to live in extreme poverty on less than $1.9 a day.


We must step up the struggle for LGBTI rights

Every generation has its iconic struggle for equality, from the civil rights movement to the push towards gender parity. Today, that struggle is for LGBTI rights. For our generation, this debate sits at the vanguard of society’s efforts to achieve greater equality and inclusivity.


Five things international NGOs are blamed for

I hear lots of talk – sometimes in public and often in private – about the role of big NGOs in development. For many, international NGOs (INGOs) have become part of the problem, rather than the solution. I thought it might be useful to look at the top five accusations I hear levelled against INGOs.




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