civil society

 

  • New Report: Civic Space in the Americas

    People’s rights to organise, speak out and take action are being extensively violated in a large number of countries in the Americas. This is according to new research by global civil society alliance CIVICUS, the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), the Charity and Security Network, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (REDLAD) and the Rendir Cuentas initiative. Our findings are based on data from the CIVICUS Monitor, a new research collaboration to track and compare civic freedoms on a global scale.

     

  • NGOs Raise Concern Over Forcibly Disappeared Sayed Alawi

    Sayed Alawi has been detained for over nine months, with no access to a lawyer or to his family since his arrest. During this time, he was allowed only four brief phone calls to his family, who has repeatedly inquired during this time about the reasons for and location of his detention. To date, the authorities have not provided this information.In the letter, the NGOs urge the Bahraini government to immediately disclose the location and charges against Sayed Alawi and to provide him with access to his family, legal representation, and medical treatment. The NGOs call for the release of Sayed Alawi unless the Bahraini government has charged him with a recognizable criminal offence.

    Read the Joint Letter

     

  • Nigeria: ‘If passed, the NGO Bill will reduce the ability of CSOs to hold the government accountable and ensure that human rights are respected’

    CIVICUS speaks to Oluseyi Babatunde Oyebisi, Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) about the draconian NGO bill under consideration by Nigerian lawmakers and the implications that it would have for civil society. Based in Lagos, NNNGO supports Nigerian NGOs in their commitment to reduce poverty, promote human rights and spread the benefits of development among all people. NNNGO provides a range of services and opportunities to help its members achieve their organisational aims and exert influence on issues relevant to the national agenda.

     

  • Nigeria: Proposed NGO bill will be a death knell for civil society

    Abuja —A proposed bill currently before Nigeria’s lawmakers, which will give the government sweeping powers over non-governmental organisations (NGOs), threatens the existence of Nigerian civil society, if passed into law.

    The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) and global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, have warned that the bill is clearly intended as a means to undermine the work of NGOs, especially those working to hold the government accountable. The fact that the House of Representatives hastily announced a scheduled public hearing for 13 and 14 December 2017 in the capital, Abuja is indicative of the intention of the authorities to avoid broad participation of civil society organisations from the different parts of Nigeria and ram the bill through the Legislature.  Most CSOs are based outside of Abuja, where the public hearing will be held, making it difficult for them to travel to the hearing at short notice. 

    The Bill for the Establishment of the NGO’s Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Coordination and Monitoring of NGOs and Civil Society Organisations makes it compulsory for all NGOs operating in Nigeria to register with the government and requires them to include details such has location and duration of proposed activities as well as information on all sources of funding.  In addition, the proposed legislation states that NGOs will be required to provide “additional information” as requested by the Board during registration but does not say what this “additional information” would be. 

    These requirements make the registration process cumbersome and may inhibit the timely registration of some NGOs, making them susceptible to penalties.  In addition, making NGO registration compulsory goes against international standards for freedom of association as it prevents informal associations from existing and operating freely because of their lack of formal status.

    Said Oyebisi Oluseyi, NNNGO Director: “Civil society organisations in Nigeria provide social services to communities, contribute towards development outcomes and work to ensure that the government adheres to its human rights obligation.” If passed into law, the proposed NGO law will severely restrict the environment in which civil society operates and reverse socio-economic and democratic gains made over the years.” 

    The Bill provides wide powers to a regulatory agency to refuse to issue a registration certificate if, for example, it deems activities of the NGO to be against national interest.  The Agency also has the authority to suspend or cancel a certificate that has been issued. Such broad powers place NGOs — especially those critical of government actions and who speak out against corruption and human rights violations — at the mercy of the authorities who can deregister organisations as a punitive measure for holding the government to account. 

    The content of the Bill is symptomatic of a growing global trend we now experience among governments to thwart the work of civil society organisations by placing restrictions on them in law and practice and by using the term “foreign agents” to discredit their work.  

    In addition, the Bill requires that NGOs register every two years and that the names of NGOs that fail to do so are deleted from the national register, forcing such NGOs to cease all their activities. It states that the registration of an organisation will be renewed on condition that the organisation submits its tax clearance certificate and other relevant documentation required by the Board. 

    The Bill compels NGOs to submit projects to the relevant government Ministry for approval and then registered with the agency’s board before they are implemented. The Bill does not place a limit on the registration fees for NGOs but leaves it to the discretion of the Commission.  Individuals who violate provisions of the Bill face up to 18 months in prison or a huge fine and those convicted of such violations are prohibited from holding office in an NGO for a period of ten years.  

    Said David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead for CIVICUS: “If passed into law, this draconian bill will place civil society under the thumb of the government and practically take away the independence of NGOs.  It might also set a negative precedent in the West African region, aggravating an already hostile environment for civil society.”

    CIVICUS and NNNGO call on the Nigerian authorities to adhere to their constitutional and international obligations on freedom of association and expression and withdraw the Bill. 

    ENDS.

    For more information contact:

    Oyebisi Oluseyi

    Nigeria Network of NGOs

    +234 906 948 5207

    David Kode

    Lead: Campaigns and Advocacy

    CIVICUS

    +27 11 833 5959

     

  • Nuestro patrimonio es una sociedad civil de éxito

    Por William Gumede, presidente ejecutivo de la fundación Democracy Works

    La publicación de este artículo ha sido promovida por CIVICUS como parte de las celebraciones de nuestro 25 aniversario.

    Al celebrar nuestras diversas culturas durante el Mes del Patrimonio, vale la pena celebrar también una cultura de la sociedad civil que no sólo ha promovido la diversidad cultural, sino que también es diversa en sí misma, con un patrimonio ganado con mucho esfuerzo y que lucha incansablemente por los derechos de los pueblos de este país.

    Encuentre el artículo en inglés en: Mail and Guardian

     

  • 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 

     

  • Open Letter to President Aquino Concerning Civil Society in the Philippines

    Click here to download

     

  • Open letter: Ensure continued monitoring of the human rights situation in Eritrea

    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council

    Excellency,

    We, the undersigned human rights organizations, are writing to urge you to support the adoption of a resolution at the upcoming 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council (“Council”) to maintain a monitoring and reporting mandate on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

    The human rights situation in Eritrea remains dire, notwithstanding recent developments, including the Eritrea-Ethiopia Summit, the reopening of the border between the two countries, and the signing of a tripartite agreement between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia.

    A free and independent press continues to be absent from the country and 16 journalists remain in detention without trial, many since 2001. Eritrean authorities are yet to produce evidence that those arbitrarily jailed are alive. Throughout the country, authorities have restricted and suppressed civic space. At the Council’s 40th session in March 2019, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted impunity for past and ongoing human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention, violations of the right to a fair trial, lack of information on the fate and whereabouts of disappeared persons, lack of access to justice, lack of enforcement of the 1997 Constitution, the imposition of severe restrictions to the enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and religion or belief, and the continued use of indefinite national service involving torture, sexual violence and forced labour. She stressed: “[A]s far as [the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR] is aware, the actual human rights situation for the people of Eritrea has not improved in the past year.” Ongoing severe violations, including their gendered impact and generalised impunity, call for a high level of monitoring and public reporting.

    This is the wrong time for the Council to relax scrutiny of the situation in Eritrea. In its resolution 38/15, adopted by consensus in July 2018, the Council invited the Special Rapporteur to “assess and report on the situation of human rights and the engagement and cooperation of the Government of Eritrea with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, as well as with the Office of the High Commissioner, and, where feasible, to develop benchmarks for progress in improving the situation of human rights and a time-bound plan of action for their implementation.”

    The Special Rapporteur will present her report on reform benchmarks at the upcoming Council session. These provisions, which offer a constructive way forward, outline an expectation of continued attention to, and engagement with, the country. The Council should now ensure adequate follow-up. Failure to do so would doubtless be interpreted by Eritrea as an endorsement of the status quo, further entrenching systemic rights violations. Discontinuation of the mandate should only occur when and if these benchmarks are met and there is demonstrable and concrete progress in the promotion, protection and realisation of human rights.

    As a newly-elected member of the Council, Eritrea has an obligation to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and to “fully cooperate with the Council” (UN General Assembly resolution 60/251). Eritrea has not adhered to its membership obligations and has neither invited the Special Rapporteur nor accepted her request to visit the country. Eritrea is one of only 22 countries that have never received a country visit from any Special Procedure, despite requests from numerous mandate-holders.

    Obstructionist behavior should not be rewarded. Eritrea’s membership in the Council should be fully leveraged for improvements in the country’s human rights situation and cooperation with the Council and its mechanisms. The Council should urge Eritrea to change course and engage with the UN human rights system.

    At its 41st session, the Council should make clear that membership does not prevent, but rather triggers an enhanced responsibility to accept, scrutiny. It should adopt a resolution maintaining a Special Procedure mandate and a high level of monitoring and public reporting, to ensure that the grave and systemic human rights violations identified by OHCHR and the Council’s own mechanisms are addressed and accountability for these violations is achieved.

    We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information.

    Sincerely,

    Signatories: 

    AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)

    Amnesty International

    ARTICLE 19

    Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)

    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

    Center for Reproductive Rights

    CIVICUS

    Civil Rights Defenders

    Committee to Protect Journalists

    CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

    DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

    Eritrea Focus

    Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA)

    Eritrean Law Society (ELS)

    Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)

    Front Line Defenders

    Geneva for Human Rights / Genève pour les Droits de l’Homme

    Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

    Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE)

    Human Rights Defenders Network - Sierra Leone

    Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)

    Human Rights Watch

    International Commission of Jurists

    Information Forum for Eritrea (IFE)

    International Refugee Rights Initiative

    International Service for Human Rights

    Network of Eritrean Women (NEW)

    Odhikar, Bangladesh

    One Day Seyoum

    Release Eritrea

    Reporters Without Borders

    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

     

  • Opinion: Government attacks on humanitarian organisations and human rights rising

    By Lysa John, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.

    There are now serious restrictions in civic space on every continent, but yet even as they grab more power, we find the world’s leaders are apparently incapable of responding to the great challenges of the day. They are failing to fight overwhelming inequality, remaining silent on the human rights abuses of states such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan, and letting down the people of Syria and the Rohingya people of Myanmar, among many others.

    From Brazil to India, deeply divisive political agendas are seen to have gained national prominence by harnessing public anger toward fundamental economic and governance failures. The promise of anti-establishment change has helped authoritarian leaders win elections by joining groups of people together on the basis of what they oppose, but without tangible evidence of change that addresses the failures behind people’s anger.

    Read on: Devex

     

  • Osama Al-Najjar

    OSAMA AL-NAJJAR

    Name: Osama Al-Najjar

    Location: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

    Reasons Behind Bars

    Human rights defender and online activist Osama Al- Najjar, was arrested on 17 March 2014 in Abu Dhabi by state security forces.  Preceding his arrest, Osama was returning from the Arazeen jail where his imprisoned father, Hossain Al-Najjar, is currently serving an eleven year prison sentence for being a member of UAE94, a group of 94 activists serving heavy prison sentences on highly questionable grounds for  attempting to overthrow UAE’s authoritarian government.

    Upon his arrest, Osama’s whereabouts were kept secret from his immediate family. He was kept in solitary confinement and tortured at a secret detention centre  in Abu Dhabi for four days before he was transferred to the Alwathab jail in Abu Dhabi. 

    Osama remained in pre-trial detention for six months before his first court hearing on 23 September 2014 at the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi. He is charged with being a member of Al-Islah (Reform and Social Guidance Association), a group banned in UAE for its alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood, offending the State on Twitter, instigating hatred against the State via Twitter and spreading lies on Twitter about the torture of his father.

    During his second hearing at the same court on 14 October 2014, Osama expressed that he was prevented from accessing his case file and was not allowed to contact his lawyer while in detention. The court postponed Osama’s case for a third time to 28 October 2014 to hear pleadings from both the defence and the prosecution. UAE authorities have not yet shared information on Osama’s final hearing, raising serious concerns that Osama’s access to justice will be delayed in reprisals for  his legitimate human rights work.

    Background Information

    Osama has been active on Twitter since 2012 and has used the platform to highlight fundamental human rights of political detainees and call for an end to their ill- treatment. Osama has also in the past commented on the unfair trial and imprisonment of the UAE94.  On 16 March 2014, hours before his arrest, Osama replied to the ruler of Sharjah on Twitter and said “The people responsible for imprisoning and harassing my father for the past 20 months owe him.”

    The arbitrary arrest of Osama Al-Najjar is another routine example that demonstrates UAE authorities’ growing intolerance of online and offline dissent. Since its second cycle review under the Universal Periodic Review in 2013, UAE has placed a number of worrying restrictions on the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and has not yet ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

    For more information:

    Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) Update: UAE: Trial of human rights defender Osama Al-Najjar continues

    Frontline Defenders: Human rights defender Mr Osama Al-Najjar not given access to his case file or allowed contact his lawyer

    Take Action

    Join  Amnesty International's Urgent Action and write to the President  Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the Minister of Interior demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Osama Al-Najjar

     

  • Our heritage is a successful civil society

    By William Gumede, Executive Chairperson of Democracy Works Foundation

    The publication of this piece was facilitated by CIVICUS as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations

    As we celebrate our diverse cultures during Heritage Month, worth celebrating too is a civil society culture that has not only promoted cultural diversity but is also itself diverse, with a hard-won heritage of tirelessly fighting for the rights of the people in this country.

    Read on: Mail and Guardian

     

  • PAPUA NEW GUINEA: ‘If we allow seabed mining everyone is at risk’

    Following a year marked by massive mobilisation around the climate emergency, CIVICUS is interviewing civil society activists, leaders and experts about the main environmental challenges they face and the actions they are taking. CIVICUS speaks withJonathan Mesulam, spokesperson for the Alliance of Solwara Warriors and a campaigner on issues relating to experimental deep-sea mining, climate change and logging in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

    The Alliance of Solwara Warriors is an anti-mining alliance of local communities in areas affected by deep-sea mines in PNG and across the Pacific. It has organised theresistance  against seabed mining since 2009, when the controversial deep-sea mining project Solwara 1 was proposed to mine mineral-rich hydrothermal vents on the floor of the Bismarck Sea. The alliance also launched alegal case against the project in PNG's courts. In November 2019, the company behind Solwara 1, Nautilus, was declared bankrupt and it is uncertain if the project will continue.

    Jonathan Mesulam

    Can you tell us about the Alliance of Solwara Warriors and how it was formed? What are its main objectives and why is it opposed to seabed mining?

    The Alliance of Solwara Warriors was formed in 2016 by representatives of communities along the Bismarck Sea who are threatened by seabed mining. The members of the Alliance also include the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches, international and local environmental civil society organisations (CSOs), educated elites, local community-based organisations and a few politicians who support the call to ban deep-sea mining. Our main objective is to ban deep-sea mining in PNG waters and the Pacific and we also call for the cancellation of exploration and mining licences.

    Seabed mining is a new frontier for the mining industry and is very risky as our understanding of the seabed is very limited. The first discovery of deep-sea minerals was in 1979 and we have no idea how the seabed ecosystem operates. If we allow seabed mining, then we may just call for the end of humanity, as the complexity of the food chains on which humans depend will be affected, putting human life at risk. I think we should all stand in solidarity to ban deep-sea mining in our area because the sea has no boundaries and when the marine ecosystem is affected, everyone everywhere is at risk.

    Environmental and legal groups have urged extremecaution around seabed mining, arguing there are potentially massive – and unknown – ramifications for the environment and for nearby communities, and that the global regulatory framework is not yet drafted, and is currently deficient.

    How has the campaign against seabed mining progressed? What have you achieved?

    The campaign against seabed mining has been very challenging and at times we almost lost hope because of the heavy presence of Nautilus, the company behind the Solwara project, at the project site for the last eight years. However, there has been growing opposition from coastal communities, local and international CSOs and churches, especially the Catholic and Lutheran churches. An environmental law firm, the Centre for Environment and Community Rights, filed a legal case and we were able to stop this project from going into full-scale mining operation. Every concerned individual and organisation has played a very important role in their respective areas of work, such as finance, the environment and politics, to stop this project.

    During the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum, held in Tuvalu in August 2019, the Pacific Island leaders also called for a 10-year moratorium on deep-sea mining. But that is not what we wanted. We arecalling for a total ban on deep-sea mining.

    What challenges has the alliance faced in recent years?

    Funding activism is a big challenge. To travel to a community to talk to people you need to pay for a bus. You have to raise funds to enable mobility and communication. The second major challenge is capacity development. As members of an alliance we deal with that by distributing challenges; we then help each other and strategise in our workshops so that we can learn from each other. Networking helps with this a lot, and the support of partners such as Bismark Ramu Group, Caritas PNG and the PNG Council of Churches.

    We have also received a lot of support from CSOs and individuals outside the country. People and organisations including Sir David Attenborough, the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Mining Watch Canada and Caritas New Zealand, just to name a few, have really supported the campaign in terms of funding, providing information on the campaign and lobbying with banks and financers not to support such a project. As a result, we have seen positive results in our work on the ground.

    Another challenge we face is that some people in the community support deep-sea mining, and this creates division. We have had to work hard at times to really convince people that this project is not good. It's only through persistent, dedicated work and making information available so that people have all the facts, not just the perspective that the company wants people to know, that people will really support you. Once people know the truth, then you get the support.

    What is the state of civic freedoms – the freedom of association peaceful assembly and expression – in Papua New Guinea?

    The media in PNG is controlled by the state and they only publish stories that are good for the government. Sometimes our stories are not covered, and we end up publishing them through social media. The right to the freedom of association in PNG really depends on the kind of issues that are being addressed. On some very sensitive issues, the police will not allow people to organise and take part in protests. Our ability to carry on our work alsodepends on the kind of companies we are dealing with. Some companies have spent millions of Kina – the PNG currency – to stop environmental human rights defenders, and going against them is obviously risky.

    Civic space inPapua New Guinea is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor

    Get in touch with the Alliance of Solwara Warriors through itsFacebook page.

     

  • Pese al acoso, el movimiento estudiantil hondureño se niega a retroceder

    English

    CIVICUS conversa con Héctor Ulloa, estudiante de doble licenciatura en Derecho y Economía, vicepresidente de la Asociación de Estudiantes de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional de Honduras y fundador del Movimiento Progresista Universitario (PRO).

     

  • Pierre C. Mbonimpa

    Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Name: Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Country: Burundi 

    Update: 

    He was provisionally released from jail but is in exile at the moment. He was shot and seriously injured on 3 August 2015 and was taken out of the country for medical treatment. His son in law, Pascal Nshimirimana, was subsequently assassinated on 9 October 2015.

    Reason behind bars:  

    Leading Burundian human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was arrested at midnight on 15 May 2014 in Bujumbura was interrogated by prosecutors and later charged with inciting public disobedience and threatening national security on the basis of comments he made on Burundian radio station,  Radio Publique Africaine (RPA).  He is one of Burundi’s leading human rights defenders and president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH).   The charges against him stem from comments he made on Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) on 6 May 2014 that some youth from Burundi were being armed and sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for military training.   Before his arrest, he was questioned by the police about the comments he had made on radio. Pierre Claver is a former police officer, a former prisoner and founded APRODH to defend prisoner’s rights and the rights of all Burundians. He is currently being detained at the Prison Centrale de Mbimpa. 

    Pierre Claver Mbonimpa (66 years old) is a leading human rights defender in Burundi and had served in the police force before 1994.   He was imprisoned for two years on the basis of false accusations and after experiencing the harsh and deplorable conditions in prison, he formed APRODH.  He has over the years campaigned against extra-judicial killings and publicly condemned the poor living conditions in Burundi’s prisons.   

    He has been a victim of judicial harassment and persecution in the past for his human rights activities and in 2010 he was summoned by the judicial authorities and interrogated about the work he was doing on the case of human rights defender Ernest Manirumva who was assassinated in 2009 while investigating allegations of corruption in the Burundian police.

     Prior to his arrest on 15 May 2014, he responded to summons from the police on 7 and 12 May and sent his lawyer to represent him on 14 May.  He was interrogated about the comments he made on RPA and was later arrested at the airport in Bujumbura on 15 May while on his way to Kenya.   He is a recipient of the 2007 Martin Ennals Award and the 2011 Henry Dunant Award.   He is a prisoner of conscience arrested and intimidated for his human rights activities.   

    For more Information 

    Joint Submission by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, NGO in General Consultative Status with ECOSOC And Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la région des Grandes Lacs

    Burundi: release human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Burundi: Confirmation de la détention préventive de M. Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Letter calling for the release of Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

     

  • Re: Proposed International Cooperation Bill

    Presidente de la República
    S.E. Hugo Chávez Frías
    Palacio de Miraflores, Caracas,
    Venezuela
    Fax:+58.212.806 3698
    E-mail:
     

    Your Excellency,

     
     

    Re: Proposed International Cooperation Bill

     
     
     
    I write as the Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, an international alliance of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. CIVICUS works to strengthen civil society and citizen action throughout the world.
     
     
    We at CIVICUS, our members and partners, are deeply concerned about your recent comments urging National Assembly members to adopt a "severe" law to effectively stop international funding for NGOs. We would like to emphasise that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play an extremely important role in national life. Their constructive criticism and quest for greater accountability in public life are important assets for the nation. We therefore urge your government to respect expressions of legitimate dissent and unequivocally uphold civil society's rights to express, associate and assemble freely.
     
     

    We would like to draw your attention to the International Cooperation Bill, currently being discussed by law makers. We believe that the bill has been drawn up without adequate consultation with civil society. Moreover, we are deeply apprehensive that that passage of the Bill in its current form will severely curtail civil society space in the following ways:

    1. Subjecting CSOs to additional layers of bureaucracy by requiring them to register with the government in order to receive funds from international sources could increase the possibility of subjective denial of registration to CSOs who have been critical of official actions.
    2. The creation of an official fund for International Cooperation and Assistance for the collection of monetary grants from overseas and their subsequent disbursement by the government is likely to impede international cooperation activities between Venezuelan CSOs and their counterparts abroad. Moreover, it will lead to government ownership and prioritisation of international cooperation funds rather than democratic ownership by CSOs and local communities.
    3. By increasing executive discretion to monitor CSO affairs through the creation of an Agency for International Cooperation, limits of whose powers and have not been clearly defined, raising apprehension of increased restrictions on CSO affairs. 

    We believe that the registration and funding requirements of the Bill, given their ambiguity, have the potential to breach the right to freedom of association embodied in the Venezuelan Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration. 

    We urge you to use your executive powers and influence to carry out consultations with civil society with regard to the need for an international cooperation law as well as the principles that should underpin any regulatory mechanism for civil society.

    Sincerely,

    Ingrid Srinath
    Secretary General
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

     

  • 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

     

  • Renewing democracy: proposals and ideas from civil society

    By Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS Chief Programmes Officer

     If we could reimagine the kind of democracy we live in and the way we experience democracy, what would it look and be like?

    This was the question our global civil society alliance CIVICUS put to thought leaders and activists from nearly 80 countries across the globe, in a year-long Reimagining Democracy initiative. Our report entitled, Democracy for all: Beyond a crisis of imagination, draws from insights gleaned from almost 100 interviews, 54 essays and 26 ‘democracy dialogues’ from across the world to discuss the state of democracy.

     Read on: Democracy without borders

     

  • Response to DFID Civil Society Partnership Review

    Many in civil society will mourn the loss of the PPA. DFID core funding helped build capable and confident organisations that were able to plan long-term and holistic interventions. Any new system will introduce new uncertainties and administrative burdens that will hamper the effectiveness of civil society.
     
    We do welcome DFID’s commitment to supporting a diverse range of civil society actors, especially smaller and Southern organisations, and to doing more to support civic space. The focus on feedback loops and new forms of accountability has the potential to yield some exciting and transformative change.

    - Dr Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary General, CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance

    For further information and to request interviews, please contact .

     

  • Rio +20 Civil Society Survey

    Dr. Shannon Orr is running a study of Civil Society participation at Rio+20. Contribute with your thoughts on the Rio+20 meeting, and the role of organizations such as yours within the United Nations.

    Take the Survey

     

  • RUSSIA: ‘Human rights activism can be expected to increase in reaction to repression’

    CIVICUS speaks with Leonid Drabkin, a coordinator with OVD-Info, an independent human rights civil society organisation (CSO) that documents and helps the victims of political persecution in Russia. Through a hotline and other sources, OVD-Info collects information about detentions at public rallies and other cases of political persecution, publishes the news and coordinates legal assistance to detainees.