• "Obstinadamente optimista": Reflexiones de Lysa John, CIVICUS SG


    Han pasado poco más de 60 días desde que asumí mi nuevo papel en CIVICUS y la pregunta que me hacen con más frecuencia es: ¿Cómo es ser Secretaria General? Afortunadamente, esta pregunta tiene una respuesta sencilla. Implica recordar a diario el trabajo tan necesario que realizan personas y organizaciones de todo el mundo, en favor de la defensa y el fomento de los valores y libertades civiles. También implica ser decididamente optimista sobre la capacidad que tenemos como sociedad civil para demostrar una mayor rendición de cuentas e impacto, mientras continuamos aprendiendo entre nosotros, así como de todas las personas que defienden las causas en las que creemos.


  • "Stubbornly optimistic": Reflections from Lysa John, CIVICUS SG


    It has been a little over 60 days since I took on my new role with CIVICUS and the question I get asked most frequently is:How does it feel to be SG?Fortunately, this query has an easy answer! It involves being reminded on a daily basis of the need to celebrate and reinforce efforts taken to defend and strengthen rights-based values and freedoms by individuals and organisations worldwide. It also involves being stubbornly optimistic about our ability as civil society to demonstrate greater accountability and impact, while continuing to learn from each other and from unconventional champions of the causes we believe in!


  • 25 years later, looking back at my CIVICUS journey


    by Anabel Cruz, Board Chair 2016-2019

    Anabel Cruz Action ShotIn early 1993, democracy was rather “young” in many parts of the world. Only less than four years had passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall; Apartheid had not yet been totally dismantled and the first elections in South Africa held with universal suffrage were to happen the year after, in 1994. At the same time, the early nineties saw several countries in Latin America taking their first steps towards elected democracies, after more than a decade of military dictatorships.

    Internet did not exist yet, and global communications were something at least very new, slow and difficult. Only one year earlier, in 1992, a professor of sociology at the University of Aberdeen had described globalisation as the compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole.

    So, in that context, isn’t it really admirable that a group of individuals, from diverse regions and parts of the world, came together to found CIVICUS, as a global alliance of civil society organisations? Those visionaries defined the mission of the new Alliance as: “to strengthen citizen action and influence, based on the underlying principle that free and effective societies exist in direct proportion to their degree of citizen participation and influence." (CIVICUS Organising Committee, minutes Lisbon meeting January 1993).

    Today, more than 25 years later, this mission is still valid and current, and it is also our permanent challenge. Freedom, participation and solidarity remain as one of our basic goals and fundamental values.

    My 25-year journey with CIVICUS

    As I reflect on my own journey with CIVICUS, a series of images come to my mind, and I relive my first contacts with CIVICUS like one of those high-speed movies. I learned of the new organisation in the first months of 1993: while helping to consolidate local democracy, civil society organisations in Latin America were seeking new international horizons and collaborations.

    I never imagined that my visit to Independent Sector in Washington DC, at that moment hosting the recently founded Alliance, would result in such a long-lasting and enduring relationship. For the last 25 years, I have had the privilege of following and participating in CIVICUS history, its achievements, challenges, strategies and course corrections, from diverse positions: I have been a member, a partner, a Board member, the Chair of Board in two different opportunities.

    One of CIVICUS first successful steps was probably its first international meeting. Soon after the organisation was founded, in 1995, the first CIVICUS World Assembly took place in Mexico City: 500 people from more than 50 different countries came together to learn about the new organisation and to have conversations on how to strengthen citizen action and cooperation opportunities. Since that moment, 16 global events have been organised in all parts of the world, global gatherings for civil society to connect, debate and create shared solutions, now known as International Civil Society Week (ICSW). The most recent one, in Belgrade, Serbia happened just last month, and was a vibrant gathering attended by over 700 delegates from 92 countries.

    From the very beginning, CIVICUS prioritised activities such as networking, information-gathering and building the capacity of existing and new national and regional associations. Consistent with this, the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) was one of CIVICUS’ first, and still enduring, programmes, bringing together national associations and regional platforms from around the world for more than 20 years to foster greater cooperation across boundaries.

    Building civil society knowledge in a changing world

    From its inception in 1993, CIVICUS has sought to make a significant contribution to recording the rise of civil society around the world, and to building a knowledge base on civil society by civil society. A first World Report on Citizen Participation came out as early as 1995, intended to get a grasp on the state of civil society worldwide. Later in 1997 The New Civic Atlas was published, as a compilation of civil society profiles from 60 countries around the world. In order to provide consistency with regard to the issues covered and a more rigorous comparative framework and after a number of consultations, in 1999 CIVICUS was ready to launch a new idea, the Civil Society Index (CSI).

    I remember so well the words of former CIVICUS Secretary General Kumi Naidoo, reporting years later that participants of the CSI consultations had described the project as “an exercise in madness,” especially due to the lack of data on civil society in most countries, and the contested definition of civil society that would not allow comparisons or global analysis. But CIVICUS challenged the paradigms once again and the so-called Diamond Tool was presented in the CIVICUS World Assembly in Manila, as the preliminary methodological design for the CSI project.

    Subsequently, CIVICUS developed a fully-fledged project design and the CSI had its pilot phase from 2000 to 2002, with the CSI implemented in 13 countries. The evaluation of the pilot phase recommended modifications in the methodology and considered the Index project as “an innovative, contextually flexible, empowering and uniquely participatory tool for self-assessment by civil society stakeholders of the state of civil society in their countries” Two full phases followed, from 2003 to 2006, with the participation of 53 countries, and from 2008 to 2011, with the CSI implemented in 56 countries and also at regional level in six African countries.

    The results of the decade of CSI implementation yielded an enormous contribution to the body of knowledge about civil society around the world. The world was changing very fast, new actors burst onto the scene: The Indignados Movement in Madrid, the student protests in Chile and in other countries, the Arab Spring, all these new started to rise in late 2010 with peaks during 2011 and 2012. The CSI findings were clear and very well oriented, pointing out a noticeable disconnect between established civil society organisations and the increasing number of citizens involved in both new and traditional forms of activism. It does not come as surprise that the final CSI report title was “Bridging the gaps: citizens, organisations and dissociations” (2011) and concluded that the CSI needed to evolve to encompass the changing landscape.

    Conditions for civil society proved to be volatile and can change very rapidly, so information cannot be out of date. Indeed, more agile tools were needed, without compromising the rigor that characterized the CSI tool, in order to continue providing a leading barometer of that human impulse to freedom, justice and collective endeavour.

    CIVICUS has listened and has tried to respond to the changing situations and the multiple demands. The State of Civil Society Report, published annually since 2013 and the CIVICUS Monitor launched in 2016, are part of that necessary evolution. The State of Civil Society Report has become CIVICUS' flagship annual publication, providing the key trends affecting civil society organisations (CSOs) and citizen movements. Furthermore, the CIVICUS Monitor is a research tool aimed to share reliable, up-to-date data on the state of civil society freedoms in all countries. Danny Sriskandarajah, our Secretary General from 2012 to 2018, defined the CIVICUS Monitor as “the first robust and comprehensive tool to track conditions for civil society around the world”.

    The road ahead…

    CIVICUS is indeed one of the few organisations whose main job is to protect and promote civil society writ large, all over the world. And in the years to come, no doubt that CIVICUS will continue listening to our members, partners, to our primary constituencies and will always be ready to innovate, will work hard to understand realities to defend civic and democratic freedoms, to strengthen the power of people, and to empower a more accountable and innovative civil society.

    As we prepare to address new challenges, we are fortunate to find ourselves in a position of strength at CIVICUS: with a stable financial base, a committed and diverse board, a broad and growing membership and a talented secretariat team led by Lysa John, our inspiring new Secretary General. We have the best conditions to continuing strengthening citizen participation around the world.

    As I step down from the Board soon, I can only say how privileged and grateful I feel. Thank you for the opportunity of having served for so many years, for all the learnings, for the love and friendship that I have received, for having met the most committed people to justice that can exist. CIVICUS is about shared values, solidarity and inclusion. I will always be a champion for those values. Thank you CIVICUS!

    Anabel Cruz

    Chair of the Board of CIVICUS 2016-2019


  • 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


  • CSOs call for action for inclusive Sustainable Development process at Civil Society Summit in Belgrade

    Belgrade, Serbia – Civil society organisation (CSO) representatives, development workers, activists, and campaigners from all over the world are gathering in Belgrade, Serbia on April 8, 2019 for the Civil Society Summit as part of International Civil Society Week. The Civil Society Summit 2019 aims to leverage the energy and commitment of civic leaders representing thousands of CSOs, and human rights and climate activists around the world to demand that governments, parliamentarians, businesses, inter-governmental bodies, and citizens take action in promoting people’s participation in building a sustainable world.


  • El poder de la unión durante la ICSW 2019

    Para aquellos de nosotros que estuvimos en Belgrado hace unas semanas es difícil pensar en el mes de abril y no recordarlo como la culminación de meses de preparación para la Semana Internacional de la Sociedad Civil. Bajo el lema El poder de la unión, la ICSW reunió a más de 700 delegados internacionales de 92 países del 8 al 12 de abril para que participaran en coloquios y acciones organizadas por los 42 socios del evento. Las actividades sobre el terreno se vieron acompañados por un torrente de comentarios en los medios de comunicación y en Internet, para así promover ciertos temas fuera del evento y en todo el mundo.


  • Grassroots Organising Points the way in Fight Against Rising Repression

    By Lysa John, CIVICUS Secretary General

    This article is part of a series on the current state of civil society organisations (CSOs), which will be the focus of International Civil Society Week (ICSW), scheduled to take place in Belgrade, April 8-12. 

    “I never thought it would get so big and I think it is amazing.”

    The words of a 16-year-old Swedish teenager who skipped school to protest outside her government’s inaction on climate change. Greta Thunberg is marvelling at how, in just a few short months, her solitary protests outside Sweden’s parliament, have inspired and united hundreds of thousands of young people and others across the globe into a powerful, growing grassroots movement for climate change action.

    Read on: Inter Press Service


  • Human Rights Defenders Need to be Defended as Much as they Defend our Rights

    By Micahel Frost, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and a speaker at the International Civil Society Week, 8-12 April 2019, in Belgrade, Serbia

    This article is part of a series on the current state of civil society organisations (CSOs), which will be the focus of International Civil Society Week (ICSW)

     They are ordinary people – mothers, fathers, sisters, sons, daughters, brothers, friends. But for me they are extraordinary people – the ones who have the courage to stand up for everyone else’s rights. They are the human rights defenders.

    Last year, according to reliable sources, 321 of them were killed, in 27 countries. Their murders were directly caused by the work they do to ensure the rest of us enjoy the rights we claim as purely because we are human.

    Read on: Inter Press Service 


  • ICSW 2019, New Board, Opportunities: Updates from Lysa John, CIVICUS SG



    For those of us who were in Belgrade a few weeks ago, it is hard to think of April as anything but the culmination of months of preparation towards the International Civil Society Week (ICSW). Themed around the ‘Power of Togetherness’, the ICSW brought together over 700 international delegates from 92 countries to engage with dialogues and actions organised by 42 event partners across 8-12 April. Events on the ground were accompanied a stream of media and online commentary aimed at profiling relevant issues beyond the event.


  • International Civil Society Week: Citizen Action, People Power

    International Civil Society Week: Citizen Action, People Power
    8th - 15th November, Johannesburg, South Africa

    CIVICUS and its partners will host a series of events from 8-15 November in Johannesburg, South Africa, which will bring civil society organisations and activists together to address some of the most important issues facing global civil society today. International Civil Society Week is expected to convene more than 300 civil society actors from around the world.

    Below, you will find the full programme for the week, as well as hyperlinks to registration forms and contact details for more information. You can also download your International Civil Society Week welcome pack.


    9 Nov

    Registration closed

    Global Call for action Against Poverty (GCAP) Global Assembly

    Protea Hotel Parktonian

    Invitation only

    CIVICUS Board of Directors Meeting

    ActionAid Offices


    10 Nov

    Registration closed

    Global Call for action Against Poverty (GCAP) Global Assembly

    Constitution Hill

    Invitation only

    CIVICUS Board of Directors Meeting

    ActionAid Offices

    Invitation only

    Development Awareness Raising and Education (DARE) Forum

    Protea Hotel Parktonian

    Invitation only

    Post 2015 and the Enabling Environment for Civil Society

    Protea Hotel Parktonian


    11 Nov

    Registration closed

    DEEEP “Building a Global Citizens Movement” Conference

    Protea Hotel Parktonian

    Registration open

    The State of Human Rights and Civic Space in the Commonwealth – read the concept note

    Protea Hotel Parktonian
    Register here


    12 Nov

    Registration closed

    DEEEP “Building a Global Citizens Movement” Conference

    Protea Hotel Parktonia

    Open for observation

    CIVICUS Members’ Annual General Meeting

    Wits Science Stadium

    Registration open

    Old Struggles, New Movements Event - view the poster

    Wits Science Stadium
    Register here


    13 Nov

    Invitation only

    African Human Rights Defenders Workshop

    Gender Links Cottages

    Invitation only

    Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) Annual General Meeting

    CIVICUS House

    Invitation only

    CIVICUS Youth Advisory Group Workshop

    CIVICUS House

    Invitation only

    Global Perspectives 2013 Conference

    Sunnyside Park Hotel


    14 Nov

    Invitation only

    CIVICUS Youth Advisory Group Workshop

    CIVICUS House

    Registration open

    Meet the CIVICUS Youth Advisory Group Event – view profiles

    CIVICUS House
    Register here

    Invitation only

    Global Perspectives 2013 Conference

    Sunnyside Park Hotel


    15 Nov

    Invitation only

    Global Perspectives 2013 Conference

    Sunnyside Park Hotel


  • La sociedad civil internacional se reunirá en los Balcanes con el objetivo de fortalecer «el poder de la unión».

    • La Semana Internacional de la Sociedad Civil 2019 –ICSW, por sus siglas en inglés– reunirá en Belgrado, Serbia, a más de setecientos líderes de la sociedad civil, activistas y ciudadanos interesados de diferentes sectores y regiones en torno a varios temas con el fin abordar los desafíos mundiales más acuciantes en el ámbito de los derechos humanos, la democracia y el desarrollo internacional.
    • Por primera vez en casi un cuarto de siglo de ediciones internacionales, este evento se realizará en los Balcanes, una región idónea para explorar la necesidad de unidad y el poder de la acción colectiva.
    • La ICSW contará con al menos treinta sesiones clave y eventos asociados que abordarán una serie de cuestiones decisivas: desde la ayuda de emergencia a las ONG objeto de ataques, pasando por la reducción de las libertades de los medios de comunicación, hasta una mayor rendición de cuentas en el seno de la sociedad civil.

    Belgrado, Serbia — En todo el mundo las organizaciones de derechos humanos sufren cada vez más los ataques de los gobiernos. Los activistas, periodistas y demás personas que se pronuncian contra las crecientes restricciones son perseguidos. Un auge histórico de líderes populistas continúa erosionando las libertades fundamentales, intensificando la polarización política y sembrando la división.

    Estamos inmersos en un mar de amenazas internacionales sin precedentes a las cuales la sociedad civil y los ciudadanos de todo el mundo ya han empezado a responder con una renovada determinación.

    En este contexto se han abierto las inscripciones para la Semana Internacional de la Sociedad Civil 2019 –ICSW, por sus siglas en inglés–, un evento internacional que se desarrollará del 8 al 12 de abril en Belgrado, Serbia, en el que participarán más de setecientos líderes de la sociedad civil de diferentes sectores y regiones, y que abordará distintos temas. Los delegados compartirán ideas y propondrán soluciones comunes para algunos de los desafíos más acuciantes en el ámbito de los derechos humanos, la democracia y el desarrollo internacional, y explorarán cómo liberar el poder de la acción colectiva para defender las libertades democráticas en todo el mundo.

    La organización de este evento es fruto de trabajo conjunto de la alianza mundial de la sociedad civil, CIVICUS, y de la asociación serbia de la sociedad civil, Civic Initiatives, y cuenta con el apoyo de la Balkans Civil Society Development Network. El programa de la ICSW cuenta con al menos treinta sesiones que abordarán temas que van desde la represión de la libertad de los medios de comunicación y las ayudas de emergencia a las ONG objeto de ataques, hasta la rendición de cuentas dentro de la sociedad civil. Esta sesiones estarán acompañadas por una gran variedad de actividades organizadas por nuestros socios y de discursos clave a cargo de oradores de alto nivel. Gracias a la fuerza de su alianza compuesta por más de 7 000 miembros de 175 países y a su presencia regional, CIVICUS y Civic Initiatives han logrado la implicación de más de treinta socios para la organización del evento, así como la participación una serie de oradores inspiradores de alto nivel que compartirán sus experiencias y conocimientos con los delegados.

    En un país tras otro, la democracia está siendo objeto de ataques y los movimientos populistas y de derecha siguen ganando terreno; incluso en países considerados históricamente como bastiones de la democracia se observa una regresión democrática.

    Según CIVICUS Monitor, una plataforma en línea que rastrea las amenazas que pesan sobre la sociedad civil en todos los países, solo el 4 % de la población mundial vive en lugares donde se respetan y protegen adecuadamente sus derechos a la libertad de expresión, asociación y reunión.

    «Pese a esto, la sociedad civil está luchando y buscando formas nuevas e innovadoras para organizarse y actuar. Vemos como se forjan nuevas alianzas, así como una creciente apertura a la construcción de coaliciones: activistas que trabajan por diferentes causas y en distintas comunidades se unen para luchar por cuestiones comunes», afirmó Lysa John, secretaria general de CIVICUS.

    «El evento de este año en Serbia se produce en un momento crucial y oportuno para que la sociedad civil y los ciudadanos del mundo se den cuenta del poder de las acciones conjuntas y colectivas para desafiar una tendencia mundial que amenaza nuestras libertades fundamentales», declaró John.

    El tema de este año, El poder de la unión, explora cómo las personas y las organizaciones de todo el mundo pueden trabajar juntas y cómo están ya haciéndolo con el fin de favorecer y defender espacios para la acción cívica en un mundo en el que las transformaciones globales están reconfigurando el funcionamiento de la sociedad civil.

    Por primera vez en casi un cuarto de siglo de ediciones internacionales, el evento estrella de CIVICUS se desarrollará en los Balcanes, una región compuesta por once países y hogar de 55 millones de personas. La ciudad anfitriona será Belgrado, una de las más antiguas de Europa con sus 7 000 años historia. En ella se refleja su complejo pasado nacional y regional haciendo de esta urbe un lugar idóneo para explorar la necesidad de unidad y el poder de la acción colectiva.

    «A lo largo de su historia, Serbia ha alternado entre regímenes autoritarios y democracios», indicó Maja Stojanovic de Civic Initiatives.

    «Durante los años noventa se produjeron conflictos, graves violaciones de los derechos humanos y el genocidio. Hoy, a medida que nos acercamos a la adhesión a la Unión Europea, los mecanismos de supervisión independientes nacionales e internacionales muestran una reducción de las libertades de los medios de comunicación, una falta de separación de poderes, el menoscabo del estado de derecho y un deterioro de la libertad de voto», expresó Stojanovic.

    «Esta región, y Serbia en particular, demuestra que el cambio de leyes, estrategias o gobiernos no ofrece garantías: la democracia no existe sin un trabajo de construcción constante. El evento de este año lo celebraremos en Belgrado con el objetivo de reunirnos, de enviar mensajes arraigados en el contexto local y de reflejar plenamente los desafíos mundiales».

    El evento comenzará con una Asamblea de la Juventud de dos días en la ciudad serbia de Novi Sad, Capital Europea de la Juventud 2019 y acogerá a más de cien jóvenes activistas de todo el mundo. Esta asamblea ofrecerá a los delegados la oportunidad de relacionarse con sus pares internacionales, examinar y tomar medidas respecto a algunos de los principales desafíos a los que enfrentan los jóvenes de la sociedad civil en la actualidad.

    Entre los oradores de ediciones pasadas de la ICSW se hallan reconocidos e influyentes pensadores, como los ganadores del Premio Nobel de la Paz Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu y Ali Zeddini; así como los ex primeros ministros de Nueva Zelanda y Grecia, Helen Clark y George Papandreou.



    Para más información, escríbanos a .


    Los organizadores de la ICSW 2019 son CIVICUS y Civic Initiatives (CI).

    CIVICUS es una alianza mundial de organizaciones de la sociedad civil y de activistas dedicados a fortalecer la acción ciudadana y la sociedad civil en todo el mundo. Desde su fundación en 1993, CIVICUS se esfuerza por hacer oír la voz de grupos marginados, en especial la de aquellos pertenecientes al hemisferio sur, y hoy cuenta con miembros en más de 145 países de todo el mundo.

    Civic Initiatives fue fundada en mayo de 1996 por un grupo de destacados activistas pertenecientes a ONG que habían participado en el movimiento contra la guerra y en la oposición democrática no nacionalista desde 1990. Desde entonces, Civic Initiatives ha respondido a la necesidad de crear una base cívica que sostenga los valores democráticos apoyando el activismo ciudadano y abogando por un mejor marco jurídico para la participación cívica.

    Preguntas frecuentes sobre la ICSW 2019

    ¿Qué es la Semana Internacional de la Sociedad Civil 2019?

    La Semana Internacional de la Sociedad Civil (ICSW), que se celebrará del 8 al 12 de abril de 2019, es una reunión mundial clave para que la sociedad civil y otras partes interesadas participen de manera constructiva en la búsqueda de soluciones comunes para los desafíos globales. Por primera vez en más de veinte años de ediciones internacionales, CIVICUS, en asociación con Civic Initiatives (CI), celebrará su evento estrella en la región de los Balcanes.

    ¿Cuáles son los temas clave para 2019?

    El programa de la ICSW 2019 se centrará en tres temas interrelacionados con el fin de que los delegados puedan trabajar juntos para:

    • entender y conectar con los ciudadanos y los movimientos populares que se están produciendo en las calles y en todo el mundo (tema STREETS);
    • construir puentes que fortalezcan alianzas, creen solidaridad y faciliten la acción colectiva en todas las cuestiones (tema BRIDGES);
    • e identificar los pasos necesarios para construir y mantener el impacto colectivo, y conectar los esfuerzos locales a los internacionales (tema STAIRS).

    ¿Quién asistirá?

    Más de setecientos delegados de todo el mundo participarán en la ICSW 2019. Entre ellos figurarán dirigentes de la sociedad civil, activistas, representantes de órganos intergubernamentales, de gobiernos y de los medios de comunicación.

    ¿Por qué se celebra en Serbia?

    Serbia y los Balcanes Occidentales tienen marcos jurídicos sólidos que han de garantizar los derechos básicos de sus ciudadanos. Sin embargo, desde los años noventa los regímenes dictatoriales y la reducción de los derechos básicos han hecho que estas garantías solo lo sean en el papel. De hecho, esa misma década fue testigo de conflictos, de graves violaciones de los derechos humanos y del genocidio. Hoy los mecanismos de supervisión independientes nacionales e internacionales muestran una reducción de las libertades de los medios de comunicación, una falta de separación de poderes, el menoscabo del estado de derecho y un deterioro de la libertad de voto. Decidimos organizar la ICSW 2019 en Serbia con el objetivo de poner en relieve el trabajo de la comunidad de la sociedad civil de los Balcanes para abordar los desafíos actuales a los que se enfrenta la región y para encontrar formas de colaborar y apoyar su trabajo mediante la construcción de alianzas entre la sociedad civil local y la sociedad civil internacional.


  • Sign on! Global Civil Society Declaration on Climate-Induced Migration

    At the conclusion of International Civil Society Week 2017 (ICSW) on December 7th, more than 700 civil society leaders and activists from over 100 countries have called for climate change to be formally recognised as a primary driver of migration. The call comes just days after Donald Trump announced that he is withdrawing the United States from the United Nations Global Compact on Migration. 

    Add Your Voice! Sign on Today

    The Global Civil Society Declaration on Climate Induced Displacement was first presented to delegates of ICSW, held in Suva, Fiji, by global civil society alliance CIVICUS and the Pacific Islands Association of Non Governmental Organisations (PIANGO). This is the first time in more than 20 years of convening that ICSW was held in the Pacific region, where rising sea levels are already displacing communities.
     The declaration calls on the international community to commit to protecting the human rights of all persons, regardless of their migratory status and fulfill the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.  

    “The UN global compact process is a critical opportunity to develop a consensus position on how the  international community should promote rights-based migration and protect refugees,” said Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “We are urging policymakers to protect the rights and dignity of individuals who are being forced to move, and promote the cultural rights of the communities affected,“ Said Sriskandarajah.

    Organisations which have contributed to the declaration include the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, the Pacific Islands Development Forum, Oxfam Pacific, 350.org, ACT Alliance and CIVICUS, among others. 


    Add Your Voice! Sign on Today

    Spread the word

    Share the message on social media:

    .@Pacific_2030, @PIDF01, @oxfampacific, @350, @ACTAlliance, CIVICUS & many others, launch Declaration on Climate Induced Displacement. Read the full declaration and sign on here: http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI

    More than 700 civil society leaders and activists from over 100 countries call for #climatechange to be recognised as a key driver of #migration! Join the call here: http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI #ICSW2017

    I just joined others around the world in signing on to the Climate Declaration! You can too: http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI

    .@CIVICUSSG calls on policymakers to protect the rights & dignity of individuals who are being forced to move, and protect the cultural rights of the communities affected. Join the call http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI 

    Rising seas and extreme weather are leading many to have no option but to abandon their homes! Sign on to the Climate Declaration and call on policy makers to protect climate refugees http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI

    Find out more:
    Check out these stories by journalists and delegates attending ICSW. 

    Al Jazeera: Ex-New Zealand PM: Manus refugees deserve humanity
    Open Democracy: Climate refugees need global protection – with or without the US
    Inter Press News: Migrants Deserve Dignity” says CIVICUS While Trump Pulls out of Proposed Migrant Compact
    Open Democracy: Climate refugees need global protection – with or without the US
    Reuters: Where is the justice?' ask climate 'refugees', sidelined from global deal
    Fiji Times: Call for solidarity on migration
    Radio New Zealand: Climate-induced migration critical issue for Pacific NGOs

    Want to know more about what happened at International Civil Society Week 2017? Visit the live blog archive. 


  • The power of togetherness: standing against the shrinking space for action

    By Laura Brown, Movement and Network Capacity Manager at Womankind Worldwide

    Last week I attended the International Civil Society Week (ICSW) conference in Belgrade hosted by CIVICUS. The conference was an opportunity for civil society organisations to discuss and generate solutions to the most pressing challenges affecting their ability to realise their human rights, sustain democratic values and achieve lasting impact.


  • Veinticinco años después: una mirada a mi viaje con CIVICUS


    por Anabel Cruz, presidenta de la Junta Directiva de CIVICUS 2016-2019

    A principios de 1993, la democracia era aún bastante «joven» en muchas partes del mundo. Apenas habían transcurrido menos de cuatro años desde la caída del Muro de Berlín; el apartheid todavía no se había desmantelado por completo y las primeras elecciones sudafricanas mediante sufragio universal se celebrarían el año siguiente, en 1994. Al mismo tiempo, a principios de los noventa, varios países de América Latina habían dado sus primeros pasos hacia democracias representativas tras más de una década de dictaduras militares.


  • With mentoring and incentives, CSOs venture into raising key resources and support at home


    By Yessenia Soto, Community Engagement Officer on Civil Society Resourcing, CIVICUS

    The Change the Game Academy provides classroom training on local fundraising to CSOs.

    It’s something that many in the development and civil society sector have been painfully aware of for several years now. But the reality is hitting home harder than ever.

    Official Development Assistance (ODA) – government aid designed primarily to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries – is steadily decreasing. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently announced that ODA fell almost 3% from 2017, with even larger reductions for developing countries. As foreign aid has long been a significant source of funding for southern CSOs, this news reminds us that civil society can’t rely on it in the long term, so, those who haven’t started diversifying their resource base, should do it now.

    “There will be an end to foreign funding, at least as we now know it,” said Robert Wiggers, manager of programs and policy development at the Dutch Wilde Ganzen Foundation (WGF), during one of several panels about the financial sustainability of civil society held at the International Civil Society Week convened in Serbia from April 8-12. At ICSW, various organizations shared why and, most importantly, how CSOs can leverage more support, money and other resources in their own countries and communities to face financial pressures and gradually lessen dependence on ODA and other foreign aid.

    “This is more than a funding alternative, highlighted Wiggers. “CSOs that mobilise their own resources locally get closer to their communities and the people they serve, gain independence from donors, have more control of their own development and feel even more empowered to hold their governments accountable.”

    There is a wide consensus about the power of local resources to boost the financial sustainability, legitimacy, ownership and independence of CSOs. Even in a world with endless supplies of international assistance, weaning civil society off it should be the goal. But how can a small community organisation or one that has always relied on foreign aid start fundraising “at home” and on their own?

    Agencies, associations, and foundations like the WGF are providing special training, mentoring sessions, online learning platforms, campaigning support and even dedicated grants to prepare CSOs for this journey. And the results are encouraging.

    For example, the WGF partnered with the Smile Foundation from India, the Kenya Development Foundation and Brazil’s CESE, to create the Change the Game Academy, an innovative blended-learning program specially designed for civil society organisations that provides both online and classroom training on local fundraising, lobby and advocacy to hold governments and duty bearers accountable through civic participation.

    The classroom training is delivered in a total of six months by local certified trainers. It includes individual coaching sessions to implement a fundraising plan and uses materials adapted to country contexts. The online platform contains 11 interactive modules of e-learning available in four languages, plus 40 toolkits and 88 inspiring success stories, all freely accessible and free of charge.  

    More than 800 small NGOs and community based organisations have been trained through the Change the Game Academy in fourteen low- and middle-income countries. They intend to implement this initiative in four more countries this year.

    In the Balkans, there is a similar initiative called the Sustainability Academy, created by the SIGN Network, a group of indigenous grantmakers who support the sustainable development of local communities and civil society. This academy focuses mostly on CSOs at a grassroots level, which have an annual budget of less than 10,000 euros, on average.

    Their training program covers strategic planning, financial sustainability, networking, local fundraising techniques and campaign development, and is delivered in three modules over six months. At the end of the third module, the organisations receive small technical grants to implement their fundraising campaigns for four to six months. When the campaign is over and they meet their goal, the SIGN Network provides 100% matching grants.

    “We have had very successful examples where, through our training and accompaniment, small organisations managed to fundraise even half of their annual budget and developed relationships with many local donors,” said Biljana Dakic, director of the Trag Foundation, a SIGN network member. “And most of them consolidated their causes and work in their communities, which brings invaluable support.”

    Since 2014, the Sustainability Academy has supported over 100 CSOs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro.

    CISU - Civil Society in Development, an association of Danish CSOs with members engaged in development work in Asia, Africa and Latin America, is also providing knowledge, training tools and assistance for local resource mobilisation in these regions. Additionally, they offer a co-funding modality through which the local CSOs can access 4-year grants if they leverage a small percentage of the total grant, explained Souad Bourrid, advisor at CISU.

    Together, these opportunities have been key to reducing the initial resistance and fear that keep some organisations from exploring and testing new resourcing avenues.

    “Many organisations still think that the only way to get funds is applying for donor grants. So, when we approach them about leveraging local support, they are skeptic and don’t believe is possible. But those who receive the training and try it, see how many more doors open to them and end up very thankful for the push,” emphasized Bourrid.

    Besides strengthening skills, many civil society networks and coalitions (including CIVICUS) around the world are also advocating the need to create or improve other crucial conditions for facilitating the mobilisation of domestic resources for civil society, including legal frameworks and incentives for local philanthropy, establishing alliances with the public and private sector, and promoting policies to support the financial sustainability of CSOs.


  • World’s civil society to gather in Balkans to strengthen the “Power of Togetherness”

    • International Civil Society Week (ICSW) 2019 brings together over 850 civil society leaders, activists and concerned citizens across sectors, themes, regions in Belgrade, Serbia (8-12 April) to tackle the world's most pressing challenges in the fields of human rights, democracy and international development.
    • For the  first time in almost a quarter century of convening, the event will be held in the Balkans, a region that provides an opportune place to explore the need for  togetherness and the power of collective action.
    • ICSW presents at least 30 key sessions and partner events tackling a range of critical issues from emergency support for NGOs under attack to shrinking media freedoms to greater civil society accountability

    Belgrade, Serbia –Across the globe, human rights organisations are increasingly being attacked by governments. Activists, journalists and people who speak out against growing restrictions are persecuted. A historic rise of populist leaders continues to erode fundamental freedoms, heightening political polarisation and sowing division.

    We are in the midst of unprecedented global challenges – challenges that civil society and citizens worldwide have begun responding to with renewed determination.

    It is within this context that International Civil Society Week 2019 (ICSW) kicks off next week - a global gathering of over 850 civil society leaders, activists and concerned citizens across sectors, regions and themes taking place April 8-12 in Belgrade, Serbia.  Delegates will share ideas and propose common solutions around some of the most pressing challenges in the fields of human rights, democracy and international development, and explore ways to unlock the power of collective action to stand up for democratic freedoms across the world.

    Co-hosted by the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and Serbian civil society association, Civic Initiatives, with support of the Balkans Civil Society Development Network, ICSW will present a programme that includes over 30 sessions on topics ranging from the crackdown on media freedom to emergency assistance for NGOs under attack to greater civil society accountability, with a variety of partner events as well as key addresses by high-profile speakers. From their alliance of more than 7,000 members in 175 countries and regional presence, CIVICUS and Civic Initiatives have engaged more than 30 organisational partners and a number of high-profile, inspirational speakers to share their experiences and learnings with delegates.

    In country after country, democracy is under attack, with populist and right-wing movements gaining ground and democratic regression being witnessed even in countries historically considered bastions of democracy.

    According to the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in all countries, only 4% of the world’s population live in places where their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are properly respected and protected.

    “Yet, civil society is fighting back, finding new and innovative way of organising and taking action. We are seeing new alliances being forged and an increasing openness to coalition building - with activists from different causes and communities coming together to fight for common issues,” said Lysa John, CIVICUS Secretary General.

    “This year’s event in Serbia comes at a critical and opportune time for civil society and the world’s citizens to realise the power of unified, collective action to challenge a global trend that threatens our fundamental freedoms,” said John.

    This year’s theme – ‘The Power of Togetherness’ –  explores how people and organisations around the world can, and are, working together to enable and defend spaces for civic action in a world where global transformations are reshaping how civil society functions.

    For the first time in almost a quarter century of international convening, CIVICUS will host its flagship event in the Balkans – a region of 11 countries and 55 million people. The host city, Belgrade, is one of Europe’s oldest, with a 7,000-year history representing a complex Serbian history and regional experience that provides an opportune place to explore the need for togetherness and the power of collective action.

    “Throughout its history, Serbia has shifted back and forth between authoritarian regimes  and democracy,” said Civic Initiatives’ Maja Stojanovic.

    “During the 1990s, authoritarian regimes produced conflicts, severe human rights violations and genocide. Today, as we approach European Union membership, internal and international independent monitoring mechanisms show shrinking media freedoms, a lack of separation of power and rule of law, and deterioration of freedom of elections,” said Stojanovic.

    “This region, and particularly Serbia, demonstrates that changing laws, strategies or governments offers no guarantees – democracy does not exist if it is not built constantly. By hosting this year’s event in Belgrade, we will convene and send messages rooted in local circumstances and, in the same time, fully reflecting global challenges.”

    The event will begin with a two-day Youth Assembly in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, which has been  selected as the European Youth Capital for 2019. Bringing together more than 100 young activists
    from across the globe, the Assembly will offer delegates the opportunity to engage with international peers, examining and taking action on some of the critical challenges facing youth in civil society today.



    For more information, please contact:


    The conveners of ICSW 2019 are CIVICUS and Civic Initiatives (CI).

    CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world.  Founded in 1993, CIVICUS strives to promote marginalised voices, especially from the Global South, and has members in more than 145 countries throughout the world.

    Civic Initiatives (CI) was founded in May 1996 by a group of prominent NGO activists that were involved in the anti-war movement and non-nationalist democratic opposition since 1990. Since then, Civic Initiatives respond to the need to create a civic base that sustains democratic values by supporting citizens' activism and advocating for better legal framework for civic participation.


    More information is available on the  virtual press centre. Find out what’s happening in real-time on the ICSW Live platform, a hub that links delegates with global civil society, with  audio/ video interviews, and interactive features. You can also join the conversation on social media #ICSW2019, and get daily updates/ live streams of various sessions on CIVICUS and Civic Initiatives social media channels: CIVICUS Facebook and Civic Initiatives Facebook.

    FAQs ABOUT ICSW 2019

    What is International Civil Society Week 2019?

    International Civil Society Week (ICSW), being hosted from April 8-12, 2019, is a key global gathering for civil society and other stakeholders to engage constructively in finding common solutions to global challenges. For the first time in more than 20 years of international convening, CIVICUS in partnership with Civic Initiatives (CI), will hold its flagship event in the Balkans region.

    What are our key themes for 2019?

    The ICSW 2019 programme will be centred along three interrelated tracks, to enable delegates to work together to:

    • Understand and connect with citizens and people’s movements taking place on the STREETSand around the world
    • Build BRIDGES that strengthen alliances, create solidarity and facilitate collective action across issues
    • Identify the STAIRS needed to build and sustain collective impact, and connect local and global efforts

    Who will be attending?

    Over 850 delegates from across the world will be part of ICSW 2019. These will include civil society leaders, activists, representatives from intergovernmental bodies,, governments, and the media.

    Why Serbia?

    Serbia and the Western Balkans have strong legal frameworks which are supposed to guarantee the basic rights of citizens. Yet, since the nineties, dictatorial regimes and shrinking basic rights have made these so called guarantees largely paper based, with conflicts, severe human rights violations and genocide  happening in practice. Today, internal and international independent monitoring mechanisms show shrinking media freedoms, lack of separation of power and rule of law, and deterioration of freedom of elections. By hosting ICSW 2019 in Serbia, we aim to shine a spotlight on the work of the Balkan civil society community to address the ongoing challenges in the region and find ways to collaborate and support their work by building alliances between local and international civil society.