Accountability for civil society by civil society: A Guide to Self-Regulation Initiatives

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CSRI Final cover

CIVICUS is proud to announce the publication of its guide to help civil society organisations’ regulate their practices and operations with respect to a variety of governance issues.

The CIVICUS Self-Regulation Guide, a new addition to our Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability (LTA) programme, is the result of research conducted by CIVICUS and its members and partners. It features more than 20 case studies from around the world, lessons learnt, innovations and practical advice.

The guide is available in English, French and Spanish.

 

Enabling environment of Civil Society in Myanmar (Burma)

As part of CIVICUS’ work to promote and protect the enabling environment for civil society in the Asia-Pacific region, CIVICUS provided Carine Jaquet from the Research Institute on Contemporary South-East Asia (IRASEC) with technical and financial support to conduct research on the changing environment for civil society in Myanmar.

Civil society in Myanmar was virtually non-existent in the late 1990s due to the tight political control exercised by the military juntas from 1962 to 2010. It gradually re-emerged in the early 2000s and made exponential progress following the large-scale response to the devastation caused by the Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Since then, the installation of a new, quasi-civilian, government in November 2010, led to a more favourable environment for civil society organisations (CSOs) to operate. As a result of rapid political changes, Myanmar civil society has been expanding and exploring new issues. 

Jaquet’s report highlights that civil society has been able to benefit from expanding space, thanks mostly to political changes at the highest levels of government. This enabled - still incomplete - regulatory and legal reform, leading to noticeable increases in freedom of expression, association and assembly. Issues, once considered taboo, can increasingly be discussed by CSOs. Nonetheless, some significant restrictions remain that hinder civic space. The post-2010 reforms are based on a top-down centralised democratisation process, leaving many remote and marginalised groups – mainly ethnic minorities – behind. In spite of some noticeable improvement in local governance, state representatives at the lowest levels often continue to operate as they did under the former junta. However, some issues are still taboo, especially those related to government and private sector control of resources. The recent advances in freedom of expression need to be supported to promote a better understanding of minority-related issues and to avoid fuelling conflict in a still fragile political transition process.

The full report is accessible here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GLOBAL TRENDS ON CIVIL SOCIETY RESTRICTIONS: THE GAP BETWEEN RHETORIC AND REALITY

GlobalTrendsonCivilSocietyRestrictonsCover400A report by CIVICUS, reveals a pattern of sustained attacks on civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world.

CIVICUS has tracked 413 threats to civil society in 87 countries since the beginning of 2012. Worryingly the report shows that several governments are attempting to weaken civil society organisations by enacting laws which prevent them from accessing the funding they need to survive and prevent them from conducting legitimate activities involving expressions of democratic dissent.

“We are hugely concerned about the killings of land rights and environmental activists in Latin America and Southeast Asia due to collusion between politicians and big businesses. Equally, defenders of rights of women and the gay community are facing severe threats in the Middle East and Africa respectively,” said Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS Secretary-General.

 

Report from CIVICUS and RESOCIDE Regional Workshop on Enhancing the Capacity of Human Rights Defenders to Monitor Public Policy and Respond to Threats in West Africa, Burkina Faso

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and RESOCIDE jointly organised a workshop on enhancing the capacity of human rights defenders to respond to threats in West Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from 2 to 3 July 2012. The workshop which brought together participants from Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and the USA, aimed at identifying specific threats faced by civil society and human rights activists in West Africa and creating a network to facilitate timely and proactive responses to these threats. At the close of the meeting, particpants agreed to create a West African Network for human rights defenders which they named Africa Rights Defenders. The meeting was made possible by the financial support of Irish Aid.

At the start of the workshop, participants presented country experiences on human rights issues. It was clear that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and human rights defenders continue to work in restricted spaces despite improved legal frameworks for democratic governance and different levels of political transitions experienced by countries in the region. Even though the constitutions of most West African countries make provisions for the respect and protection of human rights, and countries are signatories to or have ratified several regional and international human rights conventions, governments often lack the will to implement these commitments.

Most country experiences indicate that human rights defenders, journalists and civil society activists are often victims of physical assaults, kidnappings, enforced disappearances, torture, judicial harassments and pre-trial detentions. Family members of and lawyers for activists are regularly threatened while some human rights defenders have been assassinated in the line of duty. In Senegal for example, close to 20 activists died in prison during the tenure of the former president while citizens and human rights defenders were attacked, harassed and tortured as they led protests against attempts by the president to amend the constitution to extend his stay in office.

 

Broadening civic space through voluntary action: Lessons from 2011

civicus_volunteer_reportVoluntary citizen participation is an essential part of civil society, which in turn is a key contributor to sustainable development, human rights, good governance and social justice. 2011, the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, saw an upsurge of such action in different forms in many countries around the world.

Looking back on 2011, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and United Nations Volunteers have combined to analyse contemporary trends in voluntary action and make recommendations for policy-makers, civil society, and volunteer involving organisations, in our new publication, Broadening Civic Space through Voluntary Action.

 

Reporting Human Rights Violations to UN Special Procedures

Under the auspices of the project Strengthening Civil Society Engagement with the United Nations: Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, CIVICUS engaged two activists and two regional specialists in learning exchanges with CIVICUS’ Geneva Office from November-December 2011. Participants conducted outreach with civil society in the region to encourage interfacing with United Nations Special Procedures and produced reports to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.  In addition, participants produced and disseminated a bi-lingual guide on how civil society can interface with UN Special Procedures.  CIVICUS members and partners can download Reporting Human Rights Violations to UN Special Procedures: An Introductory Guide in English and Russian.

 

Civil society volunteering patterns in Africa

An analysis of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index 2008-2011 findings on volunteerism

The recently completed 2008-2011 CIVICUS Civil Society Index, a comprehensive analysis of civil society in 35 countries, offers an opportunity to assess the health of people’s participation and activism. The level of volunteering is one key indicator of the state and level of participation in a society.

Looking specifically at voluntary action and trends in nine African countries – Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia - the CSI findings present a picture of volunteering that is shaped by cultural, historical, socio-economic and political dynamics. Even though Africa is not a homogeneous entity, across countries and cultures, patterns of volunteering are quite similar. With limited documentation to date specifically on volunteer trends in Africa, these findings have brought to light the value of volunteering in building social capital, its potential to encourage civic activism, and the heavy reliance of organised civil society on voluntary work.

Civil society volunteering patterns in Africa

 

Cutting the Diamonds: Civil Society Index 2008-2011

This report provides the first description of the quantitative data from the second implementation phase (2008 to 2011) of CIVICUS' Civil Society Index, bringing together the information from a set of 25 countries for which the data was finalised at the time of writing. This presentation of the data intends to invite an interested audience of academics and practitioners alike to work further with the data in order to deepen the understanding of civil society around the world and thus to enhance the potential forcitizens’ participation for positive social change.

Download the report

 

Bridging the Gaps - Citizens organisations and dissociation

Download summary reports (English) (French) (Spanish)

Bridging the gaps: Citizens, Organisations and Dissociation

Click here to download (PDF, 3.6MB)

 

Civil Society Organisations in Situations of Conflict

This new Civil Society Organisation in Situations of Conflict report authored by CIVICUS in partnership with the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness summarises working conditions in more than 46 countries worldwide. It illustrates the specific dynamics, needs and challenges of CSOs working in situations of conflict and analyses how governments, international community and donors can ensure their policies adequately empower citizens and CSOs in all stages of peace building and development.

At the time of writing, more than thirty countries were embroiled in violent conflict. At this time of increasing violence, creating situations of instability and fragility, freedoms and the fulfillment of political, social and economic rights are not protected. Development actors and citizens face significant challenges not only to their effectiveness, but also to their safety, sustainability and livelihoods.

Download a free copy here (PDF)

 

Torture and Arbitrary Detention in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

This 40-page report is a compilation of personal narratives and analysis presented as a briefing to United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights. It identifies torture as a common practice in the Turkmen and Uzbek penal systems used to interrogate, punish alleged criminals of all varieties, silence perceived and actual dissent, or for no apparent reason. Long administrative detentions, medical malpractice, and other illegal activities often occur in conjunction with abuse.

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Report on the challenges faced by women in civil society in Africa

In this report, CIVICUS reviews the status of women in civil society in Africa. The report lists key concerns and challenges for women human rights defenders on the continent. It calls upon African governments, regional bodies, the international community and civil society to act in earnest to protect these women. The report's conclusion argues that while advancements have been made in acknowledging the role and rights of women in recent years, there remain deeply rooted cultural, religious and patriarchal perceptions that continue to inhibit the work of women human rights defenders across the continent.

 

The Results of a Survey to Assess Practitioners' Priority Needs and Preferences

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The Role of Civil Society Organisations in Promoting Social Justice and Sound Development Polices in SADC: A case study of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Accountability Project surveys in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe were carried out by three researchers from each country. This report draws heavily from these country studies to provide a synthesis of the salient issues applicable to and prevailing in Southern African countries. In addition, the report also provides a comparative analysis of the main issues across countries in order to come up with clear conclusions and recommendations for the benefit of CSO-State relations.

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CIVICUS PG Practitioners' Brainstorming Workshop Report

This report serves as a summary of the main discussions and outcomes of the Strategies for Promoting Participatory Governance: A Multi-Stakeholder Brainstorming Workshop, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland from 22-23 June 2007. The brainstorming workshop marked the launch of a new phase of the CIVICUS Participatory Governance Programme, which focuses on enhancing the capacity of southern civil society practitioners to promote participatory and accountable governance of public institutions at local and national levels.

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A Report on Lessons Learnt from Regional-level Skills Development, Innovation Grant and Networking Activities (2008-2009)

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CIVICUS Participatory Governance Programme: External Evaluation Report

CIVICUS commissioned an end of funding phase evaluation for its Participatory Governance (PG) Programme which took place from November 2009 through January 2010. The overall goal of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of the programme in terms of its objectives. The specific objectives were to; (i) establish the extent to which the programme has achieved its stated objectives, (ii) identify the key challenges and constraints faced in the programme and how these were or were not addressed, and (iii) identify lessons learnt and recommendations for future phases of the programme.

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Turning principles into practice: A guide to legitimacy, transparency and accountability

CIVICUS has developed several initiatives to equip CSOs to move from legitimacy, accountability and transparency (LTA) principles to practices in their organisations and networks. Besides this resource centre which spots LTA resources from a myriad civil society institutions from all over the world, the CIVICUS LTA team has put together a guideline to assist CSOs implement LTA.

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The Compendium of International Legal Instruments and Other Intergovernmental Commitments Concerning Core Civil Society Rights

The compendium is an important reference document for advocacy groups while framing their demands for the protection and expansion of civil society space. Other tools and resources for civil society activists can be accessed here. This version was updated in January 2014.

Download The Compendium of International Legal Instruments and Other Intergovernmental Commitments Concerning Core Civil Society Rights

 

 

The Role of Civil Society Organisations in Achieving Participatory Democracy and Reconciliation

This paper is based on a presentation by CIVICUS CSI staff member, Mahi Khallaf, at the International Symposium in Cyprus, 25-26 February 2005.

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The Civil Society Diamond: A Primer

This report reviews the methodology for the Civil Society Diamond.

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Taking the Pulse of Civil Society Worldwide: Insights from the CIVICUS Civil Society Index Project (2003-2007)

A paper presented at the 8th conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain, 9-12 July 2008.

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Summary of CSI Methodology and Conceptual Framework

This document presents a brief summary of the main features of the CSI's conceptual framework and methodological approach.

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Sharing Lessons and Comparing the State of Civil Society in Post Communist Europe

This is a post-workshop paper, based on the discussions that took place at the CIVICUS Civil Society Index Regional Workshop in the Czech Republic from 5-7 April 2006.

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Improving the Understanding and Strength of Civil Society

A briefing paper on the contribution of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index to civil society strengthening programmes worldwide.

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Índice de la Sociedad Civil: Herramienta para el Fortalecimiento de la Sociedad Civil en América Latina

Una descripción del Índice de la Sociedad Civil (ISC) CIVICUS en el contexto de América Latina.

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How Civil Society Influences Policy: A Comparative Analysis of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index in Post-Communist Europe

This working paper, a collaboration between CIVICUS and ODI, presents an analysis of the policy-relevant findings of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index in a group of countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Ukraine.

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Handbook on how to use the Index as a self-assessment tool

This is a handbook on how to use the Index as a self-assessment tool for civil society practitioners. This handbook, written by Richard Holloway in 2001, provides in-depth guidance on applying the Index project's tools to diagnose the health of civil society in your community, region or sector.

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From Impossibility to Reality

A reflection and position paper on the CSI Pilot Phase by Volkhart Finn Heinrich and Kumi Naidoo.

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External Impact Assessment of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index between 2003 to 2006 – Full Report

External Impact Assessment of the CSI Programme (Phase 2003 – 2006) carried out by Skat, a consulting firm from Switzerland, from October to December 2009 (January, 2010).

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Evaluation report on the CSI pilot phase

Read the executive summary of the independent CSI evaluation report by the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organisations, Harvard University.

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Civil Society – Measurement, Evaluation, Policy

This book provides a comprehensive and flexible framework for the definition, measurement, analysis and interpretation of civil society based on the innovative 'Civil Society Diamond'.

Available for purchase.

 

CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Preliminary Findings Phase 2003-2005

The CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) Project held the International CSI Workshop from 19 to 21 June 2006 in Glasgow, Scotland. The ICSI Workshop provided a forum for the CSI project partners and selected stakeholders to identify and discuss key findings of the CSI and to evaluate the CSI project phase 2003-2006. A pre-workshop paper was produced on the preliminary results of the CSI.

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CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide

This report provides a detailed account of the project approach, conceptual and analytical framework and research methodology of the innovative CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) Project.

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Building knowledge about civil society

This article appeared in CIVICUS World, the January-February 2001 Edition.

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Assessing Civil Society in Cyprus and Across the World - The CIVICUS Civil Society Index

This report was presented at the International Symposium in Cyprus, 25-26 February 2005.

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Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide - An updated programme description of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Phase 2008 to 2010

The report provides the full programme description, implementation process and analytical framework of the Civil Society Index of Phase 2 (2008-2010).

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Analysing threats to civil society around the world

This report reviews CSI country data from 2003-2007 to analyse threats to civil society around the world.

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Civil society: The clamp-down is real

The last decade, and especially 2009 and 2010, have been particularly hard for civil society and human rights defenders. Negative global trends that began soon after 9/11 have come to a head as governments have continued to encroach on fundamental freedoms. CIVICUS has put together a synthesis report highlighting these trends.

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