The annual State of Civil Society Report analyses how contemporary events and trends are impacting on civil society, and how civil society is responding to the major issues and challenges of the day. This is the eighth edition of our report, focusing on actions and trends in 2018. This report is of, from and for civil society, drawing on over 50 interviews and guest articles from civil society activists, leaders and experts, as well as CIVICUS’ ongoing programme of research, analysis and advocacy. In particular, it presents findings from the CIVICUS Monitor, our online platform tracking conditions for civil society in 196 countries.

2018 was another year of immense contestation for fundamental rights. On the one side stood  rising right-wing populists, authoritarian presidents, large corporations with few scruples and anti-rights groups. Yet, on the other side, progressive, rights-oriented civil society and citizens bravely stepped forward to demand the voice they were denied.The report identifies key trends that impacted on civil society in 2018 and are continuing in 2019, including:

  • A sustained assault on humanitarian response
  • Attacks on the civic space of excluded groups
  • Right-wing populism and the need for a new narrative
  • Powerful protests on everyday issues
  • Failing economics and the need for economic democracy
  • Weakening multilateralism: the international system under pressure
  • Flawed and fake elections
  • The growing power of anti-rights groups
  • Agency and action: civil society successes in 2018


Year in Review

Part 1

Everyday issues bring people to the streets

Part 2

Challenging exclusion and claiming rights

Part 3

The state of democracy in 2018

Part 4

Civil society at the international level

State of Civil Society in Your Country

Close to real-time data and empirical evidence on the state of civil society in 195 countries. CIVICUS Monitor provides overview and rating of civic space at the national and regional level. See how civic rights are being protected or violated in your country.