Who We Are
CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.
We were established in 1993 and since 2002 have been proudly headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional hubs across the globe. We are a membership alliance with more than 4,000 members in more than 175 countries.
Our definition of civil society is broad and covers non-governmental organisations, activists, civil society coalitions and networks, protest and social movements, voluntary bodies, campaigning organisations, charities, faith-based groups, trade unions and philanthropic foundations. Our membership is diverse, spanning a wide range of issues, sizes and organisation types.
Our Unique Contribution to Change
At CIVICUS, our identity is informed by:
- Our diverse global membership, with a strong presence in the global south.
- Our clear mandate to defend civic space and promote civil society.
- Our focus on strengthening citizen action and civil society writ large, working across issues, geographies and organisation types.
- Our role as a trusted convener and thought leader on civil society issues and trends.
- Our ability to amplify civil society voices and enable activists and organisations to speak truth to power.
- Our commitment to standing in solidarity with actors across civil society.
- Our capacity to incubate and support ambitious strategies and initiatives to improve civil society’s
- effectiveness and inclusivity.
Our work at CIVICUS is guided by these values and principles:
- We believe in justice and dignity for all, while putting the most excluded first.
- We believe that people and their organisations, working together, can change
- the world.
- We stand for a strong, independent and progressive civil society.
- We challenge power with principled courage.
- We are champions of accountability, diversity and inclusion.
- We are committed to global solidarity and believe in building from below and beyond borders.
- We seek systems change to tackle the universal and inter-related nature of the world’s most pressing challenges.
What we do
As outlined in CIVICUS’ Strategic Plan 2017-2022 , we work to strengthen citizen action and civil society toward a more just, inclusive and sustainable. Our work is guided by our three strategic goals, which reflect our belief that people-powered and collective action is at the centre of transformative change.
- Defending civic freedoms and democratic values.
We defend the fundamental civic freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression in all countries, particularly when they are under threat. We do this by providing activists with emergency and sustained support; tracking civic space trends globally; incubating and sharing new ways to counter threats to civic space. We work to ensure that civic freedoms and civil society rights get the attention they deserve on national, regional and global agendas, and that people have the opportunities and tools for full, effective and creative participation in the decision-making processes that affect them.
- Strengthening the power of people to organise, mobilise and take action.
We work in solidarity with change-seeking activists, organisations and movements on inequality, injustice, insecurity and climate change. We connect local actors with global agendas by bringing local voices to global fora, and support people and their organisations to monitor progress and hold governments accountable for their national and international commitments, such as international human rights frameworks, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. We also facilitate citizens and civil society to influence global governance reform processes, demand spaces for citizens to advise decision makers, and push new and reforming international organisations to put people and their needs at the centre.
- Empowering a more accountable, effective and innovative civil society.
We work to empower civil society to become more accountable, effective and innovative agents of change by encouraging collaboration, engagement, and shared learning among our diverse alliance members and partners. We advocate for institutional architecture that supports and sustains civil society, including coalitions, umbrella bodies and networks. Our strategic plan for the upcoming 5 years commits us to experiment with, learn from and share innovative strategies and technologies that position civil society at the forefront of change. This includes exploring new funding and operational models that shift more resources to the advocacy, accountability and human rights work of civil society actors in the global south who are often on the frontline of social transformation.
How we make a difference:
Drawing on over 20 years of experience, we are working to build on our strengths while also exploring new ways of working. Given the nature and extent of the challenges facing humanity, it is our responsibility to take bold and brave action, and to strengthen citizen action and civil society by:
- Building solidarity among civil society across borders and at scale
- Supporting civil society to connect with others
- Producing timely and world-class knowledge and analysis
- Advocating for open spaces and systemic change
- Amplifying voices of those usually not included
- Promoting resourcing of diverse and resilient civil society
- Innovating and incubate bold initiatives
- Promote, model and disseminate civil society best practice