Polish Civil Society

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Adapting to New Pressures

Amidst democratic backsliding globally, Poland has experienced a retreat from tolerance, inclusion, transparency, and government accountability. During interviews with some twenty individuals and groups in government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academic institutions, significant concerns about the future of Poland’s democratic institutions were expressed. In particular, respondents cited issues regarding the independence of the judiciary, a lack of tolerance by the ruling party as reflected in perceived xenophobic and discriminatory language, a growing deficit in transparency, and a lack of inclusion with respect to political processes. Finally, interviewees noted the government’s increasingly centralized control and perceived politicization of funding for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), especially with respect to traditional human rights CSOs. This report provides recommendations to CSOs, donors, the U.S. government, and Europe on how to help build the capacity of civil society, be that through new business models, funding streams, or fostering global and regional networks.

Barbara Smith is a senior associate (non-resident) with the Human Rights Initiative at CSIS.

This report was made possible by the generous support of the Oak Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Barbara Smith
Senior Associate (Non-resident), Human Rights Initiative