Responding to Closing Civic Space: Recent Experiences from Three Global Initiatives
The global phenomenon of closing civic space is no longer new. How best to respond to this decade-long trend as governments increasingly restrict space for civil society activities? This question is continuously debated among activists, academics and professionals in the field. The restriction of civic space comes in many forms, ranging from ad hoc intimidation and harassment of civic activists to growing legal restrictions that make it difficult or impossible for civil society organizations (CSOs) to receive funding and carry out activities. Governments and non-governmental actors have pushed back against these restrictive measures in various ways, with varying degrees of success. This report captures some of their recent learning experiences by examining in particular the approaches of cross-border initiatives that are led by civil society organizations and operate globally, in order to make this knowledge available to other initiatives struggling to reclaim spaces.
The CSIS International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon) published “An Overview of Global Initiatives on Countering Closing Civic Space for Civil Society” in 2017. This report mapped several initiatives that emerged in response to the global phenomenon of closing civic space, striving to keep this space open or increase it. The report focused on approaches including advocacy on the international level, awareness-raising activities, peer-to-peer learning platforms, and technical assistance to civil society actors on the ground.
Fabian Hetz (M.A.) is guest researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF). Dr. Annika Elena Poppe is project director and senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF).
This report was made possible by the generous support of the Oak Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.