Photo: Ahamed Al-Basha/AFP/Getty Images

Broadening Domestic Constituencies

Exploring issues and making recommendations to build and diversify domestic support for the work of human rights and social justice actors

Civil society is rendered more vulnerable to government’s efforts to curtail their work because of a lack of strong links to national and local constituencies. By extension, many analysts believe that if civil society is able to build and forge these links, the sector would become more resilient to government efforts to close space. Yet others caution that the work of human rights and social justice is, almost by definition, too “controversial,” “political,” and “dangerous” to garner broad public support. iCon members will explore the hypothesis that closing space is facilitated in some places by a lack of connectivity, legitimacy, and relevance of human rights and social justice advocacy organizations to the larger population. They will examine different strategies for broadening and deepening public support for these organizations, including by using data to better ground civil society’s work with local populations.

Research Questions

  • How can CSOs better use survey data, social marketing techniques, as well as traditional and social media to build constituencies and public support?
  • What challenges exist for greater use of survey data by civil society, especially in highly restricted/closed political environments? How can these obstacles be addressed?
  • How can adopting different methodologies – providing legal services while also doing advocacy work, or adapting mandates to engage on issues that are of particular concern to local communities, for example – help build linkages between CSOs and the populations they serve?