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Defending civic space during and after the pandemic

May 27, 2021
Guest post by Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Multiple studies of the effects of the pandemic on civil society, including a major IDS report released last week, paint a discouraging picture. Civil society has come under assault from many directions at once, including executive overreach, securitisation of public life, the constriction of online freedoms, sharpened social divisions, and
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Civic Freedoms and The Covid-19 Pandemic: A Snapshot of Restrictions and Attacks

October 14, 2020
Civicus, the international network of Civil Society Organizations, has just put out a brief on the impact of the pandemic on protest and activism around the world. Some highlights (my summary in square brackets) [Civic activism hasn’t entirely stopped, but it has moved from mass mobilization to a greater emphasis on symbolism and imagination] ‘2019 was a historic year for
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What is behind the Global Crackdown on Civil Society? In Conversation with Dom Perera and Tonu Basu

December 13, 2019
Last week I went along to the launch of  People Power Under Attack 2019, the latest output of the Civicus Monitor project on the state of civil society organizations around the world. Afterwards, I picked the brains of two of the speakers, Dom Perera of Civicus, and Tonu Basu of Open Government Partnership. Here are a few of their insights
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Doing better on defending civic space

November 6, 2019
In a new Carnegie Endowment paper, “Defending Civic Space: Is The International Community Stuck?”, Saskia Brechenmacher and Thomas Carothers take stock of and argue for bolstering transnational efforts to push back against the global trend of closing space for civil society. During the past five years, the international aid community has woken up to the disturbing global trend of governments

Closing Civic Space: Trends, Drivers and what Donors can do about it

February 14, 2019
My reading pile is out of control, but I finally caught up with a useful May 2018 overview from the always excellent International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. Nothing life-changing, but a clear and concise summary of the origins of the problem and possible responses, based on some 50 contributions to a consultation by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

What is civil society for? Reflection from one of Tanzania’s leading CSO thinkers

November 1, 2018
A recent civil society and government jamboree in Tanzania prompted some interesting reflections from Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director of Twaweza. Who needs civil society organizations (CSOs)? If government does its job well, responding to citizens’ needs, delivering good quality services, safe communities and a booming economy, then what is the purpose of the diverse range of NGOs, trade unions, religious groups,

Here’s what we know about closing civic space – what other research would you suggest?

September 18, 2018
I head off to the Institute of Development Studies today to take stock on our joint ‘Action for Empowerment and Accountability’ research programme. One of the main discussions will be on a research agenda on ‘closing civic space’, so this blog sets out what we know of the research to date, and asks you for further suggestions. The best place

How can Civil Society respond to government crackdowns around the world? New Oxfam paper (and hello to Oxfam GB’s new boss)

September 12, 2018
Oxfam GB announced yesterday that Danny Sriskandarajah (right) will be its new boss. V exciting, and not just because he’s a mate. He comes to us from Civicus, the global alliance of civil society organizations. Here he is writing on this blog last year on the role of INGOs, if any, in defending civil society space. This is gonna be fun.