According to new findings from the CIVICUS Monitor, just three percent of people live in countries where space for civic activism - or civic space- is truly open. The first ever analysis of civic space covering all UN Member States shows people in 106 countries face serious threats when organising, speaking out and taking peaceful action to improve their societies. These rights are guaranteed by most national constitutions and enshrined in international law.
Photo Credit: © Georgina Goodwin
The Enabling Environment National Assessment (EENA) is an action-oriented research tool designed to assess the legal, regulatoryand policy environment for civil society. The EENAs are designed to be locally-owned, rooted in primary data collected at the grassroots level, and validated by a consensus based, multi-stakeholder process with the dual purpose of strengthening the capacity of civil society to advocate for an enabling environment and improving CSO-government relations.
The research tool was designed by CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the International Center for Non-for-Profit Law (ICNL) under the Civic Space Initiative. Between 2013 and 2016 it has been implemented in 22 countries worldwide. The EENA is part of the Civic Space Initiative, implemented by CIVICUS in partnership with the ARTICLE19, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), and the World Movement for Democracy, with support from the Government of Sweden.
The office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur has put out its annual report on the freedom of assembly and association worldwide. Detailing the tumultuous year, the report discusses closing spaces for civic engagement and retaliation against human rights defenders. People fundamentally need to engage in their societies, and they will continue to do that no matter what the cost – even if it means risking their safety, their liberty or even their lives.
The report also details places in which progress was palpable, illustrating just how powerful assembly and association rights can be in motivating change – and why people fight so hard to exercise these rights. Massive protests led to the ousting or impeachment of national leaders in Brazil, Iceland and South Korea. They also forced the governments of Turkey and Poland to withdraw regressive legislation on child sexual assault and abortion, respectively.
These stories and more are summarized in this report, Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai’s third and final “yearbook” of assembly and association rights – a year-end summary of the major developments of 2016, including important news events and the key activities of his mandate.
All over the world there is an evident growing backlash against activists and campaigners who ask for a fair use of their countries’ natural resources. In 2015 alone 185 activists fighting to protect the environment and for transparency in oil, gas and mining, have been killed, including the high profile death of Berta Cáceres in Honduras.
These activists are harassed, threatened, arrested and even killed for standing up for the rights of their fellow citizens. This is only getting worse. Women and indigenous peoples are especially at risk as they are already often economically and politically disenfranchised.
The report contains a series of case studies illustrating the different types of threats, from restrictive legislation, criminalisation, unwarranted surveillance to smear campaigns, tight control of public space and violence.
The purpose of this handbook is to provide the 57 OSCE participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation with a reference guide on available legal tools, the latest legislative and policy trends, and pertinent measures and practices to prevent and suppress corruption. It is aimed at raising awareness of the range of international instruments available to national policymakers and anti-corruption practitioners, and assisting them in developing and implementing effective anti-corruption policies and measures, thereby reducing the possibilities for corruption, instability and transnational crime. The handbook is produced by the OSCE in collaboration with UNODC, OECD and GRECO and other partners.
This issue of Global Trends examines key events at the regional and international levels that impacted the enabling environment for civil society during 2015-16. It also includes a brief look at some of the successes achieved by civil society during the same period. Finally, this report examines the primary ways in which civic space continues to be narrowed in many countries around the world.
As the 2016 Annual Report documents, at least 156 human rights defenders were killed or died in detention in 2015. More than half of those killings, 87, took place in Latin America, with Colombia alone accounting for 54 killings. Outside the Americas one of the starkest figures was the total of 31 targeted killings of HRDs in the Philippines.
‘Breaking the Silence and Unlocking Barriers for Human Rights Protection in ASEAN’ is the sixth annual review of the performance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) human rights mechanisms produced by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and the Solidarity for ASEAN People’s Advocacies – Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA TFAHR).
This report reviews both the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), on how they have implemented activities in relation to their mandates, their engagement with civil society organisations (CSOs), achievements and shortcomings. It shares general expectations from CSOs and other stakeholders in their engagement with the AICHR and the ACWC. The report concludes with key findings of the assessment and proposes recommendations for improvement to the AICHR, the ACWC and the ASEAN overall.
Global Witness released a report, Find the Facts Expose the Story Change the System, that focuses on the world's worst environmental and human rights abuses that are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global.
Combating Corruption in Closing Spaces: Implications for Governance Panel Discussions
Lifeline Consortium partners Freedom House and ICNL coordinated a panel at the World Bank Annual Meeting, joined by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch, to highlight the suppression of journalists and civil society organizations (CSO) combating corruption and advocating for transparency and good governance. It discussed how the World Bank’s mission and the new Sustainable Development Goals can be leveraged to keep the space for civil society and media from closing further.
Useful information on this subject is also available from The Coalition for Human Rights in Development http://rightsindevelopment.org/
Videos from the panel are below:
Dr. Robert Herman - Vice President for Emergency Assistance Programs and Multilateral Initiatives - Freedom House
Jessica Evans - Senior Researcher/Advocate for International Financial Institutions – Human Rights Watch (Overview)
Dr. Courtney Radsch - Advocacy Director - Committee to Protect Journalists
Yoseph Badwaza- Sub-saharan Africa Program Officer - Freedom House - (Formerly Secretary General of Ethiopian Human Rights Council)
Dr. Claudia Escobar Currently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow - National Endowment for Democracy - Judge in the Guatemalan Judicial System
Irene Petras - Legal Advisor-Africa - The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (Formerly of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights)
From July 11 to July 27, Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association made an official visit to the United States. During his mission, the Special Rapporteur visited ten cities, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Ferguson, Phoenix, New Orleans, Jackson, and Baton Rouge.
A recent policy action brief from CIVICUS details the ongoing political repression in Burundi and the potential for the conflict to escalate even further. As Pierre Nkurunziza continues to target representatives of civil society and crack down on suspected members of the political opposition, the country risks a return to the level of violence and human rights violations suffered during Burundi's civil war. In the brief, CIVICUS provides concrete recommendations and action points for all involved actors, including the international community, armed opposition groups, the government of Burundi, and civil society groups.
CIVICUS has released its 2016 State of Civil Society report, detailing the key events, issues, and trends affecting civil society around the world. This year's report's theme explores the issue of exclusivity and its impact on civil society activists.
The report draws on contributions from over 30 civil society experts and includes investigative work from CIVICUS staff who conducted their research in partnership with hundreds of activists on the ground.
ICNL published their 2014-2015 Annual Report regarding their work on protecting civic space globally.
Protection International releases Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders report.
"The report illustrates the interplay among legal instruments, socio-political contexts, practices by state authorities and non-state actors, which altogether ultimately contribute to stigmatise, delegitimise and criminalise HRDs. Counter-measures that may be adopted to combat criminalisation are also discussed in the report together with a number of concrete recommendations to HRDs, State authorities and justice institutions, as well as foreign governments, multilateral agencies, donors and civil society organisations."
In 2016 FORUM-ASIA celebrates its 25th Anniversary. A momentous occasion, which gives us the opportunity to look back on 25 years of struggle for human rights in Asia. This report will give us the chance to reflect, learn, and plan our focus for the future.