Last year was a dismal one for civil society around the world. Global citizen alliance CIVICUS tracked serious threats to one or more civic freedoms in over 100 countries. Particularly for those activists who dare to challenge economic and political elites, the environment in which civil society operates has continued to deteriorate. Some of the bravest and most inspiring activists, from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Peru, the Philippines and South Africa, paid the ultimate price, simply for exercising their rights as citizens to organise and mobilise.
This trend is no longer confined to ‘undemocratic’ parts of the world. People in countries and regions that were once considered stable democracies are now facing new battles to protect their basic freedoms from encroachment by states and corporations. Activists, journalists and civil society organisations in countries like Poland, the USA, Canada, Spain and Australia have been harassed on trumped up charges, subjected to illegal surveillance and had their rights restricted through a range of anti-terror or security laws.
Despite this assault on civic space, perhaps at no other time in history is civil society so badly needed – in order to address immense challenges including climate change, the refugee crisis, spiralling income inequality and the rise of extremism and populism. CIVICUS’s State of Civil Society Report 2016 documents these challenges but also how civil society is fighting back and responding through innovation and courage from the local to the global levels.
Join global citizen alliance CIVICUS to discuss these global trends, discover the nature of the threats facing civil society and explore how citizens and organisations can respond. The event will also include a presentation of the CIVICUS Monitor - a new online platform that helps to track global trends on civic freedoms.