2017 (2): Why the Space for Civic Engagement Is Shrinking

January 11, 2017

This is the second item addressing the world of human right defenders in 2017. I do this with an ‘old piece’ by Chris Stone, President of the Open Society Foundations, dating back to 21 December 2015 saying that across the globe, governments are shutting down spaces for civic engagement. Something that indeed has become evident.

It starts with the short video clip above in which George Soros, Binaifer Nowrojee, Mburu Gitu, and other experts discuss why this is happening—and how civil society can unite to prevent it.

All around the world, active citizenship is under attack and the space for civic engagement is closing—not just in countries that have struggled under repressive or autocratic governments, but also in democracies with longstanding traditions of supporting freedom of expression. There are many different reasons for this shrinking of the public space.

In some countries, especially newer democracies or countries undergoing political transitions, those in power are fearful of civic activism. Seeing its power, officials in governments with no previous experience regulating political protests or public debates have come down with a heavy hand, erring on the side of preventing change rather than encouraging it.

In other countries, including France and the United States—partly in response to the fear of terrorism—well-established civil liberties have been suspended or cast aside in the name of security. Such measures, from mass surveillance to martial law, reduce the space for civic life, the space where citizens do the work of improving our communities and societies.

Civil society is enormous in its size and diversity. We are members of the media, for-profit businesses, volunteer associations, political parties, trade unions, faith communities, private foundations, and nonprofit organizations. If we are united at all, we are united by our work outside of government and the state to advance the common good—even though we have different ideas of what that looks like.

Because the space we need for this work is closing, we must come together, understand our mutual dependence and interrelatedness, and support each other in this work. We must forge a new solidarity.

Source: Why the Space for Civic Engagement Is Shrinking

see other posts:https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/civil-society-organisations/ 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: