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Question of the week 32


How do shrinking civic spaces affect the mission(s) of civil society organizations?

Reactions (4)


Yannicke Goris - The Broker
2018-02-22 12:16

To begin formulating an answer as to how shrinking civic space affects civil society organisations (CSOs), it is important to unpack this notion of shrinking civic space. A multitude of dynamics and actors are at play that influence the openness of civic space and may pose a threat to the room available to civil society. Such dynamics include, but are not limited to 1) structural barriers, like globalization and financialisation; and 2) practical measures and mechanisms, such as (counter)terrorism, legal and financial barriers, censorship and f... read more »

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Joyce Hamilton - COC Nederland
2018-02-23 15:51

LGBTI organisations are often disproportionately affected by measures of governments that try to limit space for civil society. In many countries they already operate in a context where same sex conduct is criminalized, other laws used against LGBTI people such as on cross-dressing, public disorder, vagabonding or debauchery, and there is no access to justice or legal protection. This makes LGBTI organisations or their work illegal or close to impossible to register. Human rights defenders are in constant danger of harassment, extortion or inti... read more »

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Barbara Oosters - Oxfam Novib
2018-02-26 21:25

Oxfam experiences shrinking civic space daily in our work on land rights, gender justice, youth as active citizens, and economic inequality. Staff from partner organizations are arrested and sentenced because of their courage to defend, for example, the land rights of poor farmers in Cambodia. We have seen activists – often partners or allies – in countries such as Honduras, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Mozambique – assassinated for the views they espouse and the principles they stand for. Laws and other legal documents have been adopted in Egypt,... read more »

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Jur Schuurman - unattached
2018-02-26 23:23

With regard to both the formulation of the question of the week and the contents of the recommended reading, what is absolutely amazing is the total absence of even an attempt to define civic space and to measure whether it is actually shrinking. This should have been the first step of all: providing a definition of civic space and some facts about its alleged reduction in size.

My amazement is all the stronger considering that such a definition and its operationalisation exist. CIVICUS (also mentioned by Yannicke Goris, above) has developed... read more »

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