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Non-state actors and civic space in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Palestine

Examining the impact of non-state actors on civic space in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Palestine

A growing body of monitoring and research confirms that CSOs are increasingly unable to freely exercise their right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Although they act peacefully and lawfully, CSOs on all continents, in democratic and authoritarian countries alike, have become the target of restrictions by state and non-state actors.

The aim of this research is to describe how various groups in a society, other than states, impact, positively or negatively, on the space for civil society to associate, assemble peacefully, express their views and engage in meaningful dialogue with governments. These groups may have widely divergent goals, but their actions and omissions impact to some degree on the amount and quality of space available to CSOs to carry out their work. This study look at how the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and northern CSOs can directly support southern CSO partners operating in restrictive contexts, as well as advocate regionally and internationally for civic space, taking full account of the role of all actors, and not just states.

The research project will document trends between NSAs and CSOs over several years to capture the dynamic and interactive relationship between CSOs and NSAs, while collecting time series data by looking at restrictions over a 10-year period from 2008–2018. The primary method for the research will be process tracing, which will be used to trace the mechanisms of people, finances and networks. The study adopts a case study approach, ensuring comparability between cases to enable research findings to extend beyond the cases studied. Lastly, the research will use both qualitative and quantitative data collection tools (surveys, focus group discussions, expert interviews and a literature review) to answer the research questions.

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  • Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
  • Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO

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