Shrinking of civic freedoms and closing of 'civic space': Latest reports and analysis

 

 

Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, A/71/385, 14. September 2016

The report examines the exercise and enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the workplace, with a focus on the most marginalized portions of the world’s labour force, including global supply chain workers, informal workers, migrant workers, domestic workers and others.  

 

 

 

Maina Kiai (2015): Reclaiming Civic Space Through Supported Litigation, in: International Journal on Human Rights, 12 (22), 245

With the issue of shrinking civil space an ever lurking menace, the author discusses how new approaches are needed – not only to protect the civil space that still exists but increasingly to regain that which is already lost. Maina Kiai explains how the traditional tools alone – such as reporting - are no longer fit for purpose. Consequently, his mandate has developed a new litigation project which aims to support the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association through litigation in domestic and regional courts. The project actively seeks to support cases related to these rights and focuses on providing technical assistance and advisory services to litigants, attorneys and civil society organisations. Moreover, the author’s office submits amicus curiae briefs in relevant cases to add critical analysis and an international voice. The author presents his experience of lodging one such brief in Bolivia and encourages  readers to get involved in the project. 

 

 

Kenneth Roth (2016): How the Politics of the Fear and the Crushing of Civil Society Imperil Global Rights, in: Human Rights Watch, Annual Report.

A polarizing us-versus-them rhetoric and trends of anti-terroism policies threatened human rights in two ways, one well known, the other less visible. The high-profile threat is a rollback of rights by many governments in the face of the refugee flow and the parallel decision by the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS, to spread its attacks beyond the Middle East. The less visible threat is the effort by a growing number of authoritarian governments to restrict civil society, particularly the civic groups that monitor and speak out about those governments’ conduct. The high-profile threat is a rollback of rights by many governments in the face of the refugee flow and the parallel decision by the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS, to spread its attacks beyond the Middle East. The less visible threat is the effort by a growing number of authoritarian governments to restrict civil society, particularly the civic groups that monitor and speak out about those governments’ conduct.

 

 

International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (2016): Survey of Trends Affecting Civic Space: 2015-16, Volume 7, Issue 4 

In order for development and humanitarian CSOs to carry out their critical work, they require, at a minimum, the freedom to exercise three interdependent rights: the rights to peacefully assemble, freely associate, and openly express themselves. Impediments to the exercise of these rights undermine civil society’s ability to contribute to a country’s development. This review of global state practice reveals that in an increasing number of countries, local and international CSOs engaged in critical development work are constrained from fully exercising their internationally protected rights, and thus, from serving the communities that need and depend on them.

 

 

 

Ilyas Saliba and Edward Stoddar (2016): Killing them softly? Assessing Pre-emptive Repression in Russia and Egypt, 2016

Autocrats increasingly use repressive mechanisms to pre-emptively manage risks emanating from civil society. Based on an analysis of Russian and Egyptian repression of civil society, this paper offers a typology of ‘hybrid’ and ‘conventional’ pre-emptive repression and seeks to explain divergence in the strategies adopted by the Putin and Sisi regimes.

Summaries originally published by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Foundation.