A new report from Mama Cash and the Urgent Fund for Women's Human Rights puts a gender lens on the issue of closing space for civil society. Standing Firm: Women- and Trans-Led Organisations Respond to Closing Space for Civil Society is based on 15 interviews with activist groups led by women and transgender people working from a feminist perspective in six countries where closing space is an urgent concern: China, Egypt, India, Russian Federation, Turkey and Uganda.
All groups interviewed reported that their organization had been repressed in relation to the activists' gender and/or the gender focus of their work. Specifically, research revealed closure of many of these organizations as well as the use of sexualized violence to silence them. In addition, societies with restrictive civil society space promote patriarchal values and a binary gender framework within nationalist rhetoric.Activists in all six countries report that "increasingly conservative political forces openly frame women's rights and LGBTQI rights as products of 'Western interference'." Finally, feminist and trans activists, as a result of their history of experiencing exclusion and repression, are creative in their resistance of closing civil society space. As one Russian activist said, 'When they shut the door, we come in the window."
The architects of the AML/CFT framework deny that de-risking problems are caused by their regulations, "asserting instead that the banks are misinterpreting and/or misapplying the requirements, all the while lamenting the disappearance of clean money into 'shadow banking' channels," write Ben Hayes, Lia Van Broekhoven and Vanja Skoric an Open Democracy article calling on the G20 to take decisive action.
The article, De-risking and non-profits, how do you solve a problem that no-one wants to take responsibility for?, describes several "elephants in the room" around the de-risking of nonprofits. These include the wider problems facing non-profit organizations and a "global system for countering terrorist financing that was quickly drawn-up by US officials in the wake of 9/11 and railroaded through the intergovernmental decision-making system in just six weeks." They also ponder questions "as to the ultimate effectiveness of a system whose 'negative externalities' are piling up, but whose impact in terms of actually stopping the flow of funds to terrorist groups and their supporters is at best disputed and at worst rejected outright."
The article states that non-profits are forced to find workarounds rather than solutions, which further embeds financial institution's practices and argues that time should be taken to find real solutions that benefit all parties.
Improving space for civil society would be a "monumental achievement" for the G20 Summit, according to an essay by CIVICUS researcher Cathal Gilbert in Al Jazeera, It's Time for G20 Leaders to Embrace Civil Society. The G20 Summit, meeting in Hamburg, Germany, should be viewed as an opportunity to reverse the trend of closing civil society space globally, Gilbert asserts. Solving the problems at the top of the G20 agenda, such as the climate change accord, terrorist threats and the global economy, can only be done with support from nonprofits, NGOs, social movements and individual citizens, he notes.
Eight of the G20 member countries have been rated as "closed," "repressed," or "obstructed" by the CIVICUS Monitor, which rates the current state of civil society in every country in the world. Many G20 member countries "excel at attacking their critics and closing space for citizens to organise, take action and speak out on political, social, environmental and other issues," Gilbert explains. In four of the G20 countries - China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - citizens who criticize authority or express opinions on political or social issues risk harassment, imprisonment or even death. Only meeting host Germany protects its civil society space well enough to earn an "open" ranking on the Monitor.