CIVICUS Report: Global Restrictions on Civil Society

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October 24, 2013

A new report by CIVICUS, an international civil society network, has documented over 400 cases of abuse of the civil society sector in over 80 countries. Global Trends on Civil Society Restrictions highlights abuse of nonprofits by legislative restrictions, forced shut-down of nonprofits and the assassination and imprisonment of civil society workers. The report concludes that, “marginalization of independent and vocal civil society groups, and the failure to protect them in the exercise of their rights undermines the global compact on development effectiveness.”

The report outlines several tactics used by governments to reduce, or eliminate, civil society participation, including:

  • "Restricting access to funding and imposing barriers to legitimate civil society activities...”
  • Forced shut-downs of nonprofits under the guise of “vague appeals to the notion of legitimacy, transparency and accountability”
  • “The near endemic levels of violence committed against land, indigenous and environmental activists in Southeast Asia and Central America.”
  • And the increasing imprisonment and “harassment of civil society watchdog groups for exposing government corruption and wrongdoing.”

The report argues that governments must adhere to principles of supporting civil society, such as the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (BPd). The BPd recognized the vital role of civil society has in supporting development by “enabling people to claim their rights, in promoting rights-based approaches, in shaping development policies and partnerships and in overseeing their implementation.”