With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing for most of the past year, Cordaid and Hivos have revisited the report Making Civic Space Resilient. This updated version of the report examines the consequences of the restrictions put in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic for civil society in 10 target countries.
On the whole, the picture is worrying: where the space for civil society to operate was shrinking prior to the pandemic, the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the virus have compounded many of these trends. Domestic and gender-based violence are on the rise, limitations of the freedom of association and on critical and free press are growing, and opportunities for civil society to advocate against impunity and for progress are disappearing. The report explores how civil society in a selection of Cordaid and Hivos’ implementation countries are coping, and offers recommendations from their own work on how to preserve civic space.
Cordaid and Hivos cooperate with civil society organizations in more than 35 low and middle-income countries. In 2019, meetings with civic actors were convened in ten countries to discuss the status of civic space. Those countries were selected based on requests from organisations in our network, on the availability of a diverse range of civic actors, and on the wish to include countries with very little to moderate civic space.
This publication summarizes the main barriers to fully utilizing civic space, and it brings together the recommendations and best practices that were discussed at the meetings. For the ten countries, there is a short paper available on the issues and the local context of civic space transformation. The papers will be used in each country to continue the development of a joint proactive strategy to strengthen civic space.
Changing civic space Synthesis (dec 2020) (3)