Dossier: Squeezed – Space for Civil Society
Civil society is part and parcel of all political processes, be they national or international. It can shape political processes, successfully organise political participation, uncover corruption and human rights abuses – and it will demand accountability from state actors.
But all across the world, civil society is under pressure. In many countries, state authorities are taking more and more systematic measures, aimed to restrict the work of civil society. Furthermore, civil society actors are targets of defamation, threats and violence. These developments, known as "shrinking space" or "closing space", have become a global trend.
The present dossier provides analyses and background information about how civil societies' spaces are being restricted and highlights various facettes. Examples from a number of countries provide evidence of how civil society is put under pressure – and what counter-strategies are being developed. Finally the dossier presents initatives, that are actively fighting against shrinking spaces to "Regain civic space!"
The promotion of democracy is one of the core themes in the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s international programmes. In collaboration with our courageous partners in many parts of the world, we are trying to widen the scope for political and social participation and emancipation. Specifically, we aim to strengthen civil society and democratically legitimate parliaments. We are trying to bolster women’s political and social rights, and we campaign against the discrimination and criminalisation of people whose sexual orientation or gender identity does not conform to the norm, that is: LGBTI.
Initiatives against shrinking spaces
Fewer and fewer governments in the North, the South, and the East feel bound by established international law that guarantees and protects freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of organization. We have to remind them of this, constantly and vehemently.Barbara Unmüßig
Shrinking Spaces: In many fields civil societies' activities are restricted
Especially organisations and activists engaging in environmental protection, equality or LGBTI rights are under threat. The limitations are visible on different levels - be it with the disconnection of certain web sites or the participation in international processes.
Under pressure: In many countries civil socities are beeing squeezed out
Egypt, Cambodia and Russia are just a few examples on how governments globally are taking extreme actions against civil society activists. Our articles illustrate where the spaces for civil society action are shrinking.
Five years after the iconic “18 Days of Tahrir” and three years after the overthrow of the first freely elected president the situation of Egypt's civil society is precarious: An estimated 40.000 activists languish in Egyptian prisons for political reasons, often without a verdict.Janis Grimm
Interview with Emin Milli, journalist and director at Meydan TV