Food For Thoughts

The European Civic Forum is aware that policies and legislative measures are only one tool that state and non-state actors have at their disposal to hinder the actions of civil society. The first obstacle they face is isolation and delegitimation, which allows governments to openly attack activists without facing citizens’ opposition

According to a research requested by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights,

“The burden of argumentation has now switched around to fall on civil society’s shoulders. Civic groups are faced with the need to explain why they should have the right to exist unhindered and receive support from the outside. This is a major inversion of the whole civic climate that goes well beyond the individual NGO laws that have been introduced – and the significance of this inversion has still not been fully seized. It means inter alia that effective responses will need to rework a whole narrative about the merits and rights of civil society.”

This section of the European Civic Space Watch aims at collecting positive stories and new, constructive narratives on the role of civil society in ensuring the well-functioning of democracy and defending citizens’ interests in national and supranational policymaking. It also includes analysis of the crisis of values that is at the core of shrinking civic space in Europe.

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(Institute of Public Affairs) Political Capital presents its report aiming to better understand, raise awareness of and respond to populism in Poland and Hungary. Together with our partners from Poland, the Institute of Public Affairs, we conducted research on the drivers of deep social and political divisions, and we organized ...
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(The Irish Times) Law being used to shut down organisations holding politics to account For community and voluntary organisations across Ireland, yesterday’s settlement of the court proceedings between Amnesty International Ireland and the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) brought great relief. At the High Court, Sipo withdrew its demand for ...
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(ROBERT BIEDROŃ on Politico) Brussels’ plans to link funding to rule of law risks harming the people it wants to help. WARSAW — In Poland, local government is under siege. Since the Law and Justice party (PiS) came to power in 2015, it has repeatedly tried to take away local funding and ...
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(By Mirko Herberg on International politics and society) Trade unions are under pressure worldwide. Yet they find creative ways to make the world more just and inclusive The democratic space for working people is closing off across the world. The International Trade Union Confederation’s Global Rights Index paints a bleak picture: workers are coming under ...
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(Balkan Civil Society Development Network) In recent years, governments around the world have responded to increased activism, protests and political engagement of citizens and various civil society actors with cracking down on civic space. Unfortunately, these trends have not bypassed the Western Balkans and Turkey either. Restrictions on foreign funding (in ...
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BACKGROUND: Rita Alsouliman comes from Homs (Syria) and lives in Utrecht (Netherlands). She is one of the 15 young Syrian leaders taking part in the project ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ of Dutch civil rights organization Kompass. After 7-months of intense leadership training, this diverse Syrian group articulates its views on issues ...
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(Budapest Beacon) “We need to speak about how today Hungary once again has a one-party system. Parliamentary democracy has been completely hollowed out. There is no point to formal opposition politics... What can (opposition members of parliament) do against this? Hold up signs in Parliament?” – Márton Gulyás, founder, Country for ...
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(Equal Times) Waves of protests unheard of since the fall of Communism and the formation of new resistance movements are challenging Poland’s increasingly authoritarian government. There’s a lot to protest about with regards to the policies and positions of Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the right-wing populist Law and Justice party : public ...
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(International Center for Non-For-Profit Law  & World Movement for Democracy/ BCSDN) This Toolkit, co-authored by NED’s World Movement for Democracy and ICNL, compiles the experiences of those who have engaged in legal reform initiatives in over dozens countries worldwide and provides tips, tools, and strategies that organizations and activists around ...
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(Transparency and Accountability Initiative / BCSDN) This briefing and discussion paper analyzes how governments refer to transparency and accountability to argue for tighter regulation of CSOs. Invoking transparency and accountability, governments around the world typically propose regulation in three areas: transparency of funding, and especially of foreign funding; income and asset ...
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