Activizenship #4

Civic space Watch report 2019 – Success stories of resistance

Human rights defenders and civic organisations are increasingly under the pressure of democratic backsliding and shrinking social rights and policies in Europe today. While these challenges undermine their space of action, they often galvanise citizens to protect and expand fundamental rights (equality, inclusion, dignity, sustainability and justice) against growing political apathy, consumerism, exclusion and individualisation. Organised civil society and social movements play a crucial role in monitoring, advocating and organising resistance. And they find increasingly inspiring approaches and strategies to do so. 

This fourth issue of Activizenship illustrates the finding of the Civic Space Watch the stories of the activists and groups that are at the forefront the resistance. It contains a general analysis of EU trends of deterioration and expansion observed in 2019, six interviews with inspiring activists, associations, movements or groups of citizens who fight for fundamental rights and justice for all, while also resisting attempts to deny their rights to associate, protest, speak out and act


ONE YEAR AND A HALF MONITORING CIVIC SPACE - Challenges for acting for rights are increasing but civil society is striking back

The analysis draws from nearly 400 resources collected on the Civic Space Watch between 2018 and 2019. The report identifies key trends that impacted on civil society in that period, including:

  • Adverse political and socio-economic landscape
  • Targeting “political” actions and chilling effect on advocacy
  • Cracking down on solidarity
  • Overregulating and overburdening the sector
  • Restricting the right to peaceful assembly
  • Heavy-handed policing of protests
  • Covering protests and police actions is becoming increasingly dangerous
  • Using anti-terrorism and public security laws to smear, surveil and silence dissent
  • Business secrecy and corporate SLAPP Lawsuits used to threaten civic activism
  • Reduction and restriction of funding for civil society’s activities
  • Barriers to meaningful civil dialogue
  • Civil society strikes back