Thursday, May 23, 2013

Civil Society Under Attack Around the World

    Thursday, May 23, 2013   No comments

In December 2011, 159 governments and major international organisations recognised the central role of civil society in development and promised to create an “enabling” operating environment for the non-profit sector.
Despite the tall talk at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid and Development Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, today NGOs, trade unions, faith based groups, social movements and community based organisations working to expose rights violations and corruption remain in a state of siege in many parts of the world.

Reports by U.N. officials and respected civil society organisations show that false prosecutions and murderous attacks on activists are rife and threatening to derail international development objectives even as we debate a new framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015.

In fact, moves are being championed by some governments to limit civil society participation at high-level meetings of the U.N. General Assembly through a process whereby states can issue politically motivated objections to the inclusion of particular NGOs in key discussions.

Unfortunately, legal restrictions on free speech, formation of civic organisations and the right to protest peacefully appear to be on the rise despite the rhetoric of engaging civil society in global decision making forums.

In many countries civil society groups are being prevented from accessing funding from international sources, as highlighted by the U.N.’s special expert on freedom of assembly and association in his latest report.

In Russia, non-profit advocacy groups receiving international funding are being subjected to intrusive inspections to ensure compliance with a controversial law that requires NGOs to register under the highly offensive nomenclature of “foreign agents”, or face sanctions.

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