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Global Forum 2015: Shaping Civic Space

May 10-12, 2015 Stockholm, Sweden

The Global Forum 2015 is the premier global event focusing on the legal space for civil society. This invitation-only event, convened by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) brings together over 200 of the world’s leading minds in civil society, government, multilateral institutions, and the donor community – all there to help shape the future of civic space.

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ICNL and partners are working together to translate ideas generated at the Global Forum into action.

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Key Themes

Parallel sessions will address the following key themes:

Fundamental Freedoms: Defending Civil Society Space

Governments are using creative legal maneuvers to shrink space for civil society. What arguments and strategies can CSOs use to defeat undue restrictions? What is the role of diplomats, development officials, and philanthropists in advancing civic space?

Access to Resources

Financial resources – including domestic philanthropy, international grants, and impact investments – are the lifeblood of civil society. An increasing number of countries are now blocking access to resources. How can we promote laws that allow funds to flow?

The Freedom to Communicate and Connect

The freedom of expression is under threat online and offline. Journalists and activists face fines, imprisonment – or worse. Coupled with governmental surveillance, communication and connections are chilled. What can be done to protect the freedoms of expression and association in the digital age?

Peaceful Protest

What are good police practices in response to peaceful protests? How should the police respond to protester violence? How can we avoid a militarized response to peaceful protests?

Civic Space and Development

It is critical that people have a meaningful say in their own development, and this can only happen with adequate civic space. What role does civil society play in advancing development objectives? How can we ensure that the Post-2015 Development Agenda reflects the centrality of civic space to development?

No Democracy Without Citizens

True democracy requires the meaningful participation of citizens through civil society. Unfortunately, civil society is often marginalized at the highest levels of decision-making, both at the national and international levels. How can civil society claim its place as a legitimate – indeed, essential – element in governance?

Rights For All

The best way to expand civic space is to fill it with more people. Unfortunately, many governments are trying to keep LGBT individuals, disabled persons, women, and others out of the public sphere. How do we make civil society and civic space more inclusive?




View the agenda, read speaker bios, and access session resource materials.

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Participant Portal

Register for the Forum and access the agenda, logistics and other background information you’ll need in Stockholm.

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Follow the Forum

Follow the conversation on Twitter using #ICNLforum2015


Past Forums

Every half-decade, ICNL convenes its Global Forum, a one-of-a-kind platform bringing together leading thinkers with the aim of assessing where civil society stands – and how to make it stand taller.

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