Monitoring & Assessment

How do you measure a concept as broad as civic space, which encompasses freedoms of assembly, association, and expression, as well as ideas of public participation and philanthropy?

Over the years, ICNL and various government, multilateral, and civil society organizations (CSOs) have developed a variety of tools to do just that. Some of these tools track laws that violate specific freedoms, while others assign scores to civic space in individual countries. In monitoring such information, ICNL and other stakeholders can identify threats and trends, prioritize interventions, and mobilize key partners in the fight to protect civic freedoms.

ICNL Alliance Monitoring Tools

Civic Freedom Monitor

ICNL’s Civic Freedom Monitor provides up-to-date information on legal issues affecting civil society and freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly. Reports are available on fifty-four countries and eight multilateral organizations.

COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker

The COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affects civic freedoms and human rights, focusing on emergency laws.

Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index

In partnership with FHI 360, ICNL produces the Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index, which assesses seven key dimensions: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, sectoral infrastructure, and public image. Over 70 country reports are available.

Monitoring the Right to Free Assembly

ECNL and its local partners have produced these comprehensive country reports on the right to free assembly in eleven countries of the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe.

US Protest Law Tracker

The U.S. Protest Law Tracker documents initiatives at both the state and federal levels that restrict the right to protest in the United States.

Fundamental Freedoms Monitoring Project

The Fundamental Freedoms Monitoring Project evaluates the extent to which the freedoms of association, expression, and assembly are exercised in Cambodia.

Enabling Environment National Assessments

Designed jointly by ICNL and CIVICUS, the Enabling Environment National Assessment is an action-oriented research tool that local CSOs can use to assess the legal, regulatory, and policy environments in their countries. Between 2013 and 2016, assessments were conducted in twenty-two countries around the world.

CSO Meter

In partnership with local experts and CSOs, ECNL is piloting the CSO Meter, a tool for monitoring the environment for civil society in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine countries. The CSO Meter measures both laws and practices against international standards and best practices.

ICNL Alliance Reports & Other Resources

Briefer on Monitoring Public Assemblies

This ECNL briefer provides an overview of the principles and practices that human rights groups and activists should consider before, during, and after monitoring public assemblies, protests, and demonstrations.

The State of Civic Freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa

This 2018 report, prepared by ICNL in partnership with Beyond Reform & Development and Menapolis, assesses the environment for CSOs and the exercise of civic free­doms in Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Kuwait.

Assessment Tools for Measuring Civil Society's Enabling Environment

This 2014 issue of Global Trends in NGO Law examines eight tools that seek to measure the enabling environment for civil society.

Other Monitoring Tools & Resources

CIVICUS Monitor

The CIVICUS Monitor is a web-based platform that provides constantly updated information on civic space and citizen activism in every country of the world. Each country is placed in one of five broad categories – closed, repressed, obstructed, narrowed, or open –based on its overall respect for civic freedoms.

CIVICUS State of Civil Society Report

Each year, the CIVICUS State of Civil Society Report examines key trends affecting CSOs and citizen movements around the world.

Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation Progress Reports

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation works with more than 160 governments to track progress in implementing the principles for development effectiveness enshrined in the 2011 Busan Partnership Agreement.

European Civil Society Watch

This online tool powered by the European Civic Forum gathers alerts, analyses, and institutional resources related to civic space in Europe.

Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development

With input from ECNL, the Balkan Civil Society Development Network developed this tool to measure the health of the legal, regulatory, and financial environments in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The matrix focuses on three core areas: basic legal guarantees of freedoms, frameworks for CSOs’ financial viability and sustainability, and government-CSO relations.

Past Monitoring Initiatives

The Hudson Institute's Index of Philanthropic Freedom

This 2015 report identifies the barriers and incentives involved in donations of money and time to social causes by individuals and organizations.

Improving the Measurement of Civic Space

This 2015 report by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative discusses the development of a global index to foster effective advocacy and protect and enable civic space.

CIVICUS' Enabling Environment Index

This composite index relies on secondary data to assess the governance, socio-cultural, and socio-economic environments for civil society in 109 countries in 2013.

ARVIN Framework

Developed jointly by ICNL and the World Bank in 2003, the ARVIN Framework is an analytical tool for assessing the environment for civic engagement. The tool looks at legal, governmental, socio-cultural, and economic factors affecting five aspects of civic engagement: association, resources, voice, information, and negotiation.

All Monitoring & Assessment Resources

2018 Report of the UN Secretary General on Progress Toward the SDGs

2018 Report of the UN Secretary General on Progress Toward the SDGs
This report provides a global overview of the current situation of the Sustainable Development Goals, ... Read More

At the Intersection of Security and Regulation

At the Intersection of Security and Regulation
This 2018 report by the Human Security Collective and ECNL examines the phenomenon of “de-risking,” ... Read More

Legal and Regulatory Challenges Facing Civil Society Organizations in the United States

Legal and Regulatory Challenges Facing Civil Society Organizations in the United States
This briefing, released in February 2018, explores how select recent changes, or proposed changes, in ... Read More

Monitoring the Right to Free Assembly in 9 European Countries – 2017

Monitoring the Right to Free Assembly in 9 European Countries – 2017
Recent years have seen an increased number and intensity of protests in the Western Balkans ... Read More

ICNL’s Written Submission to the 2017 IACHR Hearing on the Right to Peaceful Assembly in the United States

ICNL's Written Submission to the 2017 IACHR Hearing on the Right to Peaceful Assembly in the United States
The United States is a longstanding democracy that prides itself on setting an international standard ... Read More

The Regulatory Framework for Fundraising in Europe

The Regulatory Framework for Fundraising in Europe
The past decade has seen a number of European countries revisit their regulatory framework on ... Read More
Explore our full resource collection, which includes reports, legal analysis, and curated collections of materials covering an array of issues impacting civic space around the world.