Brussels conference on Defending Civil Society


In association with the European Parliament’s Democracy Caucus, the World Movement for Democracy hosted a conference on March 5, 2008 in Brussels on Resisting the Backlash, Asserting the Democratic Imperative.

Chaired by the Honorable MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, the conference unveiled a comprehensive new report entitled Defending Civil Society, which

  1. outlines the legal impediments used to constrain civil society,
  2. exposes and comprehensively refutes the rationales with which regimes seek to legitimize them, and
  3. identifies and promulgates a set of principles, rooted in international law, to inform proper government-civil society relations and protect NGOs engaged in democracy-promotion and human rights.

The report was commissioned by an Eminent Persons Group, including former Czech President Vaclav Havel and former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, amongst others.  It is based on authoritative legal and political analysis by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and extensive consultations with democracy, human rights and civil society activists at several regional forums.

Representatives for both ICNL and ECNL participated in the meeting, alongside civil society activists from seven countries.