ICNL Announces the Civic Space Initiative

Published: December 20, 2012

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), Article 19,CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the World Movement for Democracy are pleased to announce the Civic Space Initiative (CSI), a three-year project that aims to protect and expand civic space by fostering an enabling legal environment for civil society organizations. The CSI focuses on civil society legal initiatives at the global, regional, and national levels.

At the global level, the CSI seeks to strengthen the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association by facilitating consultations with civil society, and by providing research and organizational support to the UNSR. The CSI will also enhance synergies between related UN mandate holders by helping to develop “soft norm” standards relating to the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression. In addition, the CSI will also work to promote civil society engagement with the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism and the UN Human Rights Council. Furthermore, in order to increase aid effectiveness, the CSI will develop and implement a set of indicators that measure the enabling environment for CSOs in various countries.

At the regional level, the CSI will promote greater protection for the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression within the framework of regional bodies such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Organization of American States. At the national level, the CSI will provide technical assistance to local civil society activists in their efforts to advance an enabling legal space for civil society and to respond to regulatory threats against civic space as they emerge.

In addition, the CSI will increase public awareness on civil society issues worldwide. Initiatives include the production of films on civil society, the staging of a TED event in Brazil on civil society, and the creation of an interactive website to showcase civil society activism. Finally, the CSI will support research on cutting-edge civil society issues.

Support for the CSI is provided by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).