Civil society and the ability to exercise the core civic space freedoms – the freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly – have been under threat for many years. This challenge – often called “closing civic space” – has been the focus of much study and diagnosis. The more complex question, however, is what can be done in response.
This report examines how donor governments can effectively support civic space in this challenging environment. What strategies, approaches, and practices can donors consider to protect civic space? We examine the trends in civic space constraints, why donor governments should be countering these trends, and how they can effectively do so. While there is, of course, no guarantee for success, there have been successful efforts to counter restrictions and protect civic space.