UN High Commissioner’s Report on the Enabling Environment for Civil Society


ICNL and ECNL welcome the report of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on “Practical recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society, based on good practices and lessons learned” (A/HRC/32/20).  The report highlights elements necessary for robust civil society space.  Among other recommendations, the report calls on States to:

  1. Ensure that civil society actors can seek, receive and use funding and other resources, whether domestic or foreign, without prior authorization or other undue impediments.
  2. Ensure that all counter-terrorism measures that have an impact on civil society comply with all relevant international human rights law and standards.
  3. Demonstrate high-level political support for the independence and diversity of civic activity through public statements and public information campaigns.
  4. Recognize the right to participation in public decision-making processes in legislation, adopt new technologies and social media to solicit wider input, and increase capacity of officials to implement meaningful consultations.
  5. Develop or update a national policy framework and action plan to guide implementation of the recommendations formulated in the present report and of all international human rights law and standards relevant to civil society space.

The report also calls on regional and international entities, including the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the Economic and Social Council, to expand transparency and provide for the effective participation of civil society.

Download the report in all six official UN languages:

ICNL and ECNL with its partners from the Civic Space Initiative (CIVICUS, Article 19, and the World Movement for Democracy) contributed to the report by sharing global perspectives and organizing regional consultations in Europe, Africa, and Latin America and a global consultation at our 2015 Global Forum on civic space.  Scores of other organizations provided input on the report, and we thank the Office of the High Commissioner for its participatory approach.   We look forward to continued engagement with OHCHR and UN Member States to support the implementation of the report’s recommendations at the national level.

The report was requested by the Human Rights Council in Resolution 27/31 and will be presented at the upcoming 32nd session of the Council. Background information is available here.

This announcement is prepared by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law through the Civic Space Initiative (CSI). The CSI is a program that addresses the troubling trend of governments attempting to restrict civic space and is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). We thank the Government of Sweden for their generous support. The Government of Sweden does not necessarily share the opinions here within expressed.