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Localization and Civic Space

Localization—giving local partners more control and ownership of development initiatives—is a priority for the international development community. Local civil society organizations (CSOs) that can lead, design, and implement effective projects are indispensable to this agenda. This, in turn, is predicated on the existence of an enabling environment for civil society.

Extractive Industries and Civic Space

In January and February 2022, ICNL worked with NRGI, PWYP, Oxfam USA, and the Institute of Development Studies to convene a diverse group of partners from civil society, academia, and multilateral institutions to explore strategies and approaches for promoting natural resource governance (NRG) and expanding civic space in politically hostile environments. The meetings focused on rethinking goals and approaches to advancing NRG in restricted environments, addressing new strategies and approaches to defending and expanding civic space for NRG activists, and implications for just energy transitions.

A Pandemic of Silence

Written by ICNL consultant Meghna Sharma, this briefer examines how authoritarian COVID-19 policies in the Indo-Pacific region have affected civil society’s freedom of expression in Asia. Drawing from the ICNL-ECNL Covid-19 Civic Freedoms Tracker, the briefer examines various repressive measures, including censorship of speech through criminalization measures, harassment in the name of targeting ‘fake news,’ cyber-attacks, and other methods used to suppress the free expression of civil society actors.

Resilience in Southeast Asia

Authored by ICNL consultant Kirana Anjani, this briefer dives deep into the challenges faced by civil society in Southeast Asia as a result of authoritarian COVID-19 policies adopted by many governments in the region, to the detriment of civic space and effective COVID-19 response. Drawing from data in the ICNL-ECNL Covid-19 Civic Freedoms Tracker, the briefer examines examples of rampant digital surveillance by governments, lack of transparency and access with respect to critical public health information, and attacks on both community COVID-19 initiatives and medical frontline workers.

The Triple Threat to Civil Society in India

This working paper, by Ingrid Srinath, the Director of the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, examines the origins and growing strength of forces ranged against civil society in India, and points toward the actions necessary to confront them – including reforming regulatory frameworks, anachronistic laws, and improving participatory governance.

Enhancing the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938

On April 5, 2022, the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary’s subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on enhancing the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. ICNL Senior Legal Advisor Nick Robinson testified, highlighting these issues and outlining recommendations.

The Regulatory Regime Debilitating India’s Nonprofit Sector

Throughout the COVID pandemic, India’s nonprofit sector filled crucial gaps by providing essential social services and humanitarian relief. And yet, the sector has been targeted by the government with onerous requirements at every turn, greatly hampering their work.

ECNL: International Standards Protecting the Climate and its Defenders

This guide, created by ECNL, explores the key standards that protect climate activists’ civic freedoms.  It maps out the standards that protect their rights to association, peaceful assembly, expression, and participation; the types of restrictions that impact environmental defenders; and the mechanisms that can enforce their rights and freedoms.

4 Things to Know About Thailand’s Updated Draft NPO Bill

On January 4, 2022, the Thai Cabinet approved a revised draft non-profit organization (NPO) bill drafted by the Office of the Council of State, which replaced a prior version of the Bill approved by the Cabinet in February 2021. Here are four things you need to know about the revised law.