Government responses to the new coronavirus are disrupting civil society all over the world. But while government measures are dramatically restricting civic space, the global crisis is also catalyzing new forms of mobilization.

In many countries, civil society actors are rising to the challenge, filling in gaps left by governments to provide essential services, spreading information about the virus, and protecting marginalized groups. They are also forging new coalitions to hold their governments to account.

These trends are encouraging, but questions remain about the pandemic’s long-term impact on civil society: Can the efforts of civic actors help counter governments’ negative narratives of them? Will the pandemic worsen existing divides in society or encourage new alliances? Can civic actors invent new ways to advocate, and could local initiatives transform into national-level action after the crisis?

Join members of Carnegie’s global Civic Research Network for a discussion on how civil society is responding to the pandemic and what the longer-term consequences could be for civic activism. This issue is explored in a recent Carnegie article, “Civil Society and the Coronavirus: Dynamism Despite Disruption.”

This virtual event will be moderated by Thomas Carothers.

To submit a question for the event, please use the YouTube chat or tweet at us @CarnegieDCG.


Thomas Carothers

Thomas Carothers is senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In that capacity he oversees all of the research programs at Carnegie.  He also directs the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program and carries out research and writing on democracy-related issues.

Youssef Cherif

Youssef Cherif is the deputy director of Columbia Global Centers | Tunis. He was previously the Al-Maidan project manager for Libya at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and an expert affiliated to the Tunisian Institute for Strategic Studies.

Maureen Kademaunga

Maureen Kademaunga is a doctoral researcher at the Human Economy Research Program at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She leads For-Zim-Women/TsimbaKadzi, a political empowerment platform for women in Zimbabwe, and is a member of the board of directors for Global Witness.

Janjira Sombatpoonsiri

Janjira Sombatpoonsiri is an associate fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and researcher at the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Her research focuses on civil society in democratization and authoritarianism, the politics of nonviolent struggle, and conflict transformation.

Vijayan MJ

Vijayan MJ is an independent researcher and writer associated with the Research Collective in New Delhi, India. Over the past two decades, he has been part of shaping the engagement and commitment of several civic initiatives for peace, justice, environmental protection, and community rights in India.