Civic space—the fundamental freedoms that allow people to gather, communicate, and take part in groups to influence society and politics—is the bedrock of any democracy. But it is increasingly vulnerable.
Mass protests garner significant attention, but what happens next is just as vital for achieving real and lasting change.
As space for civil society continues to close, the international community must redouble its efforts to defend the right of civic activists to hold governments around the world accountable.
In Europe, initiatives to increase citizen participation have made substantial progress, but there are severe difficulties to overcome if these participative forums are to address the core issues of democratic decline and contribute more significantly to its restoration.
Producing more efficacious funding of civic space requires international aid and policy actors to face questions on the nature of closing civic space, how to address it, where to target funding, and how to mitigate against any unintended consequences of aid.
Does the recent surge of citizen activism and anger, which is just the most recent swell in what has been a decade-long tide of large-scale protests, offer some broader lessons about the state of democracy?
Fueled by social media, a wave of civic activism around the world is seeking to change societies. How do these new movements differ from the marches and protests of the past?
Pockets of energetic local Ukrainian activists are improving people’s lives and holding officials accountable, but foreign donors tend to overlook the important work they are doing.
To defend against attack, civil society organizations can promote internal ethical leadership, strong downward accountability to their constituencies, be politically independent, and build coalitions across social and political divides.
One of the signal events in global politics in the last decade has been the transformation of political and civic activism. Not only is the new activism qualitatively different in character from what it was in 2000; its intensity and frequency have dramatically increased.