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Case 4 space 1.2. presentation heike alefsen_undg.pptx


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Case 4 space 1.2. presentation heike alefsen_undg.pptx

  1. 1. Civic Space in Asia-Pacific Trends and Perspectives
  2. 2. Civic/Civil society space: Definitions ▶ The place civil society actors occupy within society; ▶ The environment and framework in which civil society operates; ▶ The relationships among civil society actors, the State, public and private sectors and the general public. “Civil society is central to advancing the work of the United Nations across our agenda, not only for human rights but also for peace and security, as well as development. Civil society has never been more important or needed. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 2015
  3. 3. Policy and Legal frameworks for Civic / civil society space ▶ Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals ▶ Emphasis on inclusiveness, universality, leaving no one behind ▶ SDG 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies) ▶ SDG 17 (partnerships and means of implementation) ▶ Youth as key stakeholders: targets under SDG 4 (education), 8 (employment), 13 (climate change) ▶ Human Rights and freedoms – legal frameworks ▶ Expression, Association, peaceful Assembly, Participation, Information ▶ States have voluntarily ratified treaties guaranteeing these rights ▶ Recommitment to human rights/Cross-referenced in 2030 Agenda
  4. 4. Global trends: Achievements ▶ Unprecedented growth in civil society movements over the past decades, also in Asia-Pacific, advocating for democratic governance, open market economies, environmental protection increasingly for transparency and accountability from governments and others ▶ Civil society has contributed significantly to remarkable progress in human development and poverty reduction. CSOs are, in many countries, indispensable government partners through their extensive involvement in service delivery, or in the support they provide to vulnerable groups. ▶ Organized or unorganized, people, including youth, engage new forms of civic mobilization, participation online and offline, internet, mobile communication, social networks etc. generating increased connectivity between people, opening new or alternative sources of information ▶ New fundraising tools and business models have raised the potential of more diversified resources to support and sustain their activities
  5. 5. Civic/civil society space: Key elements of an enabling environment ▶ Supportive legal framework and effective access to justice ▶ Conducive public and political environment ▶ Access to information, participation in policy development, planning and decision-making ▶ Long-term support and resources ▶ Protection of human rights defenders (including youth)
  6. 6. Civic/civil society space: Asia and the Pacific ▶ Conducive public and political environment ▶ 3.2 billion people live in countries where civic space is under threat. Civic space in most Asian countries is closed, repressed or obstructed (source: CIVICUS) ▶ Trend not limited to autocratic states or states with no democratic tradition but some of its manifestations are also observed in well-established democracies ▶ Supportive legal framework and effective access to justice ▶ Between 2012 and 2015, more than 90 laws constraining freedoms of association or assembly have been proposed or enacted, over half in Asia-Pacific (sources: UN Special Rapporteur on freedoms of assembly and association; ICNL) ▶ Access to information ▶ Legislation and policies reducing access to information, cyber crime laws ▶ Killings of journalists: Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are among the 20 countries in the world with the highest number of killings (source: Committee on the Protection of Journalists)
  7. 7. Civic/civil society space: Asia and the Pacific ▶ Long-term support and resources ▶ Laws / policies curbing access to government or private foreign funding, including in the context of counter-terrorism ▶ Regulatory frameworks treating businesses more favourably than civil society ▶ Protection, including for youth human rights defenders (HRDs) ▶ Ex.: 185 killings of environmental activists in 16 countries (source: Global Witness, 2015). Philippines: 25 deaths ▶ Reprisals against HRDs who have been working with the UN system: new UN mechanism to address increasingly concerning trend ▶ Women HRDs at risk
  8. 8. Civic/civil society space: Asia and the Pacific - drivers Arguments advanced by various observers: ▶ Polarized international landscape, characterized by a global shift in power balance and a renewed North-South/East-West divide ▶ Governance and democracy gaps: lack of acceptance and implementation of the necessary features of democratic governance in political systems where independent voices are not accepted. In functioning democracies, a growing disconnect between elected officials and the people ▶ Support for economic growth at all costs, articulated as the need to prioritize certain economic development outputs, often in the form of large-scale infrastructure projects. Local community concerns seen as representing special interests ▶ National / public security, protection against terrorism, fundamentalism, extremism ▶ Internal tensions around national identity issues, anti- migration or anti-refugees sentiment within segments of the general population ▶ The need to strengthen ‘accountability’ of civil society
  9. 9. UN action - Recommendations ▶ In June 2016, the Human Rights Council ▶ Urged States “to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity” (…) to ensure access to justice, and accountability, and to end impunity for human rights violations and abuses against civil society actors (….) ▶ Called upon States to “ensure that domestic provisions on funding to civil society actors are in compliance with their international human rights obligations and commitments and are not misused to hinder the work or endanger the safety of civil society actors”
  10. 10. UN action - recommendations ▶ Engagement and Inclusiveness ▶ Legal frameworks and processes ▶ Data and measurement: Reporting ▶ Monitoring – individual protection ▶ Financial and political support ▶ UN Structural improvements