Protecting Civic Space and Human Rights


Civil society in over half of the world’s countries is facing serious restrictions on its freedom to engage, express itself and be heard. With increased surveillance, persecution and even violence against civil society, many civil society organizations (CSOs) have come under attack, particularly those advocating on behalf of excluded groups and minorities, for democratic rights and environmental defenders. In an increasing number of countries, governments are deliberately building a negative narrative about the partiality and unrepresentativeness of CSOs, as vectors for foreign agendas, as foreign agents and even security challenges to the government. Human rights defenders and activists advocating for many different agendas in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Global North are targeted, as well as related CSOs. 


Resources and Publications on Protecting Civic Space and Human Rights


Civil Society-Global Affairs Canada Dialogue 2019 

Cooperation Canada regularly partners with Global Affairs Canada to carry out a dialogue between the department and civil society. In 2019, the theme of the dialogue focused on civic space and the civil society enabling environment in Canada and globally. The dialogue offered an opportunity to learn about Canada’s efforts globally and engage with Global Affairs Canada on the implementation of Canada’s Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance Policy: A Feminist Approach. Cooperation Canada continues to support implementation of this policy, including through the Civil Society Policy Advisory Group (CPAG). 



Civil society enabling environment and the role of national coalitions 

In partnership with Forus and AidWatch Canada, Cooperation Canada is leading a scoping study on civic space and the CSO enabling environment. Based on a state-of-the-art international literature review, survey of national coalitions around the world and in-depth interviews with national platforms, coalitions and allies, the study examines: 

  • the experiences and challenges of CSOs working with civic space and enabling environment in different countries; and 
  • the role of national and global coalitions as well as other allies supporting civic space and enabling environment.