International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations

Closing Space for
Civil Society and
Democratic Dissent

In recent years, a growing number of governments around the world have stepped up attacks against democratic dissent, including attacks on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Certain governments have been restricting civil society space which has affected citizens’ rights to engage in democratic dissent. In addition to them, non-government entities such as businesses, private militias, religious groups, and even ordinary citizens have also been contributing to this disturbing trend.

The NGOs and other civil society actors in these countries have increasingly become the target of public vilification, hostile legislation, arbitrary enforcement, surveillance, and in more extreme cases, freedom of movement restrictions, intimidation and arrest.

These measures significantly interfere with the ability of NGOs and other civil society actors to function effectively, continue to facilitate citizen engagement, and protect people’s rights and their access to information and justice.

Some highlights:

  1. Organizations working at the local and national level play the main role in pushing back against the tide of politics that seeks to undermine civil society. At the same time, INCLO believes that grassroot initiatives need to be supported by —although not be dependent on— international solidarity.

    To show solidarity, INCLO has developed a set of standard strategies that can be used as guidelines by NGOs tackling restrictive governmental actions that they are confronted with at the national level.

    Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs formulates possible responses to each of the five identified threats that have been emerging as a global pattern.

    The publication draws on the first-hand experiences of different organizations, including some of INCLO’s 13 members that work on issues related to civil liberties and human rights around the world.

Publications:

  • Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs
    Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs
    English PDF
  • Gaining Ground Brochure
    Gaining Ground - Brochure
    English PDF