Civil society is at the forefront of the collective response to various emergencies, but faces serious threats and also a funding crisis, according to a new report.
Over the past year, civil society has been in the front line of the response to various humanitarian emergencies, from Ebola to the bombing of Gaza. But according to this new report, civil society organizations face serious threats and a major funding crisis worldwide.
Dr. Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS, said the following in connection with the publication of this annual report: “Over the past year, civil society has been everywhere doing a great job, often in front of global challenges, but also has had to deal with threats that endanger their very existence. ”
According to CIVICUS, a global network of non-governmental organizations, civil society exerts pressure on authorities in the context of major world problems such as poverty, inequality and climate change, but are also in the frontline when humanitarian emergencies arise including those caused by armed conflicts and natural disasters. In addition to the Ebola crisis and natural disasters in Nepal and Vanuatu, in the past year civil society has also had to answer to a series of conflicts, including Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, Gaza, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
For Sriskandarajah, “Despite the incredible work that civil society performs, it remains under attack. Only in 2014, we have documented serious violations of “civic space” – meaning freedom of expression, association and meeting-in 96 countries worldwide. Considering the size of these countries implies that a total of 6 out of 7 people in the world live in countries where civil liberties are threatened. ”
Sriskandarajah added: “To make matters worse, organizations need more funding, many of them based in the global south, only receive a fraction of the billions of dollars of funds allocated to the sector. It is an untenable situation. Many donors are aware that civil society is doing essential work, but we need more courage on their part to ensure the survival of those at the forefront”.
Interestingly, there is a relationship between civic space and resourcing. According to Sriskandarajah, “There is nothing strange in national civil society not having the capacity to defend itself against attacks on civic space where, systematically, donors have invested in local organizations below their needs.”
While section · “The year in brief” evaluates the conditions for a broad spectrum of organizations, groups and individuals in civil society, the thematic section focuses on resources for civil society organizations engaged in advocacy and lobbying, seeking policy change, demanding accountability of elites and defend human rights.
The report urges governments to honor their commitments and protect the fundamental rights of its citizens, donors to be more courageous, and civil society to be united and show solidarity in light of the threats they must face each time in more areas.