Oxfam just published a paper on the ‘shrinking civic space’ around the world. In the Paper “Space to be Heard: Mobilizing the power of people to reshape civic space” Oxfam notes that there is a relentless squeeze in dozens of countries on the activities of civil society organizations (CSOs) and activists.
“The space for people to speak out, organize and take action against poverty, inequality and injustice is shrinking on a global scale,” Oxfam noted. “People in many countries around the world face serious restrictions and repression when exercising their basic rights. This includes citizens who raise their voices against corruption and political dysfunction, organizations that save lives and provide basic services to people in need, communities that defend their sustainable livelihoods and demand a fair share of natural resources, and activists who fight for gender justice.”
Oxfam observed that the trend of shifting and shrinking civic space evolves differently in each country. “Shrinking space can be driven by those who see their power and privilege threatened by civil society. It can be driven by those who attack the values that are fundamental for inclusive civic spaces, and by those who prioritize other interests over their professed concerns for civic space in international relations.”
Civic space, Oxfam argued, must be a vital ingredient for any strategy to protect national security, foster development or to preserve social harmony. “Without space to speak out, organize, and take action, progress on inclusive development is severely constrained. Citizens, civil society actors and their allies must formulate a strong and consolidated global response to defend our common space for engagement, debate and action,” Oxfam recommended.