High-Level Event on Civic Space
October 2, 2015
The High-Level Event on Civic Space took place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
On Tuesday, September 29, Secretary General of the Community of Democracies Maria Leissner and Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the US Department of State led the High-Level event on Civic Space at the United Nations Headquarters.
Participants included representatives from Governing Council member states and civil society organizations, which shared experiences and challenges associated with the space in which civil society operates. The clear indication of the successes that thriving civil societies and vibrant dialogues harvest as well as the ways in which authoritative governments respond to such movements were one of many topics addressed at the meeting.
These forms of regimes fear the effectiveness and education of civil society organizations and are concerned with the documentation of human rights violations, which expose the fragility of their corrupt governments.
The participants further argued that civil society must be revitalized and that government accountability is an integral part of the renewal process – both internally and externally. Standing with citizens when their freedoms are impeded on, attacked or constrained is crucial, but international governments must do more.
Providing material support speaks volumes. Tools such as legal representation, multilateral and diplomatic pressure as well as action plans that allocate resources to protect civil society are important elements of the transition process.
Inclusive democracies make countries stronger and the Community will work with the Presidency to vouch for stronger mechanisms, peer-to-peer support, training and long-term objectives to ensure that governments do not apply restrictive laws that hinder citizen activities.
The crackdown on civil society is a direct representation of governments under pressure, and these actions must be combatted not only with theory, but also practice.
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