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Civic Space Conference: Building new partnerships across civil society

20 June, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

A program prepared by members of the  Civic Space Platform, with a contribution by Marriët Schuurman, the Human Rights Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With civic space worldwide under growing pressure and populism on the rise, civil society organisations increasingly need to be creative in finding ways to act and build just, peaceful and resilient societies. We need to build bridges and partnerships across civil society, also with those that we normally don’t work with, and together bring a story of hope and change.

As civil society actors, we need to have an unbiased and open mind to recognize new and unexpected allies and the capacity to critically examine opponents. There is a rise of unconstructive or anti-rights civil society actors, who contribute to exclusion, racism, gender stigmatization and xenophobia. But there are also unexpected allies; organizations, groups and/or communities who are also affected by the shrinking civic space. Who are the allies within civil society that we neglect? Are we always able to distinguish between ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ in civil society?  How to deal with the un-civic part of civil society? What strategies do we need to identify and engage unusual allies? What are effective strategies to counter our opponents within local civil society?

This learning event will focus attention on:

  • Recognizing our own blind spots.
  • Strategies to identify and engage new allies
  • Building partnerships across civil society to defend and strengthen civic space
  • Strategies to deal with the un-civic part of civil society

Marriët Schuurman, The Human Rights Ambassador, will focus on the urgency of joining forces in the defence of civic space and of a joint narrative on the importance of civic space for a vital society and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
We will have presentations on the need to engage faith-based organisations and independent media as new allies, followed by working group sessions discussing new partnerships, involving also trade unions, political parties, young entrepreneurs and artists.

This learning event is inspired by:

  1. the work of the Civic Engagement Alliance (CEA), one of the Strategic Partners in Dialogue and Dissent. One of the themes of CEA related to civic space includes the position and role of Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) and other religious actors in enhancing civic space;
  2. the 2019 State of Civil Society Report and other studies by CIVICUS that focuses on the growing number of anti-rights civil society actors and the strategies from within civil society to counter them;
  3. The opportunity provided by the new policy framework MFA Dialogue and Dissent program 2.0. that expectedly will have focussed attention for the shrinking civic space and effective civil society partnerships.

Practical details
 June 20th
Time: 9.00 – 13.00
Location: New World Campus (Spaarneplein 2, Den Haag)
Organisation: The program is prepared by platform members ICCO, Prisma, Kerk in Actie, Free Press Unlimited, HIVOS, CNV International and Partos/The Spindle.




New World Campus
Spaarneplein 2
Den Haag, 2515VK Netherlands
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New World Campus
Spaarneplein 2
Den Haag, 2515VK Netherlands
+ Google Map