When the road to democracy gets hijacked

By Rowena McNaughton

 It was a Friday, 29 July. An endless throng of battered motor bikes and bicycles were clogging the sometimes bitumen, often dust, roads of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Fruit sellers had started to dismantle primitive wooden stalls in preparation to close for the day. Monks were walking towards watts for afternoon prayer. But as the majority of Cambodia’s inhabitants were engrossed in the tasks of daily life, its government, without fanfare, took another step forward to install  the country’s most dictatorial, and most appalling, association law, seen in the nation’s post Pol Pot era. Continue reading

CIVICUS reaches out to the Caribbean

By Ciana-Marie Pegus

On Friday 12 August, CIVICUS hosted a lively discussion organised by teleconference on strengthening civil society and citizen action in the Caribbean. Seasoned civil society experts and dynamic young people came together to share their concerns and aspirations for the region.

CIVICUS Board Member and regional ambassador Amsale Maryam, Chairperson of the Jamaican Association of Development Agencies, welcomed the participants and reflected on both the diversity of the Caribbean as a multilingual, pluri-ethnic region with different political structures and levels of development and the commonality of the challenges faced by the Caribbean as small island states in the 21st century. The need for a development strategy in line with citizens’ interests was highlighted by insightful presentations delivered by friends of CIVICUS in the region. Continue reading

CIVICUS World Assembly: Are you ready for Montreal?

In Johannesburg and in Montreal, the CIVICUS World Assembly team has all but forgotten what their families and friends look like, but as the clock ticks down to the global event, its attendance list reads like a who’s who of the civil society “world.”

It’s official. It’s now exactly one month until an expected 900 plus civil society enthusiasts descend on the cobbled streets of Montreal for the CIVICUS World Assembly. Specialised workshop sessions have risen to 48, nearly double the number the event has held before. Accommodation in the Canadian city has been all but booked up under names like Google, Al Jazeera, the World Bank, UNDP, Oxfam and ActionAid among many others. Continue reading

The path towards a post-2015 MDG framework: a rapidly changing picture

By Leo Williams, International Coordinator of Beyond 2015

It took the world some ten years to agree on the Millennium Declaration. A team of mostly UN experts then took a year to formulate the 8 MDGs, with 18 targets and 48 indicators.

With less than four years until 2015, international negotiations on a post-MDG global framework have not yet started in earnest, despite 87% of respondents to a recent civil society survey want “some kind of overarching, internationally agreed framework for development after 2015″ (CAFOD’s ‘100 voices’ report)

Civil society has come together on a global level to discuss this framework, and the process to arrive there, via Beyond 2015, an international campaign aiming to influence the creation of this framework. Certain governments (notably the Dutch and the German) have started to discuss the issue and have specific positions, which is welcome. Others seem inclined to resist engaging in post-2015 discussions, for fear of endangering what will happen pre-2015.

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View from Zimbabwe: Getting smart with activism

By Amanda Atwood, Kubatana.net, Harare, Zimbabwe

At around midday on Wednesday 20 July, around 30 leading civil society activists and social media commentators convened online, speaking at length about a sustainable path forward to bridge the gap between online activists and civil society organisations (CSOs). The latter, that there is a gap that needs to be bridged between traditional CSOs and online activists, being unequivocally agreed.   Continue reading

CIVICUS reaches out to Caribbean

As CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation pilots its outreach efforts in the Caribbean, CIVICUS Board Member and regional ambassador Amsale Maryam attended the Commonwealth/Caribbean Regional Civil Society Consultation in Eastern Demerara, Guyana. Over fifty representatives of ten island nations were present, with participants coming from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as from the prominent regional and international institutions. Continue reading

The road to a free civil society in Nepal: An uphill battle

By Ramesh Man Tuladhar, Nepal Earth Society

It has been six weeks since the major political parties decided at the last minute to extend the tenure of the Constituent Assembly (CA) by three months.  The parties that kept the nation on tenterhooks until the very last minute did not seem to mind that the five-point deal they signed was ambiguous, and that there would be problems in implementing it. The parties seemed to have agreed to the deal out of sheer desperation and frustration rather than by any genuine intention to implement it. They may have asked themselves what would happen if the CA term were to expire and what the fate of the country would be when there is no elected body in place at the national level. Continue reading

Don’t forget Uzbekistan

By Will Lasky, Eurasia Project Coordinator, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Every week, we receive graphic accounts of torture and arbitrary detention in Uzbekistan. These are usually associated in some way with the chaotic Andijan events of 2005 when government troops opened fire on those protesting the prosecution of 23 local businessmen on extremist charges. The only consistent fact about this event which has been put forward in narratives ranging from that of a prison break, a hostage taking crises, a peaceful protest, are the deaths of hundreds. Continue reading

South African Civil Society, Climate Change and COP 17

By Mandeep S. Tiwana, Policy Manager, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

This week CIVICUS participated in a strategic planning and report back meeting organised by the C 17 South African civil society coalition. The coalition – formed in the run to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) meeting on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – brings together diverse society actors under a common platform to represent people’s and communities’ concerns when world leaders meet in Durban in November-December this year to work out agreement on addressing runaway climate change. Continue reading