Defending Civil Society

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Defending Civil Society

Civil society groups – charities, faith-based organizations, trade unions, advocates and others outside government, family and commerce – have proven essential elements in fully functioning democracies. Perhaps for this very reason, these groups around the world face unprecedented assaults from authoritarian policies and governments on their autonomy, ability to operate, and right to receive international assistance. Recent years have witnessed proliferating efforts by various governments to restrict the space in which civil society organizations in general and democracy groups in particular operate.

The Defending Civil Society project is an ongoing effort to develop strategies and build solidarity among activists and groups pushing back against laws repressing nongovernmental organizations.
Defending Civil Society’s three goals are:

  • To enhance civil society space and protect civil society groups
  • To promote international principles that protect civil society and,
  • To inform proper government-civil society relations.

The Defending Civil Society project seeks to achieve its goals through the following:

  • Disseminating the Defending Civil Society Report;
  • Promoting the Defending Civil Society Principles;
  • Organizing regional and global discussions to develop practical strategies to improve legal environments;
  • Building up the capacity of civil society organizations worldwide to respond to legal restrictions;
  • Providing leadership in facilitating coordinated global responses to developments of restrictive legal measures.

Project Partner


The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law