Governments must not stifle civil society: INGO seminar in Brussels

Conference of INGOs Brussels 28 February 2020
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Governments must not stifle civil society: INGO seminar in Brussels

Be sure to watch live the Council of Europe’s Conference of INGOs celebration of World NGO Day, to highlight the importance of civil society as an essential democratic actor, but one which faces too many restrictions today.

Held at the Council of Europe’s Brussel’s office, “From the Past to the Future: A Living Civic Space for Living Democracy” gathers some 50 people representing NGOs, international organisations, independent human rights institutions and advocates, think tanks and media. They all call for reinforcement of freedom of association in member states and the need to develop effective tools to prevent violations of this fundamental right. Alexandrina Najmowicz, Director of the European Civic Forum will outline the latest Civic Space Watch Report (2019) that details the many challenges faced by NGOs in this regard. 

Several participants showcase civil society challenges in their own countries. For example, Adam Bodnar, Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland, assesses how the legal status, staffing, membership and funding sources of Ombudspersons institutions affect their work. The co-founder of the Yellow Vest movement in France, Priscillia Ludosky, assesses whether the lack of clear structure or leadership in the Gilets Jaunes leaves it too vulnerable to appropriation or misrepresentation by others. Ukrainian activist Maryna Khromykh, co-ordinator of the initiative Who ordered Katya Handziuk’s death? assesses any progress in the investigation of the murder of civic activist Katya Handziuk.

“At a time when populism is placing liberal democracy in a critical situation, the work of NGOs should be all the more recognized and protected,” says Anna Rurka, president of the Council of Europe’s INGO Conference. 

4-6 April Strasbourg (European Youth Centre)

International Roma Day

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