Closing civic space eases creeping authoritarianism


The closing of civic space has become a defining feature of political life in an ever-increasing number of countries, according to Civil Society Under Assault: Repression and Responses, a new report from Saskia Brechenmacher, an associate fellow in Carnegie’s Democracy and Rule of Law Program.

Cultivating civil society is perhaps the best antidote to creeping authoritarianism, according to Yale University historian Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

The CSIS’s Human Rights Initiative has launched the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), which convenes scholars and experts from around the world to conduct research and develop concrete recommendations on how best to address and push back on closing space around civil society:

iCon, through its diverse membership, provides cutting-edge, policy-oriented research that identifies the specific drivers of closing space and new and effective ways in which donors, civil society, think tanks, multilateral organizations, and the private sector can protect and enlarge the space for civil society. The website offers a platform for iCon members to exchange ideas and disseminate research findings and recommendations to a broad and diverse global audience. It includes two new essays by iCon members, Charles Kojo Vandyck and Peter Kreko, on current challenges and opportunities for civil society in Africa and Hungary, respectively. Going forward, this website will serve as a central hub for action-oriented research and analysis on the global phenomenon of closing space.

Members of the Advisory Group play an instrumental role in providing strategic guidance to CSIS on the work of iCon and on the overall direction of research. The Advisory Group also ensures that the research that is generated by iCon is transmitted to key constituencies around the world.


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