Coronavirus a ‘catalyst for global civil society’?


The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact not only on government policies but also on societies, says a leading analyst. The crisis has played out at the public authority level and, equally, at the community and civil society levels. Somewhat unnoticed amid the focus on governments’ crisis responses, the coronavirus pandemic has sharpened and intensified the importance of organized civil society action, the Carnegie Endowment’s Richard Youngs notes. 

A new compilation of case studies, Global Civil Society in the Shadow of Coronavirus, which features several associates and partners of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), shows that the pandemic has acted as a powerful catalyst for global civil society, he writes:

In all regions, demand for civic activism has risen and new spaces have opened for civil society organizations (CSOs) to play prominent and multilevel roles in the crisis. The pandemic has given global civil society a new sense of urgency, unleashed a spirit of civic empowerment, and prompted CSOs to deepen their presence in local societies. In some countries, civic activism has had to move up a gear and assume stronger defensive strategies because regimes have used the pandemic to attack critical civil society voices.

The coronavirus pandemic period has seen heightened demand for, and an increased supply of, civic activism as well as a need for CSOs to push back against harsher government restrictions, Youngs contends. RTWT



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