INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY WEEK, BELGRADE, 8-12 APRIL 2019

Brunei’s Shariah Code & the New Stone Age

Over a week ago – on April 3 – Brunei, the tiny South East Asian kingdom on the island of Borneo, announced its citizens would face the full force of the Shariah law.

From Empowerment During War, Eritrean Women Must Fight Gender Discrimination in a New Peace

As the first anniversary of the swearing on Ethiopia’s Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed rolled around last week, Ethiopians – and observers worldwide – marvelled at the pace and scale of radical reform he has brought to the formerly repressed country in the past year.

Civil Society Under Attack in Name of Counterterrorism

Counterterrorism measures are not only affecting extremist groups, but are also impacting a crucial sector for peace and security in the world: civil society.

Hard Battle Ahead for Independent Arab Media

Sometimes a peak into the future reminds us just how stuck we are in the past and present. It was the talk of the Middle East’s largest annual media industry gathering: a robot journalist – the region’s first – that wowed some 3,000 industry leaders and practitioners at the Arab Media Forum (AMF) in Dubai recently.

Civil Society, Press Freedom & Human Rights Under Attack in Africa

The civic space in several African countries, including Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Sudan, Mozambique, Somalia and Eritrea, is gradually shrinking – and mostly under authoritarian leaders and repressive regimes.

Shining a Spotlight on the Strengths & Challenges of Civil Society in the Balkans

It is an incredible privilege to welcome you all to the ‘International Civil Society Week’. I am going to remind us of the reasons that make it so important for us to be here in Belgrade this week.

No Story Worth Dying For?

“Stay safe. There’s no story worth dying for.” That’s the message to journalists from Nada Josimovic, programme coordinator of Amsterdam-based media rights organisation Free Press Unlimited.

Attacks on Media in the Balkans Sound Alarm Bells for Democracy

Anti-government protesters invading Serbia’s state-owned television station, demanding that their voices be heard. Journalism bodies writing to the Albanian prime minister over plans to censor online media outlets. A Belgrade corruption-busting reporter forced to flee his house that had been torched; a Montenegrin investigative journalist shot in the leg outside her home.

Smears, Laws, Lack of Cooperation: Tools Against Activists

The murder of Brazilian politician and human rights activist Marielle Franco just over a year ago and attacks on other rights activists around the world have galvanised civil society organisations, with the United Nations heightening its own strategy to protect rights defenders.

Civil Society, Once the “World’s New Superpower,” is Battling Against Heavy Odds

A former UN Secretary-General, the late Kofi Annan, once described civil society organizations (CSOs), as “the world’s new superpower” – perhaps ranking behind the US and the former Soviet Union.

Rise in Cyberlaws Across Southeast Asia Spell Bad News for Human Rights & Democracy

Around the globe, cyberspace has become the new battleground in the fight for the heart and soul of democracy. And Southeast Asia is fast becoming one of the global hotspots where the screws are being tightened on freedom of expression online.

NGOs Blast US for Undermining Criminal Court

As it paves a destructive path against international institutions and multilateralism, the Trump administration is slowly but steadily undermining the United Nations and its affiliated agencies.

Civil Society Leaders Meet Amid Protests, Attacks on Rights

Amid rising attacks on rights campaigners, and mass protests in countries such as France and Serbia, civil society groups are urging governments to ensure the protection of “democratic values” and freedom of expression.

In Diverse Southeast Asia, Growing Ethnic & Religious Intolerance Pose Serious Threat to Stability

When the one-year anniversary of Malaysia’s historic presidential election outcome rolls around in early May, the wave of euphoria that followed it will be all but a wistful memory.

Women Activists Protest Torture & Imprisonment Under Repressive Regimes

Faced with an uneven battle against right wing nationalist governments, repressive regimes and extremist groups, scores of civil society organizations (CSOs) are gearing themselves to fight back.

Grassroots Organising Points the way in Fight Against Rising Repression

“I never thought it would get so big and I think it is amazing.” The words of a 16-year-old Swedish teenager who skipped school to protest outside her government’s inaction on climate change. Greta Thunberg is marvelling at how, in just a few short months, her solitary protests outside Sweden’s parliament, have inspired and united hundreds of thousands of young people and others across the globe into a powerful, growing grassroots movement for climate change action.

Human Rights Defenders Need to be Defended as Much as they Defend our Rights

They are ordinary people – mothers, fathers, sisters, sons, daughters, brothers, friends. But for me they are extraordinary people – the ones who have the courage to stand up for everyone else’s rights. They are the human rights defenders.

Civil Society Organisations Under Attack by Rightwing Governments & Extremist Groups

The widespread political repression in countries such as the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia-- and rising right-wing nationalism in the US, Brazil, Italy, India, Poland and Hungary-- have increasingly triggered attacks on human rights and civil society organisations (CSOs).