Stories written by Mandeep S.Tiwana

The Summit of the Future Is a Rare Chance to Fix a Broken System: Civil Society Must Be Included

Today, the spectre of a major regional conflict, and even a possible nuclear conflagration, looms large in the Middle East. Despite stark warnings issued by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, the multilateral system is struggling to resolve the very challenges it was supposed to address: conflict, impoverishment and oppression. In a deeply divided world, this September’s Summit of the Future offers a rare chance to fix international cooperation and make good on gaps in global governance.

The UN’s Own Relevance Is at Stake at This Year’s General Assembly

This September, world leaders and public policy advocates from around the world will descend on New York for the UN General Assembly. Alongside conversations on peace and security, global development and climate change, progress – or the lack of it – on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is expected to take centre-stage. A major SDG Summit will be held on 18 and 19 September. The UN hopes that it will serve as a ‘rallying cry to recharge momentum for world leaders to come together to reflect on where we stand and resolve to do more’. But are the world’s leaders in a mood to uphold the UN’s purpose, and can the UN’s leadership rise to the occasion by resolutely addressing destructive behaviours?

Civic Space – the Bedrock of Democracy – is Scarce & Contested

On 29 and 30 March, the US government, in partnership with Costa Rica, Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia, will co-host the second virtual Summit for Democracy. Several elected leaders and state representatives will come together to highlight achievements in advancing democratic principles.

Uyghur Violations a Litmus Test for Global Governance & Rules-based International Order

This week is a momentous one for the world’s premier human rights body. At stake is a resolution to decide whether the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva can hold a debate on a recently released UN report.

Cherish Not Vilify Indian Civil Society

Civil society has been described as the oxygen of democracy by no less than UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. As the world’s largest democracy, India has a proud history of inspiring people’s movements and non-profit organisations looked up to by social change advocates across the globe.

OPINION: Why South Africa Must Not Lose Plot on Civil Society

South Africa celebrated human rights month this March with President Zuma recalling the “heroism of our people who stood up for their rights.” However, this same month which commemorates the sacrifices of those who took part in the struggle against apartheid and those who died in the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960 was not a happy one for today’s civil society activists and organisations engaged in defending human rights. Two shocking incidents raise troubling questions for the future of civil society in the country.

Opinion: Why Are Threats to Civil Society Growing Around the World?

Whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are hounded – not by autocratic but by democratic governments – for revealing the truth about grave human rights violations. Nobel peace prize winner, writer and political activist Liu Xiaobo  is currently languishing in a Chinese prison while the killing of Egyptian protestor, poet and mother Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, apparently by a masked policeman, in January this year continues to haunt us. 

Opinion: Measurement Matters – Civic Space and the Post-2015 Framework

For those of us interested in a vibrant civil society, it seems to be best of times and the worst of times.

Civil Society Freedoms Merit Role in Post-2015 Development Agenda

Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, an advocacy NGO, is facing criminal charges for sending a tweet that said: “many Bahrain men who joined terrorism and ISIS have come from the security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator”.

Why Principle Matters at UN Human Rights Council

The killings of hundreds of civilians, including scores of children, in Gaza – whose only fault was to have been born on the wrong side of the wall – was a major point of contention at the United Nations Human Rights Council at the end of July.

Civil Society Under Attack Around the World

In December 2011, 159 governments and major international organisations recognised the central role of civil society in development and promised to create an “enabling” operating environment for the non-profit sector.

CAN BUSAN FORGE A NEW DEAL FOR AFRICA?

In the hope for a fairer deal on aid for the continent, African leaders are planning to present a unified position at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) in Busan, South Korea. Currently, discussions are underway between the African Union, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and private sector and civil society representatives on how to improve the impact of aid for the most vulnerable and marginalised. The outcome of these discussions will then be taken to Busan in November this year as the 'African Consensus and Position on Development Effectiveness'.

CAN EMERGING DEMOCRACIES CHALLENGE THE MORAL HEGEMONY OF WESTERN POWERS?

Interestingly, the website of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization proudly proclaims "NATO Allies decided on March 27 to take on the whole military operation in Libya under UN Security Council Resolution 1973." This sole claim of ownership over a UN-sponsored mandate by a military alliance is indeed worrying and begs the question whether international precedents are being established here to conflate a multi-lateral UN force with a NATO force.

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