December 10, 2016 By James Savage, Program Officer at the Fund for Global Human Rights, and Iva Dobichina at Open Society Foundations. This post originally appeared in the Guardian; article reposted with permission. In 2018 we will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which recognises the role and guarantees the […]
What happens when an opportunity arises that activists didn’t expect? Or when an unforeseen threat endangers their work - or even their personal safety? The Fund for Global Human Rights stands ready to support our grantees both in moments of tragedy and insecurity, as well as in times of new growth.
An Activist’s Response to the UN Special Rapporteur’s Call to End Violence Against Environmental Human Rights Defenders
November 1, 2016 By Claudia Virginia Samayoa, founder and coordinator Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala (UDEFEGUA). Translated from Spanish by Lydia Cocom. Fund grantee UDEFEGUA works every day to protect human rights defenders in Guatemala – an increasingly difficult feat as violence against activists escalates. In this […]
Close on the heels of the UN adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the upcoming HABITAT III conference offers the international community a timely opportunity to revisit and revision its commitments to putting human rights at the heart of sustainable urban development. However, the encompassing of human rights into the international development agenda and the timing of HABITAT III come at a point where human rights activists have never been under greater attack. Does this mean that co-operation and collaboration between government and civil society in the advent of the closing space for civil society is no longer feasible?
Around the globe, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things to promote and protect human rights, and the Fund was set up to support these individuals and be a lifeline to them in times of need. In the face of powerful adversaries, and with minimal resources, frontline human rights defenders are forced to be innovative. This work is extremely dangerous, and many groups, who often work without basic security measures, routinely find themselves at risk of attack, and even death.
The global governance frameworks around counterterrorism and international development have framed the role, value and impact of civil society as a critical ally but also, more recently, as a threat. At best, donor governments have acknowledged civil society as a key partner in fostering development, peace and security. At worst, some aid recipient governments have sought to limit the role of development and human rights groups only to delivering public services, or they view civil society as an enabler for funding terrorist groups. Yet there are opportunities for civil society actors to use counterterrorism and development policies and processes to their advantage.
Over the past several years, internationally engaged foundations have faced unprecedented challenges from governments around the world. This is just one element of the ‘closing space’ or the ‘disabling environment’ for international philanthropy. Whatever you name it, there are forces at work that are challenging the very existence of civil society.
Dozens of governments are adopting means to limit the activities of NGOs and impede their access to foreign funds. Beijing, for example, just passed a law that restricts the activities of foreign NGOs and subjects them to police investigation. Unfortunately, the Chinese communist party is just one of many governments to do so. Indeed, this law is part of a robust, international trend of similar legislation implemented by politicians that fear the interference of foreigners as well as civil society’s unprecedented capacity to mobilize — which is due in part to new technologies.
March 3, 2016 Today at approximately midnight, Berta Caceres, the General Coordinator of Fund grantee Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras – COPINH), was murdered in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house […]
“Challenging the Closing Space for Civil Society – A Practical Starting Point for Funders” is a resource produced by Ariadne, the European Foundation Centre, and the International Human Rights Funders Group for funders on responding to the closing space phenomenon. This resource is drawn from a document written by our Poonam Joshi, Director of the […]