civil society

Can INGOs push back against closing civic space? Only if they change their approach.

Duncan Green - October 13, 2017

Guest post from Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS. He can be found on social media@civicussg  Civil society is facing a sustained, multi-faceted, global onslaught. According to the CIVICUS Monitor, fundamental civic freedoms are being severely restricted in an unprecedented number of countries. The operating environment for civil society organisations is becoming more hostile across the world and many of us in the organised bits of …

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What is really going on within ‘shrinking civil society space’ and how should international actors respond?

Duncan Green - June 28, 2017

Good conversation (Chatham House Rule) last week on the global crackdown on civil society organizations (CSOs) and what to do about it. I was expecting a fairly standard ‘it’s all terrible; international NGOs must take action, speak truth to power etc’ discussion, but it was actually much more interesting and nuanced than that. While it is undoubtedly true, and horrible, that governments around the world …

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What is new/the same about the world’s new civic activist movements?

Duncan Green - May 10, 2017

Bumped into Tom Carothers in the DFID foyer the other day, and he handed me a copy of a fascinating new Carnegie Endowment Report, Global Civic Activism in Flux. Late last year, Carnegie set up a Civic Activism Network that brought together 8 national experts on new forms of citizen activism in Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine, who each contributed chapters. …

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Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

Duncan Green - May 3, 2017

Guest post by Gopa Kumar Thampi of The Asia Foundation There is a clearly a surge in social accountability initiatives across the globe today. From informal expressions at the grassroots to entrenched voices in corridors of power, the social accountability multiverse has become stronger and diverse. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are indeed witnessing the rise of an ‘audit society’ that animates …

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Why is Africa’s Civil Society under Siege?

Duncan Green - December 15, 2016

Oxfam’s Ross Clarke (Governance and Legal Adviser ) and Desire Assogbavi (Resident Representative & Head of Office, Oxfam International Liaison Office to the African Union) introduce a new analysis of the threats to African civil society After years on the margins of the mainstream development agenda, addressing civic space is finally getting the attention it deserves. If the number of policy initiatives, conferences and campaigns …

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What role for local actors in system change? Fighting climate change in the UK

Duncan Green - November 29, 2016

Ruth Mayne, Oxfam’s senior researcher on the effectiveness of influencing, reflects on some personal influencing she was involved with before (re)joining Oxfam. In the development world we often emphasise the importance of strengthening community action but is it really possible for local, rather than national and international, actors to contribute to system change? And if so, why and how does this happen, and under what …

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Why/how should corporates defend civil society space? Good new paper + case studies

Duncan Green - October 19, 2016

I saw some effective academic-NGO cooperation last week, and even better, it involved some of my LSE students. The occasion was the launch of Beyond Integrity: Exploring the role of business in preserving civil society space, commissioned and published by the Charities Aid Foundation and written by Silky Agrawal, Brooks Reed and Riya Saxena, three of last year’s LSE Masters students. They researched and wrote …

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A successful project to wean southern civil society organizations off aid

Duncan Green - August 10, 2016

I’ve previously lamented the aid industry’s lack of interest in building up the domestic fundraising capacity of local organizations and suggested we need a ‘Fundraisers Without Borders’. Turns out something along those lines is already happening. A note in a recent edition of Development in Practice by Robert Wiggers of the Dutch Wild Geese Foundation (WGF) describes its Action for Children (AfC) programme in four …

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Is Disruption a good thing? Let’s ask Southern Civil Society leaders for a change.

Duncan Green - May 12, 2016

Disruption is cool in the development chattersphere right now, and that may not be a good thing – what if the thing being disrupted is actually useful or valuable? Do you want your marriage/home/body/ cat disrupted? Thought not. Organizations doing good work don’t necessarily have to be innovative (what about practice makes perfect?); good partners don’t have to be new and funky. Above all, poor …

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A crunch point for Indian civil society – what are the options?

Duncan Green - April 29, 2016

Second installment on last week’s India visit. Vlog from Lucknow and a debate with Oxfam India’s Vanita Suneja   In the rolling, 16 hour-a-day seminar that is a field trip, one topic kept coming up in my conversations in India last week. Many civil society organizations feel beleaguered. As the Indian economy booms, the foreign aid agencies on which many CSOs have come to depend …

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