Creating and maintaining civil society space


Creating and maintaining civil society space

15 July 2016

In its resolution 27/31, the Human Rights Council, recognizing the crucial importance of the active involvement of civil society, at all levels, in promoting good governance, including through transparency and accountability, which is indispensable for building peaceful, prosperous and democratic societies, requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a compilation of practical recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society, based on good practices and lessons learned.

To this end, on 28 April 2015, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) sent notes verbales to Member States, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and international and regional organizations, followed by a reminder on 8 July 2015. A total of 89 responses were received, demonstrating the importance given to the issues addressed in resolution 27/31.1

The present report reflects input from all regions, based on contributions received from Member States, national human rights institutions and diverse civil society actors, including international and regional networks, academics and faith-based organizations, as well as United Nations and regional entities.

In a context of shrinking civil society space worldwide, it is important to share practices that highlight the benefits of creating and maintaining an enabling environment for civil society. In the present report the High Commissioner focuses on examples of proactive practices that optimize civil society’s transformative potential.2 He identifies five ingredients which are essential in this regard: a robust legal framework compliant with international standards and a strong national human rights protection system that safeguards public freedoms and effective access to justice; a political environment conducive to civil society work; access to information; avenues for participation by civil society in policy development and decision-making processes; and long-term support and resources for civil society.

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