Civic Space in the United Nations

September 18, 2017
Initiative Activity

UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Prof. Annalisa Ciampi, to speak at side event on expanding civic space within the United Nations during the United Nations Generally Assembly in New York in October 2017.

As national governments across the world impose greater restrictions on the rights to freedom of association, assembly, and expression, intergovernmental mechanisms, including the UN, are increasingly important in protecting human rights standards.  For civil society operating in countries with few national avenues to address human rights violations, the UN remains a vital conduit for seeking accountability.

However, institutional barriers within the UN prevent the full participation of civil society, failing to mitigate national democratic deficits. If the UN system is to succeed in addressing human rights violations, it must become more open to, and draw upon the strength of, a wider diversity of voices.

During the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Civic Space Initiative will host an event with the UNSR, civil society representatives, UN bodies, and State representatives to discuss the promotion of civic space in the UN system through responsive and inclusive mechanisms and processes. The discussion will focus on:

  • Identifying specific structural challenges to expanding civic space within the UN
  • Identifying existing best practice for civil society participation within the UN
  • Exploring opportunities to increase civil society’s voice in the UN