MIL-OSI Economics: Transparency International joins eight CSOs to sign landmark partnership to promote an enabling environment for civil society globally 

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Source: Transparency International

The EU System for an Enabling Environment for Civil Society (EU SEE) program seeks to support civil society to thrive by preventing efforts to restrict civic space and hinder the important work of civil society organisations.   

  • Agreement signed by Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships in the European Commission, together with civil society leaders
  • The program named the EU System for an Enabling Environment (EU SEE) will be implemented by 9 civil society organisations with a global outreach across 4 continents 
  • EU SEE seeks to anticipate and address threats to civil society in 86 countries across the globe, providing timely information to networks and the EU to facilitate advocacy actions
  • It provides financial support mechanisms to civil society organisations including those most marginalised in decision making processes 

A new partnership between the European Union and a consortium of nine civil society organisations (CSOs) has been signed today by EU Commissioner for International Partnerships in the European Commission, Jutta Urpilainen, alongside several CSO leaders.

EU SEE aims to promote an enabling environment for civil society in 86 countries across the globe. Led by civil society, this innovative mechanism brings together national, regional, and global networks to monitor laws and administrative practices, as well as the digital and media environments that provide the context for civil society operations.   

In countries where participating monitors issue alerts on restrictive actions, EU SEE will aim to provide funds and activate solidarity networks to help local organisations mount campaigns or strengthen their internal systems to withstand threats to their operations.

EU SEE begins its work in 2024 as a creative response to the ever-increasing restrictions on civic space. Across the world, in both authoritarian states and established democracies, citizens engaged collectively in policy, advocacy, and community work frequently face diverse restrictions on their rights to form associations and organise or are prevented from expressing their views freely. From repressive NGO laws aimed at cutting off civil society funding, to administrative red tape, CSOs face a range of obstacles, find their knowledge and expertise disregarded and are excluded from decision-making processes. 

Through a chain of actions encompassing monitoring at the national level, leading to the issue of early warnings, which in turn inform timely support to groups in need, EU SEE aims to support civil society’s response in preventing and proactively responding to legal and policy developments and other events that may impact their ability to operate.

The project has been designed with the broad participation of partner NGOs, and it aims to reach a diverse set of groups, such as those outside of main capitals and those representing marginalised communities, including CSOs headed by women, youth, and other vulnerable groups.

The partner CSOs have a wealth of experience monitoring, protecting and strengthening civic space with members or chapters in over 190 countries. The organisations implementing the program are CIVICUS, Democracy Reporting International, European Partnership for Democracy, Forus, Hivos, Oxfam Novib (Oxfam), Protection International, Transparency International and Urgent Action Fund – Latin America and the Caribbean (UAF-LAC). 

Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said:

“Civil society is a key partner for the European Union in delivering sustainable impact for communities through EU external action. With civil society partners, we promote democratic civic space, which is essential for the successful roll-out of our Global Gateway investment strategy. I am proud that we can launch together the new EU System for an Enabling Environment for Civil Society programme. It will help civil society to monitor potential restrictions on civic space, raise the alarm and respond proactively to threats to democracy.”

Chief Executive Officer of Transparency International, Daniel Eriksson said:

Safeguarding civic space must be at the forefront of the anti-corruption agenda. The EU SEE partnership represents a crucial step in ensuring that civil society organisations can carry out their essential work without fear of repression. By empowering them, we are enhancing our joint capacity to hold power accountable and drive systemic change.”

About the EU SEE program

The EU SEE program comprises two main components designed to address these challenges. The first one seeks to set up and implement a civil society monitoring index and Early Warning Mechanism that would detect situations where the enabling environment is deteriorating or improving; it is led by Hivos. The second complementary component of the system responds with flexible and timely financial support for civil society organisations through its Flexible Support Mechanism; which is led by Oxfam. This mechanism supports civil society to advocate for a sustained enabling environment, develop systems of resilience, and protect organisations and individuals. By detecting restrictions on time and responding pre-emptively, the system will contribute to the creation of a supportive environment for civil society to operate. 

The EU System for an Enabling Environment for Civil Society is funded by the European Commission. For more information about EU activities in support of Enabling Environment see Capacity4Dev.

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MIL OSI Economics