Attacks on Civic and Democratic Space: Strategies and lessons from ActionAid's response

Across the world, in both democratic and non-democratic states, we are witnessing flagrant and relentless efforts to undermine democratic values. Individual human rights defenders and collective activism are facing pushback from states, corporations and extremist and fundamentalist groups. The trend of closing civic space, through laws and practices that restrict civil society's ability to operate, is undermining the ability of citizens to effectively advance human rights, hold their governments accountable, and serve vulnerable communities. Strikingly, this phenomenon of closing civic space is not limited to autocratic states but has spread to so-called democracies.

The aims of this survey were to:

  • document the nature of the shrinking civic space and the modalities of attacks on ActionAid countries.
  • support ActionAid and its allies and partners to understand and learn from how ActionAid countries have responded to the attacks.
  • strengthen organisational learning and resilience among ActionAid countries and other stakeholders in the face of shrinking civic and democratic space, through analysing their operating contextst and preparations to push back as well as take advantage of opportunities that emerge in such situations.
  • inform the development of a coordinated response by ActionAid countries, partners and allies to counter attempts being made to shrink civic and political space.