Civic space is the underpinning for open government. Yet, it is eroding globally. According to CIVICUS, only four percent of the world’s population now live in countries with open civic space.
As of August 2019, 38 OGP countries have made commitments to protect civic space. Current reporting on these commitments suggest that they are outperforming other policy areas.
However, despite this encouraging news and the fact that OGP countries have better records protecting civic space than non-OGP countries, challenges remain.
In OGP, 58 percent of countries report issues related to harassment of activists and journalists. In nearly half of OGP countries, civil society organizations lack of access to funding and face barriers through tax regulations. In 52 percent of OGP countries, there are reports of excessive use of police during public protests, as well as the use of surveillance and personal data to target organizations, journalists, and human rights defenders. In 45 percent of OGP countries, there are problems with censorship or online discrimination.
Without engaged citizens and strong civil society organizations, open government can not achieve its fundamental purpose. To support countries to protect civic space, OGP works to: strengthen the co-creation process, which serves as an important dialogue platform between government and civil society; coordinate with a range of partners to help countries develop ambitious commitments to protect civic space and prevent back-sliding on human rights; and mobilize a coalition of civil society and government champions who lead and promote ideas on advancing civic space efforts.
Journalists and activists are critical intermediaries connecting public officials with citizens and serving as government watchdogs. OGP members are committed to helping protect their rights and safety.
Peaceful assembly is essential to healthy and effective democratic institutions. OGP members are sharing best practices and experiences to protect this fundamental human right.