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Civic Space

OGP members are working to uphold basic freedoms of expression, assembly, and association even as these human rights are under global attack.

See the Guide to Open Government and the Coronavirus: Civic Space »

Explore our list of Actions to Protect and Enhance Civic Space »

Explore recommendations, partners, commitments, and recent posts in specific policy areas:

Sergel Square, Stockholm Sweden.” Photo by Pavel L Photo and Video /


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 July 2021, 44 OGP countries have made commitments to protect civic space. Current reporting on these commitments suggest that they are outperforming other policy areas.

Member uptake has decreased over the past years, with only 11 members implementing civic space commitments in their 2019 and 2020 action plans.

According to analysis in 2019, in OGP, 58 percent of OGP member 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.

As part of the 2021 OGP Co-Chair Call-to-Action, this menu of suggested actions highlights ideas for OGP members to advance through their upcoming OGP action plans. The menu features recommendations across the three civic freedoms – freedom of assembly, association and expression – along with cross-cutting recommendations.

Defending Journalists and Activists

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. 

Freedom of Assembly

Peaceful assembly is essential to healthy and effective democratic institutions. OGP members are sharing best practices and experiences to protect this fundamental human right.

Freedom of Association

OGP members allow for the free operation of advocates and reformers to form non-profit, mission-driven organizations.

Open Government Partnership