Spaces for Change: From informal networks and collaboration to the Action Group for Free Civic Space in Nigeria

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondor

The Action Group on Free Civic Space in Nigeria works to co-create a unified sector position and voice to defend civic space against security-induced restrictions.

Read the summary and find the full case study at the bottom of the page.

About the coalition

What launched the coalition? Successive proposed Bills focused on restricting internet freedoms, NGO operations, terrorism financing and anti-money laundering measures.
Who are the members? A cross-sector and cross-regional movement of 61 national organisations and ICSO country offices.
How does it work? This started as an informal, loose network, but has now crystallised into a formal group with a coordinating team, regular meetings and online communications.

Coalition action

Outcomes The coalition built solidarity to ensure that government regulations (framed around national security, anti-money laundering (AML) and countering terrorism financing (CFT)) do not shrink civic space. Within a short time, the coalition grew in strength in numbers, shared expertise and research and built capacity amongst individual activists/bloggers, and created good working relationships with national and international AML/CFT regulators.
Challenges Creating a sense of common ownership for a sector-wide response; balancing inclusion with other considerations e.g. expertise.
Lessons learned It is vital to create a sense of ownership and buy-in, by driving coordination with a ‘back-end’ team.

Get the case study

Background to our Pilot Solidarity Playbook Case Studies

This case study is one of six that reviews best practices, challenges, and lessons learned for both ICSO internal mechanisms and coalition responses to scrutiny and attacks. They show positive outcomes and new practices that were initially triggered by an undue threat or attack.

Written by Sarah Pugh and Deborah Doane, these case studies first appeared in an in-house study called “Solidarity in Times of Scrutiny” presented at the International Civic Forum in Addis Ababa in October 2019.

Thanks go to our case study partners for making their learnings available to a larger readership.

The presented case studies reflect the status of when they were first written up in October 2019. Naturally, the political situation as well as the organisations’ and coalitions’ learnings have since evolved and are constantly evolving.


Eva Gondor

Senior Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva leads on the Centre's civic space work - the Solidarity Action Network (SANE) aimed at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors, and the International Civic Forum (ICF), our annual civic space platform to network and identify opportunities for collaboration. Prior to joining the Centre she worked at the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Foundation) in Stuttgart where she managed the foundation’s projects focusing on civil society and governance in Turkey, the Western Balkans, and North Africa.