The Future of Civil Society Organisations – Foreword by Wolfgang Jamann and Ignacio Packer

7th May 2020 by Wolfgang Jamann

Find The Future of Civil Society Organisations Document at the bottom of page

The Future is unwritten. Yet, the current challenges and opportunities brought by the COVID-19 pandemic call for a conversation over the transformations we want to see in society, and in the humanitarian, social justice and environmental sector. In this publication, a group of leaders of civil society networks and platforms share their observations and thoughts, identifying possible directions that civil society organisations may want to go.

You will read their views on how the ways we work and organise need to be adapted and made more agile to keep pace with people’s expectations. It is about shifting power, bridging divides and transforming society with a sense of acceleration, caused by the current crisis.

What you will read is both challenging and exciting.

The COVID-19 pandemic can re-energise the demands of civil society organisations to put people at the heart of the changes we need: to protect the planet from degradation, to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives, that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature and fosters peaceful, just and inclusive societies. As conveners of influential networks and platforms, jointly we represent thousands of civil society organisations which work with, and on behalf of, millions of people who are being marginalised and deprived of their human and civic rights. We are determined to mobilise and lead collectively, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the rights of those left furthest behind.

Wolfgang Jamann and Ignacio Packer

The Future of Civil Society Organisations (PDF)

Wolfgang Jamann

Executive Director

International Civil Society Centre

Dr. Wolfgang Jamann is Executive Director of the International Civil Society Centre. Until January 2018 he was Secretary General and CEO of CARE International (Geneva). Before that he led NGO Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and the Alliance 2015, a partnership of 7 European aid organisations. From 2004-2009 he was CEO & Board member of CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg and President of the CARE Foundation. Previously, he worked for World Vision International as a regional representative in East Africa (Kenya) & Head of Humanitarian Assistance at WV Germany. After his Ph.D. dissertation in 1990 he started his career in development work at the German Foundation for International Development, later for the UNDP in Zambia. As a researcher and academic, he has published books and articles on East & Southeast Asia contributing to international studies on complex humanitarian emergencies and conflict management.

ActionAid and ActionAid Uganda: How to scenario-plan for attacks and the narrowing of civic space

30th April 2020 by Eva Gondorová

ActionAid, a global justice federation, developed scenario-planning and rapid response mechanisms to address growing hostilities in some countries, for example to react to raids on its office and freezing of its accounts in Uganda.

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

Actions taken by the organisation

What was the trigger? Growing hostilities in multiple countries noted by ActionAid Federation (2013).
What was the internal response?Federation put together Working Groups on closing space and institutional resilience, in order to develop solutions.
What measures were taken at the national level?Country offices received training and support to build resilience.

Response carried out in practice

What was the trigger? Raid on ActionAid Uganda Office and bank accounts frozen due to their position on legal reforms (2017).
What was the response?Scenario-planning and contingencies put in place; responses were deployed on political, legal, financial and communications fronts.
What were the outcomes?Their bank accounts were unfrozen; ActionAid Uganda then integrated a civic space focus into their programmatic work.

Learnings collected by the organisation

OutcomesActionAid Uganda’s experience fed back to the Federation via a Learning Paper, and there are now resources and tools based on this.
ChallengesResources; staff and sector insecurity; long-term impact of propaganda.
LessonsAlways keep your house in order; ensure all staff understand all processes for consistency of message; a rapid legal response is necessary; good media relations are essential; be relevant to civil society and your constituencies; and be transparent.

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 Gondorová

Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva coordinates the project Solidarity Action Network (SANE) which aims at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors.

Solidarity Playbook: Discover and Learn from our Pilot Case Studies

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondorová

Solidarity and collaboration are among strongest tools we have to push back against clampdowns on civil society. These pilot case studies – initiated by the Solidarity Action Network (SANE) – showcase best practices, challenges, and lessons learned from organisational resilience mechanisms and coalition responses to scrutiny and attacks. They show positive outcomes and new practices developed by civil society organisations and coalitions.

There is clearly a need to move from reactive mode – responding to clampdowns – to a more formal prepared footing. Our strength will be in building on these case studies and ensuring that there are stronger organisational and sectoral responses as a whole.

Click on the pictures for a case study summary or find each complete case study to download below.

Case Studies on Coalition Responses

Case Studies on Organisational Resilience Mechanisms

 

Background to our Pilot Solidarity Playbook Case Studies

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.

We sincerely thank our case study partners for making their learnings available to a larger readership.

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

Click on the buttons to read a complete case study.

ActionAid case study

Civilisation case study

Spaces for Change case study

Vuka! case study

Greenpeace case study

Islamic Relief case study

 

Eva Gondorová

Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva coordinates the project Solidarity Action Network (SANE) which aims at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors.

Civilizáció (Civilisation): Coalition-building to fight back against government attacks on civil society in Hungary

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondorová

The Civilisation, a cross-sector coalition of Hungarian CSOs, came together to defend against government attacks on civil society.

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

About the coalition

What launched the coalition?Democratic backsliding, smear campaigns, and legislative reform concerning funding and registration of CSOs.
Who are the members?Approximately 30 national CSOs form the inner circle of the network; they range across different sectors.
How does it work?A part-time coordinator supports the work; regular in-person meetings occur; there are protocols on decision-making; email lists and info-sharing.

Coalition action

OutcomesMembers are now more resilient and better prepared for future threats; solidarity has been strengthend via the first cross-sector network in Hungary; they have conducted engagement with rural CSOs to try and undo the ‘chill factor’ of the government’s attacks.
ChallengesThe coalition was established in reaction to restrictions, and worked well in resistance; but how do you maintain collaboration in ‘standby’ mode?
Lessons learnedHow to cooperate, acknowledge different attitudes, approaches, appetites and agendas, and work with the diversity in a cross-sector coalition, as opposed to against it.

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 Gondorová

Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva coordinates the project Solidarity Action Network (SANE) which aims at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors.

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

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondorová

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

OutcomesThe 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.
ChallengesCreating a sense of common ownership for a sector-wide response; balancing inclusion with other considerations e.g. expertise.
Lessons learnedIt 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 Gondorová

Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva coordinates the project Solidarity Action Network (SANE) which aims at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors.

Vuka! – Building an international coalition to coordinate and enable civil society’s response to closing space

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondorová

With its Country Coordination Calls, Vuka!, a coalition of international, regional and national CSOs, manages country-level responses to closing space.

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

About the coalition

What launched the coalition?The recognised problem: how should international civil society respond to the global issue of closing civic space?
Who are the members?Approximately 160 organisations; a diverse range of international, regional and national CSOs.
How does it work?A coalition secretariat and a steering committee; country-focus across 6 action teams. Each member has equal footing to determine the coalition’s priorities.

Coalition action

OutcomesAdvocacy and campaigns enjoy greater reach thanks to the diverse membership; national engagement with international and regional bodies is facilitated; organic, bi-lateral connections have been enabled; creative and innovative initiatives incubated and stewarded by the action teams.
ChallengesHow do you maintain the momentum of country-level conversations?
How do you coordinate a response in ‘opening contexts’?
Lessons learnedTrust is essential (and enabled by secure platforms); coordination enables identification of key gaps and opportunities; this needs to be backed by ready resources and mechanisms.

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 Gondorová

Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva coordinates the project Solidarity Action Network (SANE) which aims at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors.

Islamic Relief Worldwide: Building a Reputational Risk Management Strategy in the face of Islamophobia-motivated attacks

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondorová

Facing Islamophobia-motivated attacks, Islamic Relief Worldwide, an independent humanitarian and development organisation, developed a strategy to manage reputational risks.

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

Actions taken by the organisation

What was the trigger? Designation as terrorist organisation in Israel and the UAE (2014).
What was the internal response?Reputational Risk Management Strategy, backed by new infrastructure and resources.
What measures were taken at the national level?Country offices received training and support to develop their own strategies.

Response carried out in practice

What was the trigger? Amendment proposed by US congressman to cut US funding to IRW (2017).
What was the response?Collective action taken by IRW, InterAction and the Together Project, including advocacy, political engagement and solidarity action.
What were the outcomes?The amendment was dropped, and their funding was left in tact. Learning has been applied to other contexts.

Learnings collected by the organisation

OutcomesIslamic Relief Worldwide is more prepared and resilient, and they have grown as an organisation since – and in spite of – the designations.
ChallengesCosts – legal and lobbyist fees are expensive; staff time is hard to commit to this additional effort on top of day-to-day work.
LessonsEngage with influencers over opponents; make friends while the sun shines and identify your key stakeholders; invest in saying who you are are rather than saying who you are not; fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Get the case study

Background to our Pilot Solidarity Playbook Case Studies

This case study is one of five 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 Gondorová

Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva coordinates the project Solidarity Action Network (SANE) which aims at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors.

Greenpeace International: Developing resilience to Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation suits through joint action

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondorová

Greenpeace International developed a proactive and collaborative response to the threat and damage of SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation) in the US and beyond.

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

Actions taken by the organisation

What was the trigger?Significant Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit filed against Greenpeace International in the USA (2016).
What was the internal response?Greenpeace International developed a SLAPP Resilience Strategy, recognising legal solutions were not enough.
What measures were taken at the national level?The strategy, developed with Greenpeace USA, involved outreach and engagement work in US.

Response carried out in practice

What was the trigger?A 2nd SLAPP suit was filed against Greenpeace International seeking almost $1 billion in damages (2017).
What was the response?Thanks in part to Greenpeace International’s engagement work, there was a huge backlash from civil society, and the Protect the Protest coalition was formed.
What were the outcomes?Both cases were dismissed (either in part or entirely); US civil society is now attuned to this tactic and responding collectively.

Learnings collected by the organisation

OutcomesGreenpeace International is now better prepared for SLAPPs, and has developed expertise and learning that can be applied elsewhere.
ChallengesEngaging other CSOs, and managing differences within a coalition.
LessonsWhen responding collectively to a specific restrictive tactic coordination is key for spotting opportunities and gaps; finding ways to enable easier participation e.g. by building efficient structures and processes, can help encourage joint action.

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 Gondorová

Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva coordinates the project Solidarity Action Network (SANE) which aims at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors.

Working Group Comes Together Virtually to Push Forward Solidarity Playbook Initiative

2nd April 2020 by Thomas Howie

The Working Group of the Solidarity Playbook came together virtually this week to shape the framework of the initiative and prove the ground for its first activities. The group emphasised that acts of solidarity between civil society actors and towards beneficiaries have gained importance in the current COVID-19 crisis.  

The Working Group consists of international and national civil society organisations around the world. They give strategic guidance to the building the initiative from their expertise on resilience and solidarity in times of crisis. In recent years, many civil society organisations in different countries have come under undue pressure. As a result, they have developed resilience mechanisms to protect themselves and their partners. Furthermore, there is a shared desire among them to learn from each other and actively support one another, acting in solidarity when an organisation from the community is under attack.

The idea of a Solidarity Playbook came from our Innovator’s Forum and interviews with international civil society organisation staff members. We further developed the idea at the International Civic Forum (ICF). During the two-day virtual meeting, the Working Group members showed a strong interest to move this initiative forward. In the next steps, the Solidarity Playbook will focus on collecting and sharing best practice and building a solidarity network.  

Eva Gondorová, the Solidarity Playbook Project Manager, said:

“I am happy to bring this group together virtually to discuss how we can support each other and show solidarity in difficult times. We can see the importance of solidarity at this time, as some governments attempt to overextend their powers and potentially undermine legitimate civil society voices and activities. All in the Working Group hold a strong interest and high commitment to carry on the Solidarity Playbook Initiative. The desire for concrete outcomes is what motivates us to continue our work.” 

 

,

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Centre events and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (last update: 2 April 2020)

12th March 2020 by Thomas Howie

The International Civil Society Centre is carefully watching the situation linked to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

As event organisers, we have a duty of care for all participants attending our events and to take measures to ensure a safe environment. We wish to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

Therefore, we have decided that all planned meetings will take place virtually for the forseeable. This impacts two forthcoming events:

We are working hard to adjust our planning. Project managers will communicate with participants on how this will work.

Events after mid-April: we will continue to monitor the situation and inform participants at the latest one month ahead of each meeting about any necessary changes.

If you have any questions concerning our events, please don’t hesitate to contact Ryan Stanton (rstanton@icscentre.org).

Useful links:

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre