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International Civic Forum: Anti-rights groups on the rise: How can we jointly address this challenge?

  • Online
  • Day 1
    30th November 2021
    2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Day 2
    1st December 2021
    2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Event Time in Central European Time (CET). Registrations are now closed.

Although the state apparatus continues to be the main actor imposing restrictions on civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists, non-state actors also play a relevant role in restricting space for civil society and threats and attacks from them are on the rise. Anti-rights groups represent a distinct category of non-state actors as they position themselves as part of civil society but attack fundamental and universal human rights.

The anti-right groups are not a new phenomenon, however, as the 2019 CIVICUS report shows, they have risen in prominence and are achieving unprecedented levels of influence and impact. Therefore, it is necessary to understand better where anti-right groups come from, what tactics they use, how they exploit crisis, and what impact they have in order to develop effective strategies to counter them. Rather than being only reactive and defensive, a futures aspect needs to be added to develop long(er)-term strategies and provide support and solidarity to targeted peers and partners.

Convened in partnership with the Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society (FICS), the ICF 2021 will offer you a unique opportunity to discuss the issue with experts in the field, learn about useful strategies and exchange with your peers.

The ICF will be a closed virtual event providing a safe space for exchange. We will alternate between different formats to enable rich and outcome-oriented discussions. Formats will include panel discussions as well as breakout sessions.

Concept note

Event Outline

Day 1: 30 November 2021, 2:00 – 5:00 pm CET

  • Challenges posed by anti-rights groups and their impact on rights-based civil society

We need to understand better what challenges anti-rights groups pose and what impact they have. Anti-rights groups are not a homogeneous group and we need to scrutinise who they are, how they exploit crisis and how they strategise from the local and national to regional and international levels.

  • Online space as a breeding ground for attacks from anti-rights groups

Anti-rights groups often mobilise online and use social media in similar ways as rights-based civil society actors. Online space makes it easier for them to organise and is a breeding ground for targeted threats and attacks. Therefore, we’ll pay particular attention to challenges and impact they have in the online space.

Day 2: 1 December 2021, 2:00 – 5:00 pm CET

  • Sharing experience and learning from good practices

ICSOs and CSOs that have been targeted by anti-rights groups developed response strategies and resilience mechanisms to address them, built coalitions and engaged with relevant stakeholders. We’ll learn from good practices and encourage experience sharing.

  • Strengthening solidarity and taking actions

We’ll explore how we can act in solidarity with those being targeted, what avenues could be used or created, and how we can come together to jointly address anti-rights groups.