Posts with the tag
“SANE”

Solidarity and freedom of expression – How can we protect and harness online spaces?

20th October 2021 by Sarah Pugh

Freedom of expression is a basic requirement for maintaining democracy and open societies where citizens are able to stay informed, express opinions and participate actively in public life. Over the summer the Solidarity Action Network (SANE) explored different aspects of freedom of expression through a series of curated conversations looking at the role that international civil society organisations (ICSOs) can play in protecting and increasing free expression and civic space, particularly in relation to digital space and freedoms. 

The first example came from Takura Zhangazha and Arthur Steiner from Hivos, who shared how Hivos has played an ‘incubator’ role in supporting young artists and makers to champion free expression, and to increase and even celebrate civic space. Through its R.O.O.M. Program Hivos has designed interventions that support young creatives, strengthening their resilience to remain critical and independent so that they can continue to challenge damaging narratives and shrinking civic space. Beyond the solidarity shown through this form of ‘incubation’ and direct support, Hivos has also made use of facilitation as a method of solidarity. The programme has facilitated the convening and connecting of young makers and creative hubs, enabling cross-fertilisation between these makers and other actors in support of Pan-African solidarity that can counter closing civic space. 

These forms of solidarity are brought to life through stories of R.O.O.M Program partners – in particular, the Magamba Network based in Zimbabwe. The network focuses on the arts, digital media, activism and innovation. It has opened up space for free expression online through supporting and incubating young bloggers and new media start-ups speaking truth to power, and has inspired the creation of other, similar hubs in Southern Africa. As one of its activities, the network has convened discussions around the topic of internet access and ownership, inviting makers and creative hubs across the region to discuss the rise in internet regulations, cyber-crime laws, internet shutdowns, and – in some countries – the increasingly prohibitive costs of internet access.

(Still from video: Who owns civic space? by Hivos featuring Magamba Network) 

How international actors can show solidarity through support to local civil society actors to maintain and defend freedom of expression online, and protect online civic space, led us on to the next curated conversation with Felicia Anthonio from Access Now. Felicia shared insights on the role that Access Now has played in coordinating and convening #KeepItOn, a global campaign and coalition that aims to end internet shutdowns.  

Members of the #KeepItOn coalition work together to prevent shutdowns through awareness-raising, advocacy, capacity-building and litigation. Access Now further builds resilience among affected communities through technical support and grassroots grants, and applies multiple forms of solidarity at local, national and international levels. 

(Graphic from: #KeepItOn update: who is shutting down the internet in 2021? by Access Now) 

The campaign uses public solidarity to tackle shutdowns, for example through advocacy at the global or national level calling for specific internet shutdowns to be ended. Tensions can arise between public solidarity on the one hand, and access on the other, and risks to access, staff or partners’ safety can act as barriers to ICSOs signing on to open letters or speaking out publicly on the issue of internet shutdowns. However, as the #KeepItOn coalition’s work demonstrates there is a spectrum of different modes of solidarity available to ICSOs.  

There are different examples of more ‘quiet’ acts of solidarity that ICSOs can take, such as helping to document restrictions in a particular context, or supporting local communities or groups affected by a shutdown. The coalition itself employs multiple modes and levels of solidarity; for example combining awareness-raising at the multilateral level with litigation or advocacy at the national level, alongside strengthening of local capacities to deal with the impacts of shutdowns. So, whatever their appetite or capacity for risk might be, ICSOs can contribute to the protection of digital space and freedoms, and joining the #KeeptItOn Coalition can be an effective first step. 

Further details about these two examples can be found in the Solidarity Playbook, in the case studies on Hivos and Access Now which cover strategies for the protection of online free expression, as well as its potential to bring about social change, revealing different strategies for solidarity in the face of closing civic space. We encourage you to delve deeper into these topics by reading the cases!  

 

Sarah Pugh

Research Consultant

RINGO Project

Sarah Pugh, Research Consultant, has worked with activists, grassroots movements and storytellers internationally. She has conducted research for both funders and civil society organisations, including human rights and women’s rights NGOs based in India and Burma, and has over a decade of experience in the human rights and social justice philanthropy sector, having worked with a variety of funder collaborations whilst based at Global Dialogue. She has managed pass-through grants and pooled funds for human rights and social change in the UK and globally, and supported the inception of the Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society (FICS). Sarah is currently acting as Project Manager for the RINGO Project - a systems change process aimed at reimagining the INGO.


Call for Applications: Research Consultant

23rd September 2021 by Adriana Sahagún Martínez

The ICSCentre is looking for a research consultant to support its Solidarity Action Network (SANE) in building a resource directory for its members. The directory will consist of strategies, tools and guidelines to respond to threats and clampdowns faced by international civil society organisations (ICSOs) and their local partners as well as expert contacts that can help with a swift and suitable response.

SANE focuses on strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors when faced with civic space restrictions or changing operating conditions for civil society. It particularly connects humanitarian and development ICSOs and brings them into discussions on civic space challenges and opportunities.

The ICSCentre is commissioning a consultant to:

  • Develop a framework for presenting resources and contacts in a digestible and easy-to-use way.
  • Map and pick relevant publicly available resources based on suggested topics (desk research).
  • Reach out to or follow up with ICSOs and CSOs on their materials.
  • Prepare resources for the website with a short and easy-to-follow overview and upload them to the website.
  • Map and pick relevant expert organisations and individual experts on selected topics.
  • Prepare expert information for the directory and upload them to the website.
  • Consult topics and structure of the directory with the ICSCentre and the SANE task force.
  • Think proactively about technical aspects (especially usability) of the directory and consult them with the ICSCentre and the web developer.

Find the full tender and how to apply here

The ICSCentre invites qualified individuals or organisations (“Offerors”) to submit a proposal for the requested services. The application needs to be submitted by 13 October 2021.

If you meet the selection criteria, please submit your application to Eva Gondorová including:

  1. Cover letter (no more than 3 pages), including:
    – A brief description of your experience and expertise in the field that illustrates your overall qualifications and capabilities for this scope of work
    – Your consultancy rate (amount in EUR/day)
  2.  Your CV
  3.  Two references that can be contacted should you be shortlisted.

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre