Posts with the tag
“Solidarity Action Network (SANE)”

Solidarity Playbook Case Study

18th June 2020 by Eva Gondorová

Think you might have a case study to share?

Then let us know what your case study is about by answering the questions below. Brief answers to all questions – also not required ones – would be very helpful for us to get a better idea of your case. After submitting this form, we will get in touch with you.

Case Study Submission Form

e.g. legal restrictions, bureaucratic clampdowns, financial constraints, media and misinformation/disinformation attacks or digital and cybersecurity risks.

Got a question?

Then get in touch with Project Manager Eva Gondorová.

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.


Call for Solidarity Playbook Case Studies

18th June 2020 by Eva Gondorová

The Solidarity Action Network (SANE) is looking for case studies to include in its Solidarity Playbook, to be published later this year. We are looking for examples of strategies and resilience mechanisms of international civil society organisations (ICSOs) and coalition responses to civic space restrictions that demonstrate how solidarity can work in practice. These strategies and responses may have come as a result of an undue threat or attack, equally they relate to the operating environment, for example a new law making it harder for CSOs to operate.

Continue reading if you are interested to learn more or have an example to share.

Solidarity Action Network and Solidarity Playbook

The Solidarity Action Network (SANE) brings together international civil society organisations (ICSOs) and their local partners to support each other when faced with undue threats and challenges to their operations or civic space restrictions more broadly. The network collects and shares knowledge and best practices, inspires collaborative actions and explores new solidarity mechanisms beyond public statements of solidarity.  

The Solidarity Playbook is an integral part of the Solidarity Action Network. It collects case studies and best practices to help other civil society organisations respond to undue scrutiny and challenges, and to enable learning on how to act in solidarity with civil society actors, particularly local partners. A set of six initial Solidarity Playbook case studies has already been published and we would like your help in building this collection.  

Show solidarity – share your case study with peers!

We are looking for more examples that capture best practices on:  

1) Strategies and resilience mechanisms of ICSOs 

We want to hear about strategies and resilience mechanisms of different ICSOs developed to respond to undue scrutiny and attacks such as legal restrictions, bureaucratic clampdowns, financial constraints, media and misinformation/disinformation attacks or digital and cybersecurity risks. We are particularly interested in learning from ICSOs which might not be an obvious target but have had to adapt their strategies due to the consequences of civic space restrictions. 

2) Coalition responses to civic space restrictions that demonstrate how solidarity can work in practice

We want to look at coalition responses at different levels (local/national/regional/global level) and map how civil society organisations support each other, show solidarity and respond to threats and challenges with a unified voice. We are particularly interested in looking at connectivity between these levels, coalitions uniting different kinds of civil society organisations and cross-sector collaborations. 

Got a question?

Then get in touch with Project Manager Eva Gondorová.

Think you might have a case study to share?

Then let us know what your case study is about by answering the questions below. Brief answers to all questions – also not required ones – would be very helpful for us to get a better idea of your case. After submitting this form, we will get in touch with you.

Case Study Submission Form

e.g. legal restrictions, bureaucratic clampdowns, financial constraints, media and misinformation/disinformation attacks or digital and cybersecurity risks.

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 in Times of Scrutiny: Key Learnings for Civil Society Coalitions

9th June 2020 by Eva Gondorová

Presented below are key learnings for civil society coalitions from our Solidarity Playbook pilot case studies, authored by Deborah Doane and Sarah Pugh.  The case studies review best practices, challenges, and lessons learned from three ICSOs’ internal mechanisms and three coalition’s responses to scrutiny and attacks. The key learnings for coalitions focus on best practices and challenges. You can also view the key learnings for international civil society organisations. 

The civil society coalition case studies analysed in Solidarity Playbook pilot case studies show clear patterns of challenges and lessons to consider when working in coalition:

BEST PRACTICE

  • Trust – CSOs are, in some contexts, coming together for the first time to act in coalition across thematic sectors. There are differences in approach, agenda, appetite and attitude, and it takes time to overcome those differences and learn to work together. Principles such as ‘one member – one vote’ and ‘everyone contributes according to their capacity’ can help in allowing for organisations of all size and style to feel comfortable within a coalition, and can help to build trust and good working relationships.
  • Clear governance and structures – setting out the protocols, processes, membership criteria and mandate of the coalition helps groups to work together. For example, having clear guidelines on how decisions are made helps to maintain trust.
  • Coordination – information-sharing is useful in and of itself, but it is vastly elevated when there is a coordination function that can synthesise information and identify gaps and opportunities. A dedicated coordination mechanism, whether that entails staff within an independent entity or dedicated staff time from member organisations, drives the work of a coalition forwards. Good coordination can enable bi-lateral connections between members and enable formalised joint work and projects.
  • Common ownership – individual organisations can struggle to feel comfortable signing up to ‘someone else’s coalition’; suspicion and concerns that the work will not align with their own mandate stalls collaboration. Avoiding the language of leadership, and instead working hard to find the common ground and concerns that resonate across organisations can create a sense of common ownership and buy-in that ensure the sustainability of the collaboration.

CHALLENGES:

  • Maintaining collaboration – civil society coalitions have crystallised in the face of direct attacks and restrictions, giving groups something concrete to coordinate around. Maintaining that coordination and collaboration during relatively quieter periods, when there is not a direct and immediate threat to resist, can be difficult. How can coalitions continue to shift between short term priorities of resistance and longer-term priorities for resilience, and ‘plan for peace times’?
  • Opening civic space – civil society is experienced in resisting restrictions and fighting back against scrutiny and attacks; however, it is less clear on how to coordinate a response to opening’ civic space. When a country has been closed for some time and there is a sudden opening for civic action, how can ICSOs coordinate to support civil society in that context, to ensure space remains open and that opportunities are taken?

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 in Times of Scrutiny: Key Learnings for International Civil Society Organisations

9th June 2020 by Eva Gondorová

Presented below are key learnings for international civil society organisations (ICSOs) from our Solidarity Playbook pilot case studies, authored by Deborah Doane and Sarah Pugh. The case studies review best practices, challenges, and lessons learned from three ICSOs’ internal mechanisms and three coalition’s responses to scrutiny and attacks. The key learnings for ICSOs focus on three layers, The Individual, The Organisation and The System. You can also view the key learnings for civil society coalitions.

Drawing out the common themes from Solidarity Playbook pilot case studies, we see that ICSOs must consider strategies across three linked layers when building their resilience in the face of increasing scrutiny.

  • The Individual – individual staff members and activists need safeguarding and capacity building. This requires:
    • Training in order to better understand the civic space context that they are in;
    • Information about what risks they may face and what protocols have been developed to mitigate those risks;
    • Effective internal communication during times of crisis, to reassure staff and keep them safe;
    • Support and coordination from international offices to national or regional offices.
  • The Organisation – the organisation’s resilience must be strengthened. Strategies for this include:
    • Ensuring compliancy with all relevant legislation to avoid ‘back-door’ attacks to legitimacy and scrutiny over operations;
    • Scenario-planning in order to understand organisational risks, so that contingencies can be mapped out;
    • Ensuring that the infrastructure and resources required are available to enable any necessary contingencies, for example budgeting for rapid legal and lobbyist support;
    • Mapping key stakeholders and investing in engagement, so that the organisation has good relationships with those individuals and groups who can in turn strengthen their resilience and act in solidarity.
  • The System – the systemic resilience of broader civil society, whether that be local, national, regional or international, must be strengthened. Strategies for this could include:
    • Working collectively to create a unified sector voice, and to increase the reputational cost to those seeking to restrict CSOs;
    • Adding a civic space lens or focus to programmatic work, for example by earmarking resources for supporting partners, activists or constituents targeted by restrictions, and factoring in coordination to bring different actors together on this topic;
    • Ensuring that the organisation or sector’s mandate is relevant to society and to people’s needs, in order to build legitimacy and support;
    • Raising awareness of the importance of civil and political space, and of why it should be defended and expanded;
    • Mapping the risks that organisations cannot mitigate in isolation, and working in coalition with others to address those risks, e.g. bank de-risking and ALM measures.

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.


Sharing lessons, in solidarity, more crucial than ever as COVID-19 makes acute situations for ICSOs worse

26th May 2020 by Deborah Doane

This blog is written by Deborah Doane, who along with Sarah Pugh, authored a series of pilot case studies on civil society solidarity. The six case studies analyse how civil society organisations and coalitions are developing resilience and showing solidarity in response to undue scrutiny and clampdowns.

We heard last week that Oxfam was making drastic cuts to its organisation worldwide, – phasing “out 18 of its country offices”. This comes as a result of the compounding impacts of the 2018 Haiti safeguarding scandal, and the more recent COVID-19 pandemic. Both have resulted in exponential drops in income for the organisation. Tragically, it has had to make these cuts deeply and rapidly. Staff and partners will no doubt be reeling from the announcement, as other international civil society organisations (ICSOs) look on and perhaps wonder about their fate. 

Many of the countries where Oxfam will be withdrawing from are experiencing shrinking civic space: Tanzania, Egypt, Burundi, amongst others. In these countries’ civic space environments, civil society is routinely attacked, restricted from operating in a way that enables them to do their work effectively. ICSOs were not immune to these attacks by governments, as some work – especially that with a rights-based lens — would have been difficult to continue on an ongoing basis, long before COVID-19.  

Oxfam’s measures put into stark light the need for us to look at the role of international civil society on a broader basis. For people in southern civil society, they have increasingly been calling on ICSOs to work with them from a position of solidarity. In a time of rapid change in international civil society, and drastic cutbacks such as these, what would it look like? How can we ensure that an ICSO withdrawal doesn’t lead to even more rapid shrinking civic space, as we’re already starting to see with restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic? Some national governments, worryingly, will be seeing Oxfam’s announcement as a vindication of their attacks on international civil society actors. 

My colleague, Sarah Pugh and I, have been working with civil society and philanthropy for several years now, to understand how we can support the enabling environment for civil society more effectively. Last year, we worked with the International Civil Society Centre by creating a “Solidarity Playbook” that include pilot case studies of ICSO responses to closing civic space and learned some key lessons about what solidarity looked like in the face of it. What we found was that ICSOs played an important role in working in solidarity and partnership with local actors. We also found that some of these – if not all – do not necessarily require an in-country presence to support them. 

I want to highlight some of the key findings from across the case studies were: 

  • Maintain solid defences. When governments attack, the basics are important. In India, for example, thousands of small civil groups were denied the ability to receive foreign funding just for failing to complete their paperwork correctly. In one of the case studies, Action Aid found this was critical for their survival when they were attacked in Uganda. All organisations can be ensuring that relevant legislation is adhered to and supporting their partners in this endeavour. Infrastructure and resources are needed for this – from accountants to legal advice, but our own learning from other work shows that these can be pooled and shared across civil society.  
  • Working with local civil society on joint strategies. Engaging in scenario planning about what closing space might be bringing can help to understand and manage these risks, and identify both contingencies and offence strategies – like joint advocacy and framing work to combat the threats. In Nigeria, the Action Group on Free Civic Space includes 60 organisations working to create a unified sector voice in the face of a range of restrictions on civic space, including in the digital sphere. Amnesty International in this case, played a role in supporting the formalisation of a cross-sector network of local and national actors, which worked hard to find common ground and approaches, so that when risks surface that threaten civic space, they can respond as one.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of civil and political space, and of why it should be defended and expanded. Organisations can’t do this in isolation: they need to work in coalition with others to address these risks, as in the face of closing space many of them are systemic. When Islamic Relief was targeted by smear campaigns in the US, which were motivated by Islamaphobia and aimed at removing their state funding, their membership in the Together Project and InterAction ensured a broad advocacy response from peers acting in solidarity. They succeeded in countering the damaging narratives being spread by those opposed to their operations, so that they, and others, can continue their important work in many of the most challenging and complex environments. Their ongoing work on fighting ‘bank de-risking’ is important across civil society globally, to ensure that funds can be received and local civil society can function. 

Prior to COVID-19, challenges about responding to closing civic space were myriad, from getting institutional buy-in, to maintaining coalition work. On coalition work, in particular, which feels acutely important as organisations may be receding from the field, what we found was that while it was easy to galvanise coalitions in the immediate face of any government attacks, coalitions tended to drift after the threat subsided. Unfortunately, this gave governments an opening to come back down the line and seek to restrict space repeatedly. Organisations will now be dealing with the immediate issues of COVID-19. Thus, prioritising keeping collaborative relationships across civil society to respond to this as a collective will be an even greater challenge, but even more critical both for the emergency response and for the longer-term, too. 

We know from countries where space closed, and where many international civil society actors had to withdraw, prior to things improving, such as Tunisia or Ethiopia, that survival of local civil society relied on ongoing relationships with international actors who worked with them in solidarity on a range of human rights and other issues. Service delivery may be closing for Oxfam in some countries, but solidarity itself, especially on an issue like civic space, can actually be strengthened. Indeed Oxfam’s work on inequality gives a good indication of what can be done. 

When ICSOs are facing significant income loss and for many staff members, the loss of their own day-to-day livelihoods, or confronting COVID-19 in their own personal and professional lives, adding ‘closing civic space’ to the list of things they need to worry about, seems like a very tall order. But civil society’s survival relies on it being front and centre of any strategy right now and beyond. 

Deborah Doane

Deborah Doane is a writer and consultant, who has worked across civil society for over twenty years as a leader, campaigner and analyst, covering human rights, development, environment and economic justice issues. Most recently, she was the Director of the Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society, and now works in a portfolio capacity with a range of clients in philanthropy and civil society. She is a partner of RightsCoLab a think tank where she works on the future of civil society. She blogs regularly for the Guardian on International Development and civil society issues.


Sharing is caring: #SolidarityPlaybook case studies

12th May 2020 by Thomas Howie

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Learn how civil society organisations and coalitions are developing resilience and showing solidarity in response to undue scrutiny and clampdowns.

Producer: Julia Pazos

Links
Solidarity Playbook: Discover and Learn from our Pilot Case Studies – icscentre.org/2020/04/22/solidar…book-case-studies/
Solidarity Action Netowrk (SANE) – icscentre.org/our-work/solidarity-playbook/

Thomas Howie

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Thomas joined the Centre in June 2017 as the Communications Coordinator. He is responsible for developing and implementing the Centre’s global communication strategy, as well as the Disrupt & Innovate platform – a place for civil society professionals and activists to discuss current innovations and future trends in the civil society sector. Prior to the Centre, Thomas worked for 5 years in the European Parliament firstly as the Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and then, after the 2014 European elections, for Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen as Head of Communications, where he worked on issues such as the EU-US trade deal, issues around Brexit and as a specialist on the Petitions Committee. Thomas graduated from Bristol University with BSci in Geographical Sciences and holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, where he completed research into the role of civil society in the post war peace settlement in northern Uganda.


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.


    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