GFMD PARTICIPATES IN CONFERENCE ON INCLUDING CIVIC SPACE WITHIN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SDGS
6. March 2019|
6. March 2019|
On March 4th and 5th, Global Focus held an international conference titled “Claiming Civic Space Together – Joint strategies to ensure development and humanitarian action” in Copenhagen, Denmark.
About 300 stakeholders from civil society, various public authorities, and the private sector gathered to share their experiences of diverse forms of civic space restrictions as well as to identify strategies that ensure the promotion and the establishment of civic space on a global stage. As a starting point, the event addressed better including civic space within the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule – the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (FOAA), and keynote speaker at the conference – shed light on the key role of civil society in the implementation of the SDGs. He stressed that the creation of a proper and reliable environment that enables civil society organisations (CSOs) to tackle obstacles and hold meaningful consultations are a prerequisite to ensure the participation of CSOs in SDG reporting processes.
Mr. Nyaletsossi Voule will present a report to the Human Rights Council relating to the links between the rights to FOAA and the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Therefore, an interactive discussion took place in order to enable stakeholders to voice their recommendations. Mainly, it showed the need for:
To bring new perspectives to the report, a call for inputs, which has been extended to 14 March, can be found here.
During these two days, thematic sessions were held with speakers with diverse backgrounds (media professionals, human rights defenders, government officials, and more), which aimed to illustrate the restrictions faced by the diverse sectors represented.
One session, “#MediaToo: How online technologies are used to restrict freedom of expression and independent media and how we respond,” organised by International Media Support (IMS), exposed some threats to independent media and freedom of expression. These included online censorship, such as blocking content, online assault methods, or trolling. Such intimidation attempts leave the way open for disinformation and, as emphasised by Daniel Arnaudo, senior program manager at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), “the weaponisation of information.”
After noticing that Mada Masr, an Egyptian independent media outlet, had been blocked by the Egyptian government, Mr. Sharif Abdel Kouddous, reporter and editor with the organisation, shared his advice to the audience about how to counter these kinds of online restrictions, including
In the context of the implementation of the SDGs, the #MediaToo session was followed by a discussion seeking to devise a joint counterstrategy aimed at securing a response from civil society in case of such restrictions. The recommendations gleaned included:
Based on the thematic sessions’ recommendations, the conference closed by setting up common guidelines meant to target and reverse the currently observed trend of a shrinking civic space. It mainly highlighted the following solutions: