The Democracy Playbook: Preventing and Reversing Democratic Backsliding

The Democracy Playbook: Preventing and Reversing Democratic Backsliding. Brookings Institution. Norman Eisen et al. November 2019

The Democracy Playbook sets forth strategies and actions that supporters of liberal democracy can implement to halt and reverse democratic backsliding and make democratic institutions work more effectively for citizens. The strategies are deeply rooted in the evidence: what the scholarship and practice of democracy teach us about what does and does not work. We hope that diverse groups and individuals will find the syntheses herein useful as they design catered, context-specific strategies for contesting and resisting the illiberal toolkit. This playbook is organized into two principal sections: one dealing with actions that domestic actors can take within democracies, including retrenching ones, and the second section addressing the role of international actors in supporting and empowering pro-democracy actors on the ground. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 100 pages].

How Civil Society Can Help Prevent Violence and Extremism

How Civil Society Can Help Prevent Violence and Extremism: And what the international community can do to support it. U.S. Institute of Peace. Leanne Erdberg, Bridget Moi. June 6, 2019

Congress charged the U.S. Institute of Peace with convening the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. Following the public launch of the Task Force’s final report, four groups of experts came together to discuss how to implement the report’s recommendations. This four-part series will discuss the findings from these strategy sessions. Part one summarizes expert discussion on how civil society actors are preventing violent extremism and building resilience in their communities and practical ways the U.S. and other international actors can more effectively interact with civil society to bolster its role in prevention. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Donors’ Perspectives on Closing Civic Space

Donors’ Perspectives on Closing Civic Space. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Barbara Smith. June 5, 2018

 This report examines the flow of financial support to civil society, and analyzes different methods of support that are effective at enhancing the sustainability and resilience of these groups, especially in restricted environments. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 26 pages].

Broadening Local Constituencies: Strategies for Standing Together

Broadening Local Constituencies: Strategies for Standing Together. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Hannah Dwyer Smith. June 18, 2018

 Recent years have seen civil society face mounting attacks on an unprecedented scale. The pressing question remains: How can civil society respond to this “new normal”? Civil society is rendered more vulnerable because of a lack of strong links to national and local constituencies. By extension, if civil society is able to build and forge these links, civil society actors would become more resilient to restrictions on civic space. This report analyzes best practices and strategies in strengthening ties with domestic constituencies, and proposes important considerations to undertake when implementing these strategies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 30 pages].

Counterterrorism Measures and Civil Society

Counterterrorism Measures and Civil Society. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Lana Baydas, Shannon N. Green. March 22, 2018

 To combat the global threat of terrorism, countries have passed and implemented numerous laws that inadvertently or intentionally diminished the space for civil society. States conflate terrorism with broader issues of national security, which is then used as a convenient justification to stifle dissent, including civil society actors that aim to hold governments accountable. As the global terror landscape becomes more complex and dire, attacks on the rights to the freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly only increase. This report analyzes the impact of counterterrorism efforts on civic space, examines its manifestations in various socioeconomic and political contexts, and explores various approaches to disentangle and reconcile security and civil society. It features case studies on Australia, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Hungary, and India. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 87 pages].

Democratic Defense against Disinformation

Democratic Defense against Disinformation.  Atlantic Council. Daniel Fried and Alina Polyakova. March 5, 2018.

 “The Russians and other purveyors of disinformation will constantly improve their tactics; our counter-tactics therefore cannot be static,” write Ambassador Daniel Fried and Dr. Alina Polyakova in Democratic Defense Against Disinformation, a new publication by the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. This report is part of the broader transatlantic effort to identify democratic solutions for countering disinformation in the short term and building societal resistance to it in the long term. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 32 pages].

Civil Society at a Crossroads: Exploring Sustainable Operating Models

Civil Society at a Crossroads: Exploring Sustainable Operating Models. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Shannon N. Green. October 12, 2017

Around the world, civil society is at a crossroads. Buffeted on one side by questions about their relevance, legitimacy, and accountability from governments and their beneficiaries, civil society organizations (CSOs) face pressure to demonstrate their value to and connection with local communities. On the other side, civil society is having to adjust to a rapidly deteriorating legal and operational environment, as countless governments pursue regulatory, administrative, and extra-legal strategies to impede their work. Nonstate actors also pose a threat to the sector, attacking human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, environmentalists, and labor unionists in unprecedented numbers. Simultaneously, CSOs are encountering major disruptions to their revenue streams because of changing donor priorities and government restrictions on foreign funding, and to their business model from emerging forms of civic activism. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 1.46 MB].

An Overview of Global Initiatives on Countering Closing Space for Civil Society

An Overview of Global Initiatives on Countering Closing Space for Civil Society. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Jana Baldus, Annika Elena Poppe, Jonas Wolff. September 13, 2017

This document maps institutionalized initiatives—by governments, regional bodies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—that have been created in response to the global phenomenon of increasing restrictions on civil society space. In varying ways, these initiatives pursue the goal of reclaiming civic space and countering governments’ attempts to close space: spanning from advocacy from afar to financial support as well as legal and technical assistance provided to and by civil society on the ground. This collection has been generated on the basis of references to initiatives in several key works and has been complemented by references in other publications and targeted online searches as well as through feedback from regional experts in the context of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon).1 While it contains governmental and nongovernmental—often multi-stakeholder—initiatives with regional, sometimes even global, reach, it neither contains initiatives that are specific to a particular government and particular countries nor initiatives that solely focus on monitoring restrictions of civil society. The majority of the initiatives listed here have been created in the past couple of years in response to closing space; most of the initiatives are active today, although some are (temporarily) inactive or have ceased. The following overview is mainly based on the information offered online by the initiatives themselves. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 30 pages, 634.29 KB].

Aligning Partnerships for Security: A Human Rights-Based Approach to Security and Economic Cooperation

Aligning Partnerships for Security: A Human Rights-Based Approach to Security and Economic Cooperation. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Shannon N. Green, Julie N. Snyder. February 23, 2017

Human rights are often compromised and relegated to a lower status than security or economic interests. Furthermore, a lack of collaboration and communication between U.S. government agencies, the private sector, and civil society prevents a more coherent and effective approach to human rights. This report examines concrete ways in which the U.S. government, particularly the military, private sector, and civil society, can work individually and in concert to reduce human rights violations committed by partner security forces. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 2.80 MB].

Civil Defense Groups

Civil Defense Groups. U.S. Institute of Peace. Bruce “Ossie” Oswald. July 31, 2014.

More than three hundred defense groups provide security to local communities in states around the world. While it is true that such groups can be a resource-efficient means for states to provide law and order to their communities, it is also true that they can worsen security. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages, 148.21 KB].