RACI, together with the organizers of C20 Italy 2021, held an event within the C20 summit, which took place on Wednesday, October 6. Entitled “Restrictions on Civic Space in the Age of COVID: Why is Democracy at Risk?” was moderated by RACI Deputy Director Juliana Catania and held as panelists, Marianna Belalba Barreto of CIVICUS, Florence Nakazibwe of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law-ICNL, Anja Bosilkova-Antovska of the Balkan Civil Society Development Network and Harsh Jaitli of VANI India.
The main objective of the event was to reflect on the current situation of the enabling environment for Civil Society Organizations and discuss the restrictions that have been imposed by states around the world in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, seeking to explore the immediate – and future – consequences that they have on our democracies.
During the pandemic that the world faced and faces, restrictions on fundamental freedoms have become more visible and a very common and dangerous government practice around the world. The panel reflected on how with the pandemic as a framework – and in some cases used as justification, generating uncertainty and in many cases fear – many governments used it as a pretext to impose restrictions on civic space using different types of methods (ranging from excessive use of force in protests, barriers to access information, suspension of parliamentary sessions, limit of protests and demonstrations, among others), which resulted in a reduction – and in some cases in severe limitations – of civic freedoms, putting democracies at high risk. From RACI we consider that this worrying context showed the need to discuss this crucial issue within the C20.
In addition to sharing experiences and practices in different regions, the panel emphasized the importance of governments recognizing the central role that organizations have had during the management of the pandemic, so they must include Civil Society as a relevant and irreplaceable partner when it comes to discussing public policies.
As several years ago, RACI continues to participate in the Civil Society affinity group within the framework of the G20 discussing issues as necessary for Civil Society as the enabling environment, to include it within the final communiqué of the C20 on the way to the G20 Italy 2021 summit.
To access the final communiqué of C20 2021: C20-Final-Communiqué-2021.pdf (civil-20.org)