This month, CIVICUS published a new report on civil society responses to the pandemic. Its aim is to outline some of the many civil society responses to the pandemic, highlights its vital contributions, draws preliminary lessons and makes recommendations for states and other stakeholders to enable and work with civil society, both in pandemic response and recovery and in tackling the underlying issues that the crisis has exposed and deepened. For its elaboration, both surveys and interviews with specialists, leaders and participants of the third sector were carried out.
The advance of COVID-19 presented a new and alarming crisis for the whole world. As the pandemic spread, people expected their countries’ governments to take rapid decisions to protect the lives and livelihoods of the population. However, while much attention has fallen on the actions of states, there has been far less acknowledgement of the vital role played by civil society. Even in difficult conditions of restricted civic space, there was a rapid and vital civil society response. Civil society met needs, defended rights and forged new paths for civic action, even in spaces that States had left vacant. The CIVICUS report compiles the responses that civil society carried out around the world regarding both the satisfaction of basic needs, as well as other aspects, such as: sharing information; providing services remotely; monitoring and defending human rights; influencing and engaging with states; using the legal system; public campaigning; protesting under the pandemic; nurturing community leadership; and helping each other.
Finally, the report proposes ideas for the next steps to take for recovery and future resilience building. These recommendations are for civil society, States, donors, the media and international institutions.
In conclusion, the report seeks to generate greater recognition of the value of civil society to face emergency situations, both in the context of the current pandemic, as in any other crisis that may occur in the future, and encourages States to work to strengthen it and associate with it, across a diverse range of civil society forms and responses, in order to achieve a more joined-up and effective responses that are respectful to social rights.
To read the full report, visit https://www.civicus.org/index.php/covid-19.
Source: CIVICUS (2020), Solidarity in the Time of COVID-19. Civil society responses to the pandemic. https://www.civicus.org/documents/reports-and-publications/SOCS/2020/solidarity-in-the-time-of-covid-19_en.pdf.