14 Sep 2015
Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York
For an individual to fully belong to and be recognized in society they must have the most basic legal documentation to which they are entitled by law. Sri Lankans register for birth certificates and National Identiy Cards (NIC) at a mobile legal aid clinic. Photo: UNDP in Sri Lanka
This year’s theme for the International Day of Democracy, “Making Space for Civil Society”, is extremely timely. Reports by many civil society organisations and networks – many of which are echoed in the recently released State of Civil Society Report 2015 by CIVICUS – point to the worrying number of at least 96 countries where serious threats to civic freedoms were reported in 2014.
The scale and the depth of these threats is of great concern. I agree with UNDP’s Civil Society Advisory Committee, whose “first and foremost concern is the shrinking legal, policy and participatory space for civil society activists and organizations, in an increasing number of countries across regions and political regimes.” While it was once true that countries in crisis and post-conflict periods are the ones where civil societies have been most at risk, we now see similar threats spreading across a range of development contexts. …