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Source: Shutterstock, Sandor Szmutko, Young man with BLM banner provoking police officers, London, UK, June 13, 2020
FICS (and partners)
20 Oct 2021

FICS and partners on foreign policy and civic space

UK-based thinktank the Foreign Policy Centre published a special report in Autumn 2021 examining the UK foreign policy’s stated commitment to open societies and being a ‘force for good’. FICS and colleagues at OSF and FGHR contributed an article to this report asking where explicit commitments to defending civic space fit.

We examine the UK Government’s Integrated Review and look for where this policy framework may lead to the promotion and protection of civic space around the world, and where it might lead to harm.

Highlighting the alarming trajectory of shrinking civic space – which is seeing attacks everywhere on the right to assemble and protest, on free expression on and offline, and on the ability of activists, journalists and NGO’s to organize, travel and fundraise – the authors urge the Government to make good on its commitment to open societies by making a new high priority commitment of championing civic space. We also make specific calls on the UK Government to:

  • call for safeguards for civic space at the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy level;
  • expand its use of ‘Magnitsky-style sanctions’;
  • speak up against the use of indefinite emergency security powers for pandemic response;
  • align its own domestic law and policies with its commitments to open societies in the recent G7 statement and Integrated Review;
  • work multilaterally to put human rights at the centre of emerging cyberspace governance;
  • be ambitious in making strategic funding commitments to protecting civic space and human rights defenders;
  • and, critically, stick with ‘force for good’ intentions when pursuing investment in any new science and technology which may be used to violate human rights and further shrink civic space.

The special article and the whole FPC report can be read here:

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