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Focus Areas
Focus Areas

FICS’ analysis of what is driving the attacks on civic space has led us to focus on exploring three key areas in more depth: counter-terrorism laws and policies; narratives of hate and narratives of hope; and unaccountable economic power.

  • Abuse of security powers, tools, and discourse

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  • New narratives for better futures

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  • Unaccountable economic power

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  • Abuse of security powers, tools, and discourse

    Civic space has been severely constricted over the last two decades as counter-terrorism and national security laws and policies have proliferated. Governments have been able to cynically exploit ‘keeping people safe’ to crackdown on rights to assemble, to organise and to protest. We believe it can be disrupted.

    Civic Futures, FICS’ flagship philanthropic initiative, launched with founding partners the Fund for Global Human Rights, is a ground-breaking opportunity for funders to collaborate at scale to seed a global, cross-sector civil society response to the widespread abuse of counterterrorism and security laws and technological tools to stifle protest and dissent.

    As part of Civic Futures, FICS is working with those on the frontline of this repression and those working to change systems at transnational level, investing in new research and analysis to understand in detail how a security playbook of tactics are being combined to criminalize, monitor, and delegitimize movements. We’re committed to building the field at the intersection of civic space and security, but we currently don’t make unsolicited grants through Civic Futures and we will publish on our website and in our newsletter if we have calls for proposals.
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  • New narratives for better futures

    In a world beset with economic and environmental fragility, fear-driven narratives and anti-rights agitators are making enormous gains in many countries. Narratives are collections of stories connected by common values and shared through multiple channels, through repetition they influence what societies consider to be ‘common sense’. Around the world, fear-driven narratives are used to normalise restrictions on civic space and justify attacks on rights-based movements.

    Yet, learning how to use narratives strategically is a powerful tool to challenge harmful norms and help alternative ideas to gain traction.

    FICS is incubating the Global Narrative Hive, a new network working to connect and grow the global ecosystem of activists and campaigners, communications workers, researchers, artists, journalists and others who are using narratives to advance their visions of a more just world. We support the Hive as part of our commitment to supporting rights-based movements to defend their civic space and share better visions of the future.

    FICS also uses its position within philanthropy to advocate for and broker new resourcing across the narratives ecosystem.
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  • Unaccountable economic power

    In Rethinking Civic Space, FICS found that increasingly concentrated economic power is a direct driver of shrinking civic space. Multinational companies and super wealthy individuals are not simply hoarding resources, but are buying access to government, profiting from the repression of civic space, and positioning themselves as go to partners for government in place of civil society actors (for example, in fora which review digital rights). FICS intends to work with partners to examine more closely how this specifically impacts civic space and to strategise responses.
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