This roundtable will compare tactics to respond to civic space challenges from backsliding democracies and more authoritarian countries.
The goal of this roundtable event is to learn from activists from different countries - including Russia, India, and others - who have been responding to restrictions on civic space (free speech, assembly, and association). In doing so, we hope to uncover tactical lessons for activists across the globe, including in the U.S., and offer insights on how to preserve civic space.
We have seen many efforts from international organizations to research and discuss the closing of civic space as a global phenomenon in recent years. However, we rarely have the opportunity to connect activists and advocates in more closed, authoritarian countries with those in established democracies that are now backsliding. While the severity of civic space challenges varies greatly between countries like Russia and the United States, there are shared struggles and lessons to exchange that can empower civic groups and activists.
Specifically, we will have brief presentations that address responses to three civic space challenges:
Physical threats - including to individuals and property
Digital threats - including bots and fake news attacks
Smear campaigns - especially those that use the label of foreign agents to discredit NGOs and activists
This event has two goals:
Collect and share practical tactical tips
Discuss how these challenges may become relevant in the U.S. in the near future (ex: many U.S. states have introduced legislation since 2016 that could restrict the right to protest)
We have confirmed participation in the roundtable from individuals from the following organizations:
International Center for Nonprofit Law
Counterpart International/Innovation for Change
United States Institute of Peace
local organizations from the featured countries
This event is part of the ongoing Defending Democracy event series at Open Gov Hub.