The Lifeline Fund for Embattled CSOs was established in 2011 to provide support to groups targeted because of their human rights work. Since that time, there are more restrictions on civil society in many countries. Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report has documented a ten year decline in democracy and fundamental freedoms globally. Governments, powerful individuals, and other groups are increasingly targeting civil society organizations (CSOs) and individuals who advocate for fundamental freedoms. Restrictions on civic space include:
- legislation restricting foreign funding
- registration regulations
- misuse of terrorism laws
- travel bans, and
- online harassment and smear campaigns.
These are just a few of the tactics used to silence and intimidate CSOs and human rights defenders who seek to challenge the status quo. This guide is for them – activists, CSOs and social movements who want to explore tactics and strategies to push back against these restrictions in hostile contexts around the world.
If you can’t meet publicly because the government has imposed a prohibition on gatherings of more than five people, how do you engage in advocacy inside your country? Is it even possible? We want to help you find a way to say “yes” to this question!
Based on real experiences of Lifeline consortium partners and other CSOs, this guide aims to provide a “menu of options” of various tactics that can be used in a difficult or restrictive context. This guide provides inspiring case studies and concrete examples to demonstrate that advocacy is possible, and there are ways to do it without exposing yourself to a high degree of risk.
What this guide IS: a menu of options to encourage new ideas about conducting advocacy in difficult contexts.
What this guide IS NOT: a one-size-fits-all approach to advocacy that can be applied anywhere.