Five takeaways from the 2022 State of Civil Society Report — Global Issues

  • Opinion by Mandeep Tiwana (New York)
  • Inter Press Service

In this scenario, concerned citizens and civil society organizations respond by protesting bad governance, campaigning for justice and helping those most affected. CIVICUS’ State of Civil Society Report 2022 analyzes world events and outlines the current state of affairs.

Five conclusions with implications for the future stand out and are highlighted below.

1. Rising fuel and food prices spark global protests

Governments around the world are failing to protect people from the impacts of massive price hikes made worse by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Fossil fuel companies are posting record profits while many people, already strained by the pandemic, are struggling to make ends meet.

Public anger over corruption and dysfunctional markets is growing. In Sri Lanka, mass protests against crony capitalism recently led to the resignation of the prime minister. In Indonesia, students protested against rising cooking oil prices. In Spain, rising food, energy and fuel prices took thousands of people to the streets in early 2022.

In more repressive contexts, protests are met with state brutality. In Kazakhstan, more than 200 civilians were killed with impunity following protests against rising fuel prices in January.

Reported deadly violence has also come in response to recent protests over food prices in Iran. In contested political environments such as the occupied Palestinian territories, the potential for renewed cycles of protest and state violence remains high.

2. Times are tough for democracy, but there are also successes

The institutions and traditions of democracy are increasingly under attack by anti-democratic forces. Military coups return. In Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Myanmar, Sudan and Thailand, armies lead governments.

In Tunisia, hard-won gains are being undone by a president who overthrew parliament, seized control of the judiciary and rewrote the constitution. India’s constitutional commitment to secularism is being strained by the religious intolerance promoted by its ruling party. In El Salvador, a president with a legislative supermajority removes democratic checks and balances.

In Nicaragua, a sitting president staged a fraudulent election, made possible by mass repression. In Turkmenistan, the outgoing president entrusted the charge to his son. The election in the Philippines saw two authoritarian dynasties enter into an alliance to win the presidency and vice-presidency through a campaign of misinformation and falsification of history.

However, there have also been positives, with successful mobilizations to strengthen democracy. In the Czech Republic and Slovenia, political leaders who encouraged division have been eliminated. In Australia, the incumbent government, with its failure to act on climate change, was defeated after almost a decade in power.

Meanwhile, Chile has elected its youngest and most unconventional president ever, and his choice of cabinet reflects the country’s diversity and commitment to social justice. Honduras elected its first female president, who ran on a progressive platform to fight poverty, expand women’s sexual and reproductive rights and fight corruption.

3. Struggles for justice and equality are gaining momentum

Despite harsh retaliation by anti-rights groups on hard-won gains in gender justice in Afghanistan and on women’s sexual and reproductive rights in countries like Poland and the United States, the overall global trajectory is skewed towards progress.

In several Latin American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Mexico, abortion restrictions have been relaxed. As opportunistic politicians in Ghana and Hungary must seek political advantage from the defamation of LGBTQI+ people, the normalization of LGBTQI+ rights is spreading globally.

Recently, the Swiss people voted in favor of a marriage equality law. Even in the difficult context of Jamaica, progress has been made by civil society through the regional human rights system.

Advances came after years of campaigning by civil society, which is increasingly modeling and proving the value of diversity. A young and diverse new generation is forging movements to advance racial justice and demand equity for the excluded. They integrate demands for rights for all with potential impacts for better democracy and inclusive economies.

4. Climate justice action has transformative potential

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its recent reports, has made it clear that greenhouse gases must be drastically reduced to avoid catastrophe. As the brunt of climate change continues to be felt disproportionately by excluded populations, civil society movements are again urgently demanding that governments make ambitious emissions cuts.

Activism, including mass marches, climate strikes and nonviolent civil disobedience, is likely to intensify as the impacts of destructive storms, heat waves and floods are felt on entire sections of the population.

Vital street action will continue to be supplemented with other tactics. Climate litigation is on the rise, leading to important breakthroughs, such as the court ruling in the Netherlands that forced Shell to commit to reducing emissions.

Shareholder activism toward polluting industries and their backers is intensifying, and pension funds are under increasing pressure to divest from fossil fuel companies. The intersectionality of the climate movement brings hope for the future.

5. The UN must revitalize itself

One of the main purposes of the creation of the UN in 1945 was to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. The experience of recent years, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel region, Syria, Yemen and many other places, shows that the record of the United Nations in preventing and stopping conflict is uneven at best.

Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and brutal attacks on civilian populations have further exposed fundamental weaknesses. The UN Security Council is crippled by Russia’s veto power as one of its five permanent members, despite the UN General Assembly voting to suspend Russia from the Security Council. UN human rights.

Top UN leaders are meant to ‘reaffirm faith in basic human rights’ and ‘establish the conditions for justice under international law’, but they have often struggled to find their way out when powerful states have committed serious human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Much of the UN’s energies seem focused on humanitarian response and crisis management rather than effective preventive diplomacy and justice for victims. Meaningful civil society engagement and access to key arenas can help overcome these bureaucratic shortcomings. Either way, it will take courage and vision from within and without to reinvigorate the United Nations.

The world as it stands today is characterized by crisis and volatility, where regressive forces mobilize fierce backlash against struggles for equality and dignity, but also where the determined actions of civil society win vital victories for humanity.

Mandeep Tiwana is Director of Programs and Representative at United Nations Headquarters in New York at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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