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  • Author: James Pamment
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The EU Code of Practice on Disinformation (COP) produced mixed results. Self-regulation was a logical and necessary first step, but one year on, few of the stakeholders seem fully satisfied with the process or outcome. Strong trust has not been built between industry, governments, academia, and civil society. Most importantly, there is more to be done to better protect the public from the potential harms caused by disinformation. As with most new EU instruments, the first year of COP implementation has been difficult, and all indications are that the next year will be every bit as challenging. This working paper offers a nonpartisan briefing on key issues for developing EU policy on disinformation. It is aimed at the incoming European Commission (EC), representatives of member states, stakeholders in the COP, and the broader community that works on identifying and countering disinformation. PCIO is an initiative of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and does not speak on behalf of industry or any government.
  • Topic: Civil Society, International Cooperation, Disinformation
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Sophie Pornschlegel
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Civil society is a crucial ally in safeguarding and upholding the European Union's (EU) values. And although the EU, and in particular the European Commission, has made a conscious effort to support civil society organisations (CSOs) across Europe, it has not been enough to counter the phenomenon of 'shrinking spaces' effectively. As the COVID-19 crisis is likely to harm civil society across Europe, through the growing restrictions on civil liberties and the subsequent economic recession, the need for better and more comprehensive support has never been more urgent. Within the realm of the Treaties, the EU institutions could take a range of measures to improve its civil society support. It could come up with a more comprehensive strategy outlining its approach towards civil society; provide adequate and flexible financial resources to respond to the needs of CSOs; and improve its dialogue processes, to 'CSO-proof' its legislation but also to benefit from the bridge-building function of civil society, thereby linking the EU's support for civil society to its attempts to improve democratic participation. While the newly presented recovery instrument and the revised proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) are important steps to provide the necessary help for European societies and economies to recover, civil society support does not seem to be a priority. This is a dangerous omission. The EU must recognise the value of civil society in safeguarding democratic principles and upholding the Union's core principles. If it fails to better support CSOs through this challenging time, the EU will be able to do little else but stand and watch as democratic backsliding intensifies across member states and, in some cases, will eventually tip over into a downward spiral towards authoritarianism.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Global Recession, Authoritarianism, European Union, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Along with Vladimir Putinʼs third presidential term, intensified repression has manifested itself in line with the countryʼs increasing economic challenges. The starting point for this political trend was the so-called Bolotnaya Affair in May 2012. Since then, the regime has tightened the screws: non-governmental organizations receiving foreign funding must register as ‘foreign agents’; there are numerous restrictions on the use of the internet, as well as conditions for organizing demonstrations. The regimeʼs policies aim to send signals to the rest of society about the serious consequences that unwanted political and civic activities might cause. However, measures become inflated when the repressive deterrent targets too many. By 2019, along with the changed social mood, unparalleled solidarity against repressive policies, particularly around the regional elections in Moscow, has forced the authorities to retreat from some of their initial repressive goals. The Kremlin duly has to re-evaluate the usage of its repressive deterrent against the political opposition and civil society.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Elections, Repression, Fear, Opposition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Richard Youngs, Gareth Fowler, Arthur Larok, Pawel Marczewski, Vijayan Mj, Ghia Nodia, Natalia Shapoavlova, Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Marisa Von Bülow, Özge Zihnioğlu
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the domain of civil society burgeoned in the 1990s and early 2000s—a crucial component of the global spread of democracy in the developing and postcommunist worlds—many transnational and domestic actors involved in building and supporting this expanding civil society assumed that the sector was naturally animated by organizations mobilizing for progressive causes. Some organizations focused on the needs of underrepresented groups, such as women’s empowerment, inclusion of minorities, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights; others addressed broader societal issues such as economic justice, social welfare, and antipoverty concerns. In many countries, the term “civil society” came to be associated with a relatively bounded set of organizations associated with a common agenda, one separate from or even actively opposed by conservative political forces. However, in the past ten years, this assumption and outlook are proving increasingly incorrect. In many countries in the developing and postcommunist worlds, as well as in long-established Western democracies, conservative forms of civic activism have been multiplying and gaining traction. In some cases, new conservative civic movements and groups are closely associated with illiberal political actors and appear to be an integral part of the well-chronicled global pushback against Western liberal democratic norms. In other cases, the political alliances and implications of conservative civil society are less clear. In almost all cases—other than perhaps that of the United States, where the rise of conservative activism has been the subject of considerable study—this rising world of conservative civil society has been little studied and often overlooked. This report seeks to correct this oversight and to probe more deeply into the rise of conservative civil society around the world. It does so under the rubric of Carnegie’s Civic Research Network project, an initiative that aims to explore new types of civic activism and examine the extent to which these activists and associations are redrawing the contours of global civil society. The emerging role and prominence of conservative activism is one such change to civil society that merits comparative examination. Taken as a whole, the report asks what conservative civic activism portends for global civil society. Its aim is not primarily to pass judgment on whether conservative civil society is a good or bad thing—although the contributing authors obviously have criticisms to make. Rather, it seeks mainly to understand more fully what this trend entails. Much has been written and said about anticapitalist, human rights, and global justice civil society campaigns and protests. Similar analytical depth is required in the study of conservative civil society. The report redresses the lack of analytical attention paid to the current rise of conservative civil society by offering examples of such movements and the issues that drive them. The authors examine the common traits that conservative groups share and the issues that divide them. They look at the kind of members that these groups attract and the tactics and tools they employ. And they ask how effective the emerging conservative civil society has been in reshaping the political agenda.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Politics, Political Activism, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Europe, South Asia, Turkey, Ukraine, Caucasus, Middle East, India, Poland, Brazil, South America, Georgia, North America, Thailand, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Barbara Smith
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Amidst democratic backsliding globally, Poland has experienced a retreat from tolerance, inclusion, transparency, and government accountability. During interviews with some twenty individuals and groups in government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academic institutions, significant concerns about the future of Poland’s democratic institutions were expressed. In particular, respondents cited issues regarding the independence of the judiciary, a lack of tolerance by the ruling party as reflected in perceived xenophobic and discriminatory language, a growing deficit in transparency, and a lack of inclusion with respect to political processes. Finally, interviewees noted the government’s increasingly centralized control and perceived politicization of funding for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), especially with respect to traditional human rights CSOs. This report provides recommendations to CSOs, donors, the U.S. government, and Europe on how to help build the capacity of civil society, be that through new business models, funding streams, or fostering global and regional networks.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Human Rights, Accountability, Social Order
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland
  • Author: Stepan Grigoryan, Hasmik Grigoryan
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Eastern Voices: Europe's East Faces an Unsettled West." With the growing tension between East and West, and with the rejection by Russia of common international rules, the question how the post-Soviet states should construct their foreign relations remains of utmost importance. Armenia, a landlocked country in the South Caucasus, has yet to accomplish its transition from socialism to democracy and market economy. Moreover, efforts along these lines have regressed, and the authorities do little to implement reforms or to establish a healthy system of checks and balances. In recent months the country has been overwhelmed by protests. The authorities neither address domestic problems nor satisfy protestor demands. Instead the Armenian government frequently resorts to disproportionate use of police forces against peaceful protestors. With political prisoners and hundreds of detained civil activists, journalists and politicians, it will be impossible to build an independent and prosperous country. Armenia has a rich history and culture, but at the same time it has experienced dark historical periods. The Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict shape Armenian identity. However, such historical issues have been instrumentalized by the Armenian government. Instead of building the future, Armenian authorities emphasize the past. Policies based on past grievances lead the Armenian government to become more and more dependent on Russia. Armenia needs to tackle corruption, falsified elections, a corrupt judiciary and many other problems -- and Western partners whose efforts are based on democratic values, free and fair elections, and respect towards human rights have a crucial role to play. This chapter offers background on Armenia's relations with various actors, historical matters that shape Armenian identity, and the failure and lack of will to improve the country's current situation. It then discusses the role of the West and its importance for Armenia. We seek to answer why Armenia slowed down its reform efforts, what the West needs to do to improve the situation in Armenia.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Genocide, International Cooperation, Reform, Political Prisoners, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe, Armenia, European Union
  • Author: Mahmoud Alawna, Nora-Elise Beck, Vlatko Cvrtila, Fatima Itawi, Saša Janković, Arnold Luethold, Frederic Maio, Felix Tusa
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
  • Abstract: This working paper aims to support the ongoing efforts of the Palestinian executive authorities, security forces, independent institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media to strengthen the Palestinian complaints system. It identifies deficits in the complaints system of the Palestinian security sector and proposes recommendations to rectify them. It particularly stresses the need to improve coordination between the vast number of complaints units and calls for greater clarity on the role of civil society and the media. It hopes to raise awareness for these issues among Palestinian decision-makers and citizens and international actors. When fully functioning, the complaint handling system can be an effective source of information for the government to improve its performance and develop its services. The paper builds upon the discussions of the complaints working group, consisting of Palestinian government officials and representatives of the security forces, civil society and the media. DCAF presented the recommendations to senior Palestinian decision-makers in late September 2016, providing these with cases of international best practice.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Human Rights, Governance, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Europe, Palestine, West Bank
  • Author: Senada Šelo Šabić, Sonja Borić
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: In the period between September 2015 and March 2016 Croatia was faced with a refugee crisis during which over 700 000 people passed through its territory on their way to Western Europe. Croatia was just one of the transit countries on the so called Balkan route. This study, authored by Senada Šelo Šabić and Sonja Borić, presents an analysis of the situation in the four countries along the route: Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, taking into account the wider European context. The analysis of each country includes an overview of procedural solutions, relevant legislative framework, political discourse, media reports and the role of the civil society in the crisis.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Migration, United Nations, European Union, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Macedonia, Croatia, Central Europe, Slovenia, Southern Europe