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  • Author: Ruben Carranza, Mohamed Azer Zouari
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)
  • Abstract: Building on its work in Tunisia since 2012, ICTJ met with representatives of youth-led civil society organizations and social movements and state institutions involved in pursuing accountability for Ben Ali-era corruption. This paper focuses on the strategies and insights that members of the youth-led organizations and movements shared in these discussions. It seeks to call attention to their larger revolutionary goals and to offer ways for policymakers, advocates, and donors to support these goals in their transitional justice work.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Social Movement, Transitional Justice, Youth, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Saskia Brechenmacher, Thomas Carothers
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the mid-2000s, civic space has come under attack in many countries around the world. To counter this trend, transnational actors that support civil society have responded in many ways—from exerting diplomatic pressure and building international norms to providing emergency funds for activists. Despite these efforts, governments continue to impose legal and extralegal restrictions amid a worsening larger political environment for civil society. Closing civic space now appears to be just one part of a much broader pattern of democratic recession and authoritarian resurgence. The international response seems stuck: some useful efforts have been undertaken, but they appear too limited, loosely focused, and reactive.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Political Activism, International Community
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Inequality and exclusion are among the most pressing political issues of our age. They are on the rise and the anger felt by citizens towards elites perceived to be out-of-touch constitutes a potent political force. Policy-makers and the public are clamoring for a set of policy options that can arrest and reverse this trend. The Pathfinders’ Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion seeks to identify practical and politically viable solutions to meet the targets on equitable and inclusive societies in the Sustainable Development Goals. Our goal is for national governments, intergovernmental bodies, multilateral organizations, and civil society groups to increase commitments and adopt solutions for equality and inclusion.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Inequality, Sustainable Development Goals, Multilateralism, Elites, Exclusion
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Amy Erica Smith, Emma Rosenberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: In the last decade, scholars have begun to elaborate the diverse ways religion manifests in democracies. We draw on theories related to modernization, secularism, and religious competition, as well as survey data from the Comparative National Elections Project, to explain individual-level and country-level variation in religious politicking—religious leaders’ and organizations’ engagement in electoral campaigns. At the country level, though human development depresses the rate at which citizens receive political messages from religious organizations and clergy, both secularism and religious pluralism boost it. At the individual level, “civilizational” differences across religious groups are muted and inconsistent. However, across the globe, citizens with higher levels of education are consistently more likely to receive political messages—an effect that is stronger where religious politicking is more common. A case study of Mozambique further confirms the insights obtained when we unpack modernization and secularization theories.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Developing World, Democracy, Citizenship, Human Development
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mozambique, Global Focus, Global South
  • Author: George Fust
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Department of Social Sciences at West Point, United States Military Academy
  • Abstract: Has an overreliance on the military as a one-size-fits-all solution become so engrained that we no longer consider alternatives? Are domestic politics so intertwined with foreign affairs that the citizenry has no choice but to accept veterans to fill the ranks of the executive branch? Is there hope for the future? Can we rebalance the general orientation of our government? The outcome to all these questions can be arrived at in a favorable way if our military continues to embrace the Huntingtonian notion of objective control. If professionalism continues to guide the actions of our military’s senior leaders and those who serve in decision making bodies such as the National Security Council, there is hope for a reversal in what Lasswell describes as a “picture of the probable.”
  • Topic: Civil Society, Military Affairs, Leadership, Professionalism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fabian Hetz, Annika Elana Poppe
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The global phenomenon of closing civic space is no longer new. How best to respond to this decade-long trend as governments increasingly restrict space for civil society activities? This question is continuously debated among activists, academics and professionals in the field. The restriction of civic space comes in many forms, ranging from ad hoc intimidation and harassment of civic activists to growing legal restrictions that make it difficult or impossible for civil society organizations (CSOs) to receive funding and carry out activities. Governments and non-governmental actors have pushed back against these restrictive measures in various ways, with varying degrees of success. This report captures some of their recent learning experiences by examining in particular the approaches of cross-border initiatives that are led by civil society organizations and operate globally, in order to make this knowledge available to other initiatives struggling to reclaim spaces. T‍he CSIS International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon) published “An Overview of Global Initiatives on Countering Closing Civic Space for Civil Society” in 2017. This report mapped several initiatives that emerged in response to the global phenomenon of closing civic space, striving to keep this space open or increase it. The report focused on approaches including advocacy on the international level, awareness-raising activities, peer-to-peer learning platforms, and technical assistance to civ­il society actors on the ground.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Space, Civil Society Organizations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Worldwide, the internet and the increasingly important social media and content applications and platforms running on it have assumed an extraordinary and powerful role in people’s lives and become defining features of present-day life. This global digital ecosystem has created immeasurable benefits for free expression, social and cultural exchange, and economic progress. Yet, its impacts, and the easy access to content it provides, have not all been either foreseeable or desirable, as even a cursory scan of the daily news will show. In this environment, the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, in cooperation with the Department of Canadian Heritage, invited government, business, academic and civil society experts to an international working meeting in March 2018 to explore governance innovations aimed at protecting free expression, diversity of content and voices, and civic engagement in the global digital ecosystem. One of the goals was to bring different players and perspectives together to explore their similarities within a comparative public policy context. This publication reports on the meeting’s discussion as participants sought innovative approaches to deal with both present and emerging challenges, without impeding the creativity and benefits that the internet can bring.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Governance, Digital Economy, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Davin O'Regan
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: U.S. foreign policy increasingly embraces and seeks to empower civil society organizations in developing countries as a critical contributor to stability and security. This paper explores whether there are grounds for these claims, specifically whether variation in civil society can explain the onset of civil wars. It examines two common explanations for the conflict-preventative potential of civil society, namely its ability to increase social capital and citizens’ voice. Four hypotheses are tested by integrating new data on various attributes of civil society from the Varieties of Democracies Initiative into a common model of civil war onset. Little support is found for claims that civil society reduces the probability of civil war onset by improving social capital, but onset may be reduced when a strong advocacy and political orientation is present in civil society. In other words, there appears to be some grounds for U.S. policy claims that a stronger civil society can enhance citizens’ voice and reduce instability and conflict onset. This finding still raises many questions about the precise links between civil society and civil war onset, and introduces potential complications for how policymakers might address conflict onset through support for civil society.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Democracy, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jonathan Pinckney
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC)
  • Abstract: Why do some nonviolent revolutions lead to successful democratization while others fail to consolidate democratic change? And what can activists do to push toward a victory over dictatorship that results in long-term political freedom? Several studies show that nonviolent revolutions are generally a more positive force for democratization than violent revolutions and top-down political transitions. However, some nonviolent revolutions, such as the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt, do not seem to fi t this pattern. This study takes on this puzzle and reveals that the answer lies in large part in the actions of civil society prior to and during transition. Democracy is most likely when activists can keep their social bases mobilized for positive political change while directing that mobilization toward building new political institutions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democracy, Resistance, Nonviolence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michelle Nicholasen
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: If you live in a developed country, you are among those enjoying the “Long Peace,” a period marked by the absence of large scale interstate war since the end of 1945. It is the longest period of such calm in modern history. During this same time period, however, the world’s pockets of conflict have moved away from the frontiers and turned, instead, inward. “The Long Peace stands under a dark shadow—the shadow of civil war,” writes Harvard historian and Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate David Armitage, whose new book, Civil Wars: A History in Ideas tracks the evolution of human understanding of civil war over two millennia.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Peace, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus