Human rights defenders and civic organisations are increasingly under the pressure of democratic backsliding and declining social rights and policies in Europe today (see: Towards an enabling environment for civil society in Europe). While these challenges undermine their space of action, they often galvanise citizens to protect and expand fundamental rights (equality, inclusion, dignity, sustainability and justice) against growing political apathy, consumerism, exclusion and individualisation. Organised civil society and social movements play a crucial role in monitoring, advocating and organizing resistance. And they find increasingly inspiring approaches and strategies to do so.
The European Civic Forum observes these trends through the Civic Space Watch, a platform collecting resources on threats to fundamental rights as well as positive initiatives aimed at countering these trends. The platform was launched in early 2018 and has so far gathered over 370 resources from approximately 50 local, national and European organisations in 24 EU countries.
This year the European Civic Forum will illustrate the finding of the Civic Space Watch through the stories of the activists and groups that are at the forefront the resistance in the fourth issue of the magazine / report Activizenship #4. Since 2014, the magazine contributes to capturing current trends and transformations affecting civil society environment in Europe and worldwide and connecting ideas and experiences about changing the world from grassroots up. See previous issues here.
Selection and award
We are looking for victorious stories of activists, associations, movements or groups of citizens who fight for fundamental rights and justice for all, while also resisting attempts to deny their rights to associate, protest, speak out and act.
Six of them will be selected by the European Civic Forum based on:
1) the effectiveness of their approach to resist shrinking
The selection will also try to ensure a fair territorial and thematic representation of various challenges and diverse rights-related issues. They should illustrate some of the many ways of considering a mobilisation a success. Selected activists will be invited to a reward ceremony in Brussels in winter 2019, and their stories will be collected in the Activizenship #4 magazine. The case studies of Activizenship #4 will also be at the centre of ECF’s campaigning and advocacy efforts for 2020. The magazine will be disseminated online as well as through local, national and European events and policy discussions, where the activists will be invited to share their stories. The ECF will also rely on the partnership with ARTE TV to reach a wider audience and make the case of the initiatives rewarded.