Bond to be the UK civil society focal point for the Community of Democracies
11 September 2017
Bond has been invited to attend the Civil Society Assembly (CSA) of the Community of Democracies (CoD) in Washington D.C. from 12-15 September.
The Community of Democracies is an international organisation founded in 2000 to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector in pursuit of a common goal: supporting democratic rules and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world. Protecting and promoting civil society space is a core concern for the organisation.
Participating states pledge to uphold and promote the democratic values expressed in the Warsaw Declaration, which is the roadmap for the CoD. It describes the rights, freedoms and liberties that are essential for a country to flourish as a democracy.
The CoD has an officially-recognised parallel civil society structure called the Civil Society Pillar. It is coordinated by an International Steering Committee, which is made up of 25 civil society organisations.
The International Steering Committee is in the process of establishing a civil society focal point (CSFP) in each Governing Council country. The primary role of the CSFPs is to convey the views of civil society to their governments on issues coming before the Governing Council. The CSFPs will be expected to establish and maintain contact with their government’s focal point for the CoD.
Bond has been invited to be a national civil society focal point by the International Steering Committee. This will involve meeting with officials from the FCO in advance of the Governing Council meetings, and then reporting back to the International Steering Committee. Being the CSFP will enable Bond to build up relations with the FCO, and allow us to put further pressure on the UK government to protect and promote civil society space at home and abroad.
We warmly welcome the UK government’s commitment to protect civil society space around the world, and its decision to step up its involvement in the Community of Democracies. However, we believe that the UK should lead by example, and it is important that domestic policy backs up our commitment to protect civil society space overseas.
The operating environment for charities and civil society groups has become increasingly challenging in recent years. There have been several attacks on charity advocacy and campaigning in the UK, including significant changes to the legislative and regulatory framework. Taken together, these restrictions have had a negative impact on space for campaigning, and on the willingness and ability of charities to engage in public debate.
As focal point for UK civil society, we will work with civil society to ensure their needs and concerns are heard. We will work with the UK government to ensure that civil society space is championed at home and abroad.