News | October 2021

Foreign policy & civic space

Source: istockphoto, United Nations, Geneva

In 2021, Civic Futures founders FICS and FGHR wrote a journal article with partner OSF for the UK-based thinktank, The Foreign Policy Centre.

The Foreign Policy Centre asked us to examine the UK’s wide-ranging, new ‘Integrated Review‘ of foreign, defence and development policy, and especially its prominent commitments to Open Societies and ‘being a force for good’ in the world. The Integrated Review commits the UK Government to consulting, defending and working with civil society all over the world. We look at where this policy framework may lead to the promotion and protection of civic space around the world, and where it could lead to harm. We urge the UK Government to make good on its commitment to open societies by making a new high priority commitment of championing civic space. We also make specific calls on the UK Government to:

  • call for safeguards for civic space at the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy level;
  • expand its use of ‘Magnitsky-style sanctions’;
  • speak up against the use of indefinite emergency security powers for pandemic response;
  • align its own domestic law and policies with its commitments to open societies in the recent G7 statement and Integrated Review;
  • work multilaterally to put human rights at the centre of emerging cyberspace governance;
  • be ambitious in making strategic funding commitments to protecting civic space and human rights defenders;
  • and, critically, stick with ‘force for good’ intentions when pursuing investment in any new science and technology which may be used to violate human rights and further shrink civic space.

The special article and the whole FPC report can be read here.

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