to create favourable conditions for civil society, says new report
23 September 2013
– A new index published today by the global civil society
network, CIVICUS, shows that many governments around the world are failing to
keep their promise to create an environment that allows citizens to mobilise
and participate in civil society.
"Despite countless promises from governments that they will protect civil
society, the majority of citizens around the world live in environments in
which they do not have the capacity to participate freely and fully in the
activities, organisations and movements that seek to better their lives and
improve their societies,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS
Evidence from around the world suggests that the conditions for civil society
are far from perfect. The CIVICUS `Enabling Environment Index’ (EEI) is the
first rigorous attempt to measure and compare the conditions that affect the
potential of citizens to participate in civil society and ranks the
governance, socio-cultural and socio-economic environments for civil society
in 109 countries.
"In recent years we have seen popular uprisings from the Arab Spring to the
Occupy movement, but we have also seen far too many crackdowns on the ability
of citizens to mobilise. We wanted to create a tool that helps understand the
conditions facing civil society in different parts of the world. Our index
also helps identify countries where special attention needs to be paid to
strengthening civil society by the international community,” said
New Zealand tops the list, followed by Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway
while the Democratic Republic of Congo has the worst rated EEI, followed by
Uzbekistan, Iran, Burundi and the Gambia.
"It is worrying that countries such as Ethiopia (8th lowest) and
Vietnam (10th lowest) that have received substantial development
assistance and are often praised by the international community for their
economic performance have such poor environments for civil society. Either
donor governments and financial institutions have not found ways to improve
conditions for a vibrant civil society or are actively turning a blind eye to
"The three worst ranking African countries – DRC, Burundi and the Gambia –
are heavily dependent on aid flows. This means that donors have an
important lever to improve conditions if they chose to use it, whether it is
by working with governments or by directly supporting local civil society,”
Co-author of the report, CIVICUS Research Officer, Ciana-Marie Pegus cautions
that the EEI currently has limitations as it looks at long-term factors
that create the conditions for healthy citizen engagement and is not
necessarily indicative of current events.
"There certainly is no civil society utopia. In many countries with high EEI
scores, we have seen recent funding cuts for civil society and instances of
repression in others. For example, in Canada, which ranks second on the EEI,
government-civil society relations have been strained due to reports of
active undermining of sections of civil society,” said Pegus.
"We know that democracy is only sustainable when citizens are free and able
to connect and mobilise and this is the first attempt to measure and compare
the conditions for citizen participation. So while it’s a work in progress,
we hope the EEI will be used as tool that will generate debate on the
conditions that are fundamental to the freedoms we all cherish,” concluded
The Enabling Environment Index supplements CIVICUS’ ongoing efforts to track
threats to civil society, ranging from restrictive legislation to politically
motivated prosecution of activists to physical attacks and intimidation of
human rights defenders.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The EEI is a global composite index developed using
secondary data that seeks to understand the propensity of citizens to
participate in civil society.
- The indicators that are part of the EEI have
different units and scales. In order to be incorporated into the EEI,
they are re-weighted on a scale of 0-1, with 0 being the least
`enabling’ or favourable environment and 1 being the most enabling.
- The EEI covers 109 countries.
- The number of countries included in the EEI is
determined by data availability.
Top 10 EEI scores
1 New Zealand
10 United States of America
Bottom 10 EEI
109 Democratic Republic of Congo
information on the EEI: please download the CIVICUS EEI
Background Note, full report and supporting documentation from the CIVICUS website
(available from 10h00 GMT, Sunday 22 Sept) or email the co-author firstname.lastname@example.org
ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT:
(available: Sunday 22 Sept 1pm EDT – Wed 25 Sept 6pm EDT):
Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS, Secretary-General
Mobile: +1 917
Ciana-Marie Pegus, CIVICUS, Research Officer
Landline: +27 11 833 59
59 ext 122
Mobile: +27 83
Zubair Sayed, CIVICUS, Head of Communication
Landline: +27 11 833
5959 ext 140
Mobile: +27 72
In 2012, CIVICUS
tracked threats to civil society in over 75 countries. For more information
on enabling environment for civil society, read CIVICUS’ State of Civil Society Report 2013.