This Global Call seeks to innovate by testing different ways that CSO-led initiatives at proximity to countries at risk might contribute to the more effective prevention of shrinking space. Beyond their impact in the countries concerned, the resulting projects will add experience towards a coherent EU approach to support civil society, other civic actors, and the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms by all citizens.
The global objective of this call for proposals is to support and empower civil society in protecting and promoting democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.
The specific objective of this call for proposals is to pilot a multi-country resource hub, focused on addressing the dynamics (shrinking, opening) of civic, democratic and civil society space. It should support civil society working on human rights and democracy and other actors to steer change towards greater respect for fundamental freedoms, civic engagement and democratic governance and to elicit a more effective development process at the national level.
The priorities of this call for proposals are:
Engage long- and medium-term drivers of civic space dynamics according to specific country contexts;
Offer programmes of capacity building, networking and exchange for human rights defenders and related civil society (including with other stakeholders as appropriate) at a national level and/or with a multi-country or regional dimension;
Counter the criminalisation and defamation of civic actors and civil society;
Develop and pilot multi-stakeholder response protocols for early action; maintain contacts/networks with national and international actors to assess opportunities for meaningful action; coordinate or mobilise measures at different levels as appropriate;
Provide direct support (services and/or financial assistance) in case of sudden-onset changes or significant signals of change;
Analyse trends and assess the dynamics of civic, democratic and civil society space.
Actions must focus on all of the following themes:
Respect for civil society and civic space in national legislation and its enforcement in practice; as appropriate reclaiming liberties lost or compromised during the COVID-19 pandemic;
Elevating or broadening the understanding of civic space as a basic element in achieving sustainable development within a stable political environment; recovering reputational damage to civic actors and active citizenship; raising the profile of shrinking space as a matter of political concern at national, regional and global levels;
Resilience of civil society and civic actors to new and modern challenges, including but not limited to digital security, political polarisation, and emergency measures linked to counter-terrorism, public health and other issues (also arising from COVID-19); diversification of financial resources available to civic actors and civil society in situations of closing space; digitalisation of civic space and the online enjoyment of fundamental freedoms;
Building bridges: encouraging coalition-building across sectors of civil society (between human rights and development sectors, social services), between “traditional” civil society and other forms of civic and social movements including youth activists, and between highly connected and more remote civil society, civic and community-based actors and human rights defenders, giving attention to the exceptional shrinking of space related to discrimination against certain groups or actors, exacerbating marginalisation and inequality. Cooperation could also be supported between civil society and stakeholders beyond civil society including business, public services, national and regional entities (including National Human Rights Institutions); and between civil society and other socially minded professionals (artists, designers, journalists, IT experts, etc.) to strengthen and professionalise activities, including civic tech.
In order to be eligible for a grant, the lead applicant must:
be a legal person or an entity without legal personality or a natural person; and
be non-profit-making; and
Be a non-governmental civil society organisation active in human rights and/or democracy work (please note that the Evaluation Committee will take into consideration the different legal forms of registration in the respective countries, for which the applicant should attach a justification);
be directly responsible for the preparation and management of the action with the co-applicants and affiliated entity(ies), not acting as an intermediary.
The lead applicant must act with at least one co-applicant as specified hereafter.
To be eligible, an action must include at least two local organisations as lead applicant or co-applicant(s).
Co-applicants participate in designing and implementing the action, and the costs they incur are eligible in the same way as those incurred by the lead applicant.
Co-applicants must satisfy the eligibility criteria as applicable to the lead applicant itself.