Around the world, negative trends affecting civil society organizations (CSOs) continue. In the past five years, more than 50 nations have issued restrictions constraining civil society, including restrictions on receiving foreign funding, registering, and the right to assemble. The Lifeline: Embattled CSOs Assistance Fund enables CSOs to continue their fight for democratic values, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.
Recognizing the need to stand firm behind civil society now more than ever, on September 25, the United States, as the chair of the Donor Steering Committee, hosted the second annual donor meeting of the Lifeline: Embattled CSOs Assistance Fund. The current 14 government partners—Australia, Benin, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States—are pleased to welcome the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Uruguay as new donors to the Fund, as well as to announce continued financial support from Australia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Together, the 17 donors have committed over $7.1 million to protect and support CSOs around the world.
Launched in July 2011, the Fund has provided direct assistance to over 72 CSOs facing emergency situations, and 29 organizations to launch advocacy initiatives that fight restrictions on the internationally-recognized freedoms of assembly and association. Together, these 101 CSOs are located in 49 countries from every region of the world.
With offices spanning the globe, the seven Lifeline NGO Consortium partners, CIVICUS, FORUM-ASIA, Freedom House, Front Line, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, People in Need, and the Swedish International Liberal Centre, carry out the activities of the Fund, which are to:
- Provide emergency assistance to embattled CSOs for needs arising from harassment or abuse because of their work, including legal representation, medical care, temporary relocation, and equipment replacement;
- Support discrete advocacy initiatives that raise awareness of barriers to the freedoms of association and assembly; and
- Build a stronger global network for mutual support among CSOs including through the issuance of Urgent Appeals to Lifeline’s donor governments.