Following concerns raised by several ACT members during the 2018 Assembly in Uppsala, the Alliance decided to establish a Task Group on Shrinking Space for Civil Society to respond to growing restrictions that civil society organizations face in many countries around the world. Increasing bureaucratic regimentation and red tape, combined with restrictions in the name of combating terrorism has meant that civil society and CSOs have increasingly less space in the spheres of humanitarian action, development, human rights and particularly as advocates and monitors for good, fair and transparent government actions and giving voices to the disempowered. The space for CSOs is further shrinking in national and multilateral arenas, affecting both organizations and individual human rights defenders. The Task Group is made up of 11 members representing ACT member agencies from both the South and the North.
Since mid 2020, the Task Group has been meeting to oversee the development of a sub-strategy for the ACT Alliance to address the shrinking space for civil society. The group’s mandate has been to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to support and strengthen civic space, and to avert, minimize and address shrinking space. To this end, the Task Group has produced a series of resources, an advocacy plan, and a guidance document for the broader membership of the alliance to consider.