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Open Society Foundations;
This is a special edition of Amplifying Voices that includes highlights of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa's work from 2005 to 2015. Amplifying Voices documents different journeys the foundation has traveled with its partners since its launch in 2005 and the collective efforts to realize human rights and freedoms for all.Amplifying Voices pays particular attention to those on the margins of society, including stories of working on the forced sterilization of HIV-positive women or those with mental health illnesses, promoting the rights of sex workers, or addressing the question of human rights and counterterrorism.The Open Society Initiative for East Africa started as a one-program initiative in 2005 in Kenya and today has grown to include eight programs in the region. Geographically, the foundation now works in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Sudan. It addresses issues including health and rights, disability rights, and food security.
Open Society Foundations;
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is a legally binding document that contains a list of human rights recognised by the European Union (EU). It could become a powerful tool available to influence policy makers or serve as a basis for litigation. Individuals can use judicial and political mechanisms to hold EU institutions, and in certain circumstances member countries, to account when they fail to comply with the Charter. The Charter can also be used to pressure decision makers to bring policies and legislation under development in line with human rights standards. This background paper explains when and how the Charter can be used by advocates at national and EU level.
Open Society Foundations;
Tajikistan's current laws regarding drug users and drug policy are a cumbersome mix of recently adopted international obligations and regressive provisions dating back to the Soviet period. With support from the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation-Tajikistan, representatives from the country's Ministry of Health, Drug Control Agency, and civil society organizations analyzed existing drug legislation and bylaws with the aim of identifying areas for improvement.
West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI);
The effective implementation of WACSI's interventions is dependent on civil society's contributions and feedback on the Institute's work in promoting an open, safe and prosperous West Africa. WACSI's interventions are guided and inspired by the critical voices from key stakeholders and engagement by different communities and groups across West Africa. At WACSI, we are conscious that civic space affects everything civil society does and everything civil society does affects civic space. A safe, open, free and enabling space for all to form and voice opinions, debate, be heard and peacefully protest, is also an essential prerequisite for achieving the ECOWAS Vision 2020. Civic freedoms including the freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, safe environments and effective participation are therefore essential. This Op-Ed critically assesses the civic space environment in 2019, predictions for 2020 and issues that need more introspection and collective action.
West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI);
Social accountability is an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement in which citizens participate directly or indirectly in demanding accountability from service providers and public officials. It usually combines information on rights and service delivery with collective action for change. It has become a tool for direct engagement with service providers to ensure that citizens get adequate services or adequate explanation when those services are not available. When social accountability mechanisms are weak, the context becomes more challenging for communities or individual citizens to play a powerful role. Also, social accountability is fundamentally and ultimately a question of power as it requires both social and political pressure to ensure that duty bearers are kept on their toes. This piece will therefore explore the tools and approaches that some African social movements used to effectively drive the social accountability agenda. The tools we are exploring here are respectively social media and creative arts, while the approaches will be based on their ways of mobilising and organising. We conclude by making some recommendations for donors, government, citizens and other stakeholders.
With limited resources and immense challenges, now more than ever human rights grantmakers and advocates are asking critical questions about the human rights funding landscape: Where is the money going? What are the gaps? Who is funding what? The Advancing Human Rights research tracks the evolving state of human rights philanthropy by collecting and analyzing grants data to equip funders and advocates to make more informed and effective decisions. Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) and Candid lead the research, in partnership with Ariadne–European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights, and Prospera–International Network of Women's Funds.In 2017, the research found that 849 foundations awarded 25,229 human rights grants totaling $3.2B to 13,819 recipients around the world, 28% of which was reported as flexible general support.
Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE);
This handbook provides practical guidance for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to advocate and litigate using EU law to protect their rights and civic space in the EU.It aims to be a user-friendly guide for CSOs who want to know::What EU law is and how it affects individuals and organisations;When and how CSOs can challenge national provisions or measures that impact their mission, activities and operations on the basis of EU law, including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR);Which legal avenues and resources are available for CSOs to defend their civic space within the EU law frameworkA list of resources as well as practical tools can be found in the last part the document.
American Civil Liberties Union;
This report details marijuana arrests from 2010 to 2018 and examines racial disparities at the national, state, and county levels. The report reveals that the racist war on marijuana is far from over. More than six million arrests occurred between 2010 and 2018, and Black people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in every state, including those that have legalized marijuana. With detailed recommendations for governments and law enforcement agencies, this report provides a detailed road map for ending the War on Marijuana and ensuring legalization efforts center racial justice.
American Academy of Arts and Sciences;
"Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century" is the work of the US national and bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, convened by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It presents 31 recommendations - across political institutions, political culture, and civil society - which are the product of two years of work and nearly 50 listening sessions with Americans around the country, which sought to understand how American citizens could obtain the values, knowledge, and skills to become better citizens. Collectively, the recommendations lay the foundation for an essential reinvention of the American democracy supported by the increasement of citizens' capacity to engage in their communities.
Authors Ben Hayes and Poonam Joshi summarise the key findings of the Funders' Initiative for Civil Society (FICS) 2019 strategic review, which sought to elaborate a strategic framework through which independent funders could respond more effectively to the phenomenon of closing civic space through collaborative and targeted interventions.This paper incorporates preliminary thoughts on the Covid-19 crisis alongside more developed 'futures thinking' about climate and technological change. It makes the case that – as funders who invest in progressive causes and movements – we must find new ways to expand the space for civic participation.This is the first of a series of recommendations FICS will publish for funders on how to disrupt and reform the drivers of closing civic space.
This first-of-its-kind study confirms that more than 3.3 million people in Illinois could be impacted by permanent punishments as a result of prior "criminal justice system" involvement, which is more accurately referred to as the "criminal legal system" given the well-documented inequities that bring into question whether the system actually brings justice to people who come into contact with it."Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois," lifts up that permanent punishments are the numerous laws and barriers aimed at people with records that limit their human rights and restrict access to the crucial resources needed to re-build their lives, such as employment, housing, and education. The report recommends a broad dismantling of permanent punishments, so that those who have been involved with the criminal legal system have the opportunity to fully participate in society.The data illustrates the dramatic number of people who may be living with the stigma and limitations of a criminal record in Illinois. Since the advent of mass incarceration in 1979, there are an estimated 3.3 million adults who have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Illinois. Under current laws, these individuals have limited rights even after their criminal legal system involvement has ended. In fact, the report uncovered a vast web of 1,189 laws in Illinois that punish people with criminal records, often indefinitely.
Dangerous Speech Project;
In its early life the internet inspired optimism that it would improve the world and its people, but that has been supplanted by alarm about harmful, often viral words and images. Though the vast majority of online content is still innocuous or beneficial, the internet is also polluted by hatred: some individuals and groups suffer harassment or attacks, while others are exposed to content that inspires them to hate or fear other people, or even to commit mass murder.Hateful and harmful messages are so widespread online that the problem is not specific to any culture or country, nor can such content be easily classified under terms like "hate speech" or "extremism": it is too varied. Even the people who produce harmful content, and their motivations for doing so, are diverse. Online service providers (OSPs) have built systems to diminish harmful content, but those are inadequate for the complex task at hand and have fundamental flaws that cannot be solved by tweaking the rules, as the companies have been doing so far. The stakeholders who have the least say in how speech is regulated are precisely those who are subject to that regulation: internet users. "I've come to believe that we shouldn't make so many important decisions about speech on our own," Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and a founder of Facebook, wrote last year. He is correct.Daunting though the problem is, there are many opportunities for improvement, but they have been largely overlooked. The widespread distress about it is itself an opportunity, since that means millions of people are paying attention, and it will take broad participation to build online norms against harmful content. Such mass participation is neither far-fetched nor unfamiliar: many beneficial campaigns and social movements have been born and developed thanks to mass participation online.This paper offers a set of specific proposals for better describing harmful content online and for reducing the damage it causes, while protecting freedom of expression. The ideas are mainly meant for OSPs since they regulate the vast majority of online content; taken together they operate the largest system of censorship the world has ever known, controlling more human communication than any government. Governments, for their part, have tried to berate or force the companies into changing their policies, with limited and often repressive results. For these reasons, this paper focuses on what OSPs should do to diminish harmful content online.The proposals focus on the rules that form the basis of each regulation system, as well as on other crucial steps in the regulatory process, such as communicating rules to platform users, giving multiple stakeholders a role in regulation, and enforcement of the rules.