On April 8th, as part of the International Civil Society Week 2019, BCSDN co-hosted the Global Civil Society Summit, together with the Civil Society Partnership for Effective Development (CPDE), CIVICUS and Action for Sustainable Development. The Summit brought together around 150 civil society leaders and representatives to unite in the fight for democratic participation and civic freedoms. The event opened with the welcome remarks of Serbia’s Office of Civil Society Cooperation Director Zarko Stepanovic, and an introduction to the summit presented by CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) Co-Chair Justin Kilcullen, CIVICUS Chair Anabel Cruz, Civic Initiatives Programme Director Bojana Selakovic and Biljana Spasovska, BCSDN Policy and Advocacy Officer.
“We are gathered here to call on development actors to address the issue of closing civic space, the repression of civil society workers and human rights defenders (HRDs), and the attacks on the democratisation of development” said Kilcullen. “We are here to put a stop to the crackdown against HRDs, and measures of States to constrain civic spaces. Today, 111 countries are suffering serious civic space restrictions,” Cruz added. Attendees also paused for a solemn remembrance of CSO leaders, rights defenders, environmentalists, and journalists who were killed because of their fight for people’s rights and social justice!
The summit convoked global civil society leaders and organizations to launch the Belgrade Call to Action : A Civil Society Call to Stand Together to Defend Civic Space, Human Rights Defenders and Peoples’ Voices for a Just and Sustainable World. More than 125 international, regional and national CSOs from 50 countries around the world have endorsed this Call to Action. The Call is addressed to Governments and Member States of the United Nations to take urgent action to reverse deteriorating conditions for civil society and attacks on social leaders, human rights and environmental defenders around the world, in the context of the 2030 Agenda. More details and background for the Call to Action are available in the accompanying document Action Agenda: Positive Measures by Governments to Enable Civic Space towards Maximizing Civil Society Contributions to the SDGs available here. Endorse it by sending your organization’s name, country, and contact e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.