NGOs Fight to Uphold Civil Society
27 February 2019 at 5:25 pm
NGOs and international bodies around the globe are celebrating World NGO Day by highlighting the importance and struggles of protecting and promoting the contributions of civil society organisations.
Vice President of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement marking the day it was becoming a trend both inside and outside of Europe to see systematic attempts to constrain civil society organisations.
“On World NGO Day, we celebrate the relentless and invaluable role of civil society organisations in protecting and fighting for fundamental human rights, democracy, and sustainable development for all,” Mogherini said.
“It is more important than ever to defend and promote safe spaces where civil society organisations can operate without fears of repression, sanction or arbitrary detention.”
She said engaging with, and empowering actors of the civil society was at the forefront of the EU’s action.
“We are working with NGOs to protect and promote human rights, democracy and sustainable development in places where neither these values nor the work of civil society organisations are respected,” she said.
Back in Australia, Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosbie told Pro Bono News it was important NGOs reflected on their “tremendous” contribution to every facet of Australian life.
“On World NGO Day, we should proudly point out that the real value of the NGO sector is often in the unmeasured contribution to Australian quality of life,” Crosbie said.
Happy #WorldNGODay to our 57 @dfat #ANCP NGOs & all our other NGO partners. #AustralianAid proudly supports your great work to build peace & prosperity in our region and beyond #FriendshipGrants @AusVols @AusHPship pic.twitter.com/FhGc3rv0xU
— Jamie Isbister (@AusHumanitarian) February 27, 2019
He said there was a lot to be proud of in Australia, even if at times, vested interest promoted campaigns against the sector.
“We have very strong protections for advocacy and a sector that has shown itself to be willing to push back when governments and for-profit groups seek to silence us,” he said.
He said it was unfortunate that the same could not be said for many other countries.
“In many countries around the world, the public space is being closed down and NGOs are being silenced,” he said.
Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia added the day was a good time to remind governments “hostile to civic activity” of the work NGOs did.
“As neutral intermediaries, NGOs provide an important link between vulnerable communities and their government representatives and policy makers, and can provide support and greater visibility for those groups who may be without a voice,” Spence told Pro Bono News.
He also said the day also gave many organisations like ChildFund an opportunity to highlight the valuable international development work they did.
— ChildFund Australia (@ChildFundAU) February 27, 2019
“As our programs take place overseas, the many achievements, and challenges, can go unrecognised in Australia,” he said.
“It is an opportunity for our sector as a whole to demonstrate the enormous range of international aid programs being implemented that are making such a vital difference to the living standards of children and families living in poverty.”