Civil society space

In many parts of the world, NGOs face more and more legal requirements and other restrictions on their activities. Legislation on counter-terrorism measures, restrictions on NGO operations, and access to populations are impacting their day to day operations. How do NGOs perceive this shrinking space? How does it impact the ability of NGOs to operate, especially in conflict and complex emergency contexts? What are some of the measures taken by NGOs and other partners to respond to the current trends?

ICVA scoping study

An independent research carried out for ICVA in 2018 provides a collective perspective of civil space needs and defines the potential of ICVA in strengthening and supporting a more inclusive and diverse civil society. The study identifies a wide variety of civil society needs, which include: accessibility and translation of documentation, support to national organisations and to NGO fora, advocacy support, research and data on the closure of civil society space, capacity building, among others. 

To read the scoping study on civil society space in humanitarian action: download the executive summary or the full report.

Webinar: How do NGOs navigate shrinking civil society space?

On 20 June, the ICVA/PHAP webinar on "How do NGOs navigate shrinking civil society space", allowed us to hear from NGOs and different actors’ on current challenges and trends regarding civil society space. The webinar provided an opportunity to have a broader discussion on how to connect and collaborate with other actors already working on shrinking space, possible counterstrategies, and ways forward.

This webinar aimed at answering the following questions:

  • What measures are being put in place to restrict the operations of NGOs and how are humanitarian NGOs affected?
  • What are NGOs and other actors doing to navigate shrinking and changing space for civil society? 
  • How can NGOs improve their engagement with other actors and partners and connect and collaborate?

Watch the recording below and/or listen to the podcast:


This webinar is part of the “Navigating Change” Learning Stream which includes webinars, briefing papers, and other resources on how NGOs are managing changing global, regional, and national contexts for humanitarian response.


Access a collection of civic space resources developed by the Civic Space Initiative (CSI) partners which aims to support individuals and civil society organizations working on civic space issues around the globe. The CSI is a collaborative effort funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to protect and expand civic space in a time of increasing restrictions. The CSI is implemented by Article 19, CIVICUS, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, and the World Movement for Democracy.

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