Webinar: Healthy Civic Space in a Global Health Crisis – What Role for the Business Sector?

Research event Recording
1 July 2020 — 2:00PM TO 3:00PM

In many countries around the world, the space for civil society has been shrinking for some time and this trend has only increased as a result of the current pandemic. Civic activism – such as the ability to meet, organize and advocate – has been made more difficult through lockdown measures. Checks and balances are being weakened while state surveillance has increased.

At the same time, civil society has played a crucial role in community mobilization to address urgent needs during this crisis whether it be the provision of essential services, informing communities about the virus or protecting marginalized groups.

The UN’s new report on ‘Covid-19 and Human Rights’ underlines the importance of civil society in ensuring that the response to the crisis is rights-sensitive. With civil society under increased pressure, there is a need for all sectors of society, including the private sector, to support its work.

In recent weeks we have seen technology, banking, apparel and entertainment companies issue messages of support for those demonstrating against police treatment of black people. But there is also criticism of co-option as well. There is a need to better understand how the private sector can engage with civil society actors to protect and defend their rights to mobilize citizens, protect liberty and press for transparency and accountability from governments.

This webinar will explore the impact of COVID-19 on civil society actors as well as the potential role of the private sector and other actors in supporting civic space. This will include ways in which businesses are collaborating with civil society organizations, including community groups, as well as providing support, financial and otherwise, for their efforts.

The panel will draw on examples from developments in the Americas, Africa and the Asia-Pacific to discuss the potential opportunities but also the challenges that need to overcome. The event will bring together a diverse group of participants including civil society, private sector, academia, government and international institutions.

This webinar is on the record and will made available on the Chatham House website shortly after the event. If you require any additional information please contact Jacqueline Rowe ([email protected]) in the International Law Programme.

To express your interest in attending, please follow this link.


Bennett Freeman, Author, Shared Space Under Pressure: Business Support for Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders
Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development
Christopher Sabatini, Senior Research Fellow for Latin America, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House
Chair: Champa Patel, Director, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House

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