Not a circumstance
that civil society is
under attack.

Civil society’s ability to operate is severely
restricted by legislative and political decisions,
impacting both civic and personal space.

How is the civic space shrinking
for the global youth movement?

4
The irony of Youth Inclusion

The discourse on youth participation states that it is vital, that youth should be included in all levels of decision-making. However, governments do not take youth voices and recommendations into consideration. Youth are not included as meaningful participants, and usually invited only for symbolic purposes.

Young people face unique challenges in accessing resources and opportunities such as employment, access to and quality education, health services, among others. Youth are seen as the future but are not included in the development paradigm of the present.

5
Government restrictions and interference
Youth serving and youth led civil society organizations (CSOs) have been facing resistance from governments for a long time. This is not surprising since young people have been at the forefront of different revolutions, independence struggles and rights movements. Young people are a contending force in shaping history, progressive development and effecting change in societies across many nations. It is because of this that governments are restricting, suppressing and interfering with the work of youth civil society organization.
4
Right to information and freedom of expression
In many countries, media and the right to information and freedom of expression has become increasingly difficult, especially with media outlets either owned and controlled by the state or a private sector that is heavily regulated by the state. Only internet media are available for CSOs to express positions and make calls in society. However, moves to restrict information and free speech online has also been done by several governments.

There is a clear development where journalists are facing ever more threats. In some contexts, the rights and freedoms stay unhampered, but in practice, being vocal on certain issues implies threats, harassments and even deaths.

There is an increasing difficulty of getting factually correct information. Fake news and disinformation are used to attack CSOs and to skew the “opinion” of the people.

5
The legislation paradox
Laws are being used to violate human rights and ‘legally’ restrict the registration and operations of CSOs. Many laws are indirectly used to restrict meetings and detain youth activists.

The current situation of LSU:s partnerorganisations

Philippines
Center for Youth and Advocacy Networking- CYAN

Existing dictatorships were empowered by the pandemic to crackdown on youth groups all over the world who are only asking for accountability for their respective government’s failed crisis responses.

More human rights abuses against innocent young civilians and activists were implemented in the guise of response to pandemic regulations.

Myanmar
National Youth Congress- NYC

The coup on February 1 led to peaceful masses of various groups gathering and protesting against the illegitimate rule.

However, the consequences of the peaceful protests have led to a violent response from the regime where anyone opposing can get detained or physically hurt, and in extreme cases, killed. Civil society activists, journalists, lawyers, and anyone deemed opposition has not been able to operate safely in the current violent environment. Media outlets and social media have been shut down many times to prevent information from spreading to the world.

Kenya
Youth Alive! Kenya- YAK

Currently, Kenya is preparing for the General election set for August 2022 with the current political leaders having made proposals for constitutional change to add more positions to suit them as it’s currently, with minimal youth participation in it. We are also faced with lesser youth and women participation in the elections due to the dynamic involved such as financing, stereotyping, culture, and violence faced by both youth and women.

Kenya’s 2010 constitution established a ground-breaking gender quota, requiring “not more than two-thirds of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.” Ten years later, after numerous attempts, the government still has not adopted legislation to fully implement this constitutional requirement. As a result, this September 21, the Chief Justice of Kenya advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve parliament.

This decision, and the ensuing political fallout, highlights significant barriers that continue to impede the full and equal participation of women in all spheres of public life.

Zimbabwe
Youth Empowerment and transformation trust- YETT

The COVID-19 pandemic has induced a series of national lockdowns, which result in social, economic, and political effects that pose very real challenges for young people across the globe.

In some contexts, the policies adopted to address the pandemic threatened the freedoms and rights of young people and contracted an already shrinking civic space.

In Zimbabwe, the Government of Zimbabwe has continued to undermine democracy and individual freedoms by intensifying its clampdown on civil society, increasing its censorship of the content of civic education programs, and fast-tracking legislative and constitutional amendments in a bid to strengthen the authoritarian rule. The ability to adjust and adapt for the youth movement is additionally limited by a contracting financial resource base.

Turkey
Gençlik Örgütleri Forumu – GoFor

Covid restrictions are used to further limit civic rights, especially for young people.

Youth and the youth movement are left behind of Covid -related support, not only budgetary wise, but also in regards to services. Especially with growing xenophobia and racism, youth who are working for and with human rights, or intercultural solidarity have been seen as agents of influence since there is a perception that foreign aid increases the foreign influence.

Belarus
Belarusian National Youth Council – RADA

The Belarusian government started a new big wave of liquidation of CSOs in Belarus in July 2021.

By now there are more than 250 organizations closed, among them at least 30 youth organizations. RADA’s member organizations suffered severely: among 28 MOs 20 were liquidated. Several internet shutdowns were used since August 2020.

Independent media were prosecuted as well, making it very difficult to address the broad public on youth issues. Active citizens were constantly prosecuted and imprisoned both short and long term. Many have fled the country and continue to do so because of security reasons.

Lebanon
Youth Advocacy Process – YAP

Youth are not always on the government agenda. Even when governments address youth in their political speeches, it is merely tokenistic and rarely coupled with concrete action. In turbulent times and economic austerity, civic spaces shrink, and governments try to curb citizens’ protests.

Young people are usually the first to take to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the course of events in their country, and sadly, they are the first to be faced with brutal reactions by security forces. In my country (Lebanon), the arrest of young activists on social media has become recurrent. The civic space for self – expression has been tightened and to expand it we need concerted efforts.

Sweden
The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations – LSU

In Sweden, paradoxically, laws that promote human rights, such as freedom of expression and the right to organize/freedom of assembly are now being abused by extremist groups to express hate, promote fear, intimidate and threaten other marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQI+ and migrant communities as well as religious minorities. The organizations of these groups (e.g., fascist organizations) threaten and intimidate other minority groups.

The young Swedish civil society has experienced a shrinking financial support in real terms since 2006. Journalists are also threatened daily.

Philippines
Center for Youth and Advocacy Networking- CYAN

Existing dictatorships were empowered by the pandemic to crackdown on youth groups all over the world who are only asking for accountability for their respective government’s failed crisis responses.

More human rights abuses against innocent young civilians and activists were implemented in the guise of response to pandemic regulations.

Myanmar
National Youth Congress- NYC

The coup on February 1 led to peaceful masses of various groups gathering and protesting against the illegitimate rule.

However, the consequences of the peaceful protests have led to a violent response from the regime where anyone opposing can get detained or physically hurt, and in extreme cases, killed. Civil society activists, journalists, lawyers, and anyone deemed opposition has not been able to operate safely in the current violent environment. Media outlets and social media have been shut down many times to prevent information from spreading to the world.

Kenya
Youth Alive! Kenya- YAK

Currently, Kenya is preparing for the General election set for August 2022 with the current political leaders having made proposals for constitutional change to add more positions to suit them as it’s currently, with minimal youth participation in it. We are also faced with lesser youth and women participation in the elections due to the dynamic involved such as financing, stereotyping, culture, and violence faced by both youth and women.

Kenya’s 2010 constitution established a ground-breaking gender quota, requiring “not more than two-thirds of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.” Ten years later, after numerous attempts, the government still has not adopted legislation to fully implement this constitutional requirement. As a result, this September 21, the Chief Justice of Kenya advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve parliament.

This decision, and the ensuing political fallout, highlights significant barriers that continue to impede the full and equal participation of women in all spheres of public life.

Zimbabwe
Youth Empowerment and transformation trust- YETT

The COVID-19 pandemic has induced a series of national lockdowns, which result in social, economic, and political effects that pose very real challenges for young people across the globe.

In some contexts, the policies adopted to address the pandemic threatened the freedoms and rights of young people and contracted an already shrinking civic space.

In Zimbabwe, the Government of Zimbabwe has continued to undermine democracy and individual freedoms by intensifying its clampdown on civil society, increasing its censorship of the content of civic education programs, and fast-tracking legislative and constitutional amendments in a bid to strengthen the authoritarian rule. The ability to adjust and adapt for the youth movement is additionally limited by a contracting financial resource base.

Turkey
Gençlik Örgütleri Forumu – GoFor

Covid restrictions are used to further limit civic rights, especially for young people.

Youth and the youth movement are left behind of Covid -related support, not only budgetary wise, but also in regards to services. Especially with growing xenophobia and racism, youth who are working for and with human rights, or intercultural solidarity have been seen as agents of influence since there is a perception that foreign aid increases the foreign influence.

Belarus
Belarusian National Youth Council – RADA

The Belarusian government started a new big wave of liquidation of CSOs in Belarus in July 2021.

By now there are more than 250 organizations closed, among them at least 30 youth organizations. RADA’s member organizations suffered severely: among 28 MOs 20 were liquidated. Several internet shutdowns were used since August 2020.

Independent media were prosecuted as well, making it very difficult to address the broad public on youth issues. Active citizens were constantly prosecuted and imprisoned both short and long term. Many have fled the country and continue to do so because of security reasons.

Lebanon
Youth Advocacy Process – YAP

Youth are not always on the government agenda. Even when governments address youth in their political speeches, it is merely tokenistic and rarely coupled with concrete action. In turbulent times and economic austerity, civic spaces shrink, and governments try to curb citizens’ protests.

Young people are usually the first to take to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the course of events in their country, and sadly, they are the first to be faced with brutal reactions by security forces. In my country (Lebanon), the arrest of young activists on social media has become recurrent. The civic space for self – expression has been tightened and to expand it we need concerted efforts.

Sweden
The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations – LSU

In Sweden, paradoxically, laws that promote human rights, such as freedom of expression and the right to organize/freedom of assembly are now being abused by extremist groups to express hate, promote fear, intimidate and threaten other marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQI+ and migrant communities as well as religious minorities. The organizations of these groups (e.g., fascist organizations) threaten and intimidate other minority groups.

The young Swedish civil society has experienced a shrinking financial support in real terms since 2006. Journalists are also threatened daily.

Experiences of shrinking space

In the Philippines, the administration has implemented a law called the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which is basically a policy that allows crackdown on activists. On top of that, this was also passed in the middle of the pandemic where policies should have been focused on improving national health strategies. Even before the rule’s passage, several extrajudicial abuses of young innocent Filipinos led or implemented by local police and militaries surfaced in the news, most of which were found to be groundless and unjustified. 
CYAN - Philippines

The government introduced a new law on Dec. 27, 2020, which will further limit the freedoms of civil society organizations. The antidemocratic omnibus bill named” Proliferation of the Mass Destruction Weapons” introduced 46 changes, 40 of which was related to the Law of Associations and Law of Collecting Aid. This law was slammed down to the parliament from the presidency to stay away from the UN’s Grey list.There is almost no doubt that this law will be used for opposing CSOs and individuals, given the fact that almost every opposing rhetoric has been connotated with terrorism by the government, CSO activists, and journalists are held in prison while getting investigated within the scope of the anti-terrorism law. The law violates “the presumption of innocence”, applies punishments without finalized trials, levies the fines from 85€ up to 25.000,00€. If an individual has a charge against him/her, the associations that he/she has been a member of could get closed / or government can appoint a trustee from civil servants like governors. This has of course led to some negative outcomes for GoFor as well, some members left GoFor because of the fear of annotation with a network that works “rights-based”. The civic space is being shrunk by the government. 
GOFOR - Turkey

The current situation has led to consequences which violate human rights and dignity. Youth have been particularly affected by the shrinking civic space where they have been targeted for their activism and struggle for a democratic society.
NYC - Myanmar

State costs on youth-related expenditures were cut or limited as a response to the financial situation lately – in rubles, they are bigger but due to inflation, they are lower than in 2020. Civil society organizations still don’t have a chance to receive state money to provide services to their audiences – only progovernmental organizations (BSYU-БРСМ) receive state support. Independent media were liquidated, international media offices were removed, only governmental media are working and there is no chance to get there for democratic organizations.
RADA - Belarus

Fair and just elections are one of the most important pillars for a functioning democracy. Claiming our citizen rights when voting is essential, however preparatory efforts and post-election are equally important for a sustainable democracy. Despite the youth being the majority in Kenya, they are not included in all decision-making processes to influence their current and future situations. In Agenda 2030 goal 16, Peace, Justice, and Strong institutions, it is stated that everyone should have equal access to influence and demand accountability from decision-makers. With the Kenyan government move to curb the influence foreign money in elections by blocking direct financing of the IEBC ahead of the 2022 polls from donor and other partners, a decision largely driven by the jubilee administration following the nullification of the 2017 presidential election has put a strain between the government and development partners in turn made it difficult for the youth to access civic education and increased youth voter apathy as there’s a lot of misinformation /fake news.
YAK - Kenya

Freedom of express is sacred, we should fight to maintain it. If citizens criticize politicians on social media, question them and hold them accountable, this is a fundamental right that should not be compromised.
YAP - Lebanon

YETT and its partner organizations in Zimbabwe collectively acknowledge and respect the strength, motivation, engagement, and energy of youth and the transformational potential that they have. Despite this truth, circumstances and changes in political, economic, and social landscapes have challenged youth’s ability to participate and engage in civic processes. Youth are unable to access information that allows for increased transparency and accountability from various private and public actors. Additionally, some youth organizations have had to shut down due to a shrinking global resource base. Furthermore, the whipping system in political parties means that Members of Parliament (MPs) can only support what their political party dictates, instead of what the constituency they serve says. MPs have become servants of their parties further compromising the democratic system’s ability to amplify citizen voices.
YETT - Zimbabwe