Study: Democracy Declining in More Than Half of U.N. Member States



A new report released by a long-established civil rights advocacy group says democracy is waning and authoritarianism is on the rise in more than 96 of the 193 states that belong to the United Nations.

“The widespread systematic attack on these core civil society liberties has taken many forms, including assault, torture, kidnapping and assassination,” the Civicus Civil Society Watch Report says.

Based in South Africa, Civicus is an international alliance committed to bolstering the agency of citizens and civil society around the world. Dr. Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, secretary-general of the organization, said of the study: “We have known for some time that encroachments on civic space and persecution of peaceful activists were on the rise, but it’s more pervasive than many may think.”

He added: “Our monitoring in 2014 shows that legitimate civil society activities are worryingly under threat in a huge number of countries in the global North and South, democratic and authoritarian, on all continents.”

Inter Press Service reports:

The report says while activists engaged in political reform, uncovering corruption and human rights violations continue to be targeted, those defending local communities from land grabs and environmental degradation, as well as those promoting minority group rights, have been subjected to various forms of persecution.

“The link between unethical business practices and closing civic space is becoming clearer as global inequality and capture of power and resources by a handful of political and economic elite rises.“ …

A number of democracies are also engaging in illicit surveillance of civil society activists, further weakening respect for human rights. …

Asked what role the United Nations can play in naming and shaming these countries, [Mandeep Tiwana, the head of policy and research at Civicus,] said the U.N. Human Rights Council has emerged as a key international forum for the protection of civic freedoms particularly through the Universal Periodic Review process where each country gets its human rights record reviewed every four years.

“When citizens’ most basic democratic rights are being violated in more than half the world’s countries, alarm bells must start ringing for the international community and leaders everywhere,” Sriskandarajah said.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

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