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Shrinking space for civil society

In many parts of the world independent civil society is coming under growing pressure from governments made uncomfortable by their work. This programme looks at the ways in which non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are finding it harder to register, operate and raise funds in a worsening political climate. It will examine the use of ‘foreign agent’ laws, opaque reporting requirements and other attempts to restrict international donor funding. It will look at the way independent civil society activists are increasingly targeted by regimes looking to silence their voices.

Publications in this programme
Articles relating to this programme

Understanding the Romanian Diaspora

Diasporas have been researched extensively, in both current and historical contexts. This essay is the first in a series that aims to deliver a fresh perspective by focusing on the…

Article by Andra-Lucia Martinescu and Rares Burlacu
Events in this programme

Hungary and Poland: Democracy and rule of law under pressure

The Foreign Policy Centre hosted a Westminster seminar to explore the current political situation in Hungary and Poland. This event comprised an expert panel discussion and the first UK presentation of a 35 min documentary film, ‘State Capture: The story of Hungary 1988-2018’. The event examined the growing concerns about rule-of-law (including judicial freedom), media freedom, protection of minorities, commitment to democratic pluralism and the rise of oligarchic elites, with both ...

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Dr Gabor Scheiring, Research Fellow University of Cambridge

Dr Marcin Matczak, Associate Professor, Institute of State and Law Studies, University of Warsaw

Lyudmyla Kozlovska, President, The Open Dialogue Foundation

Chair: Alex Sobel MP

Listen to the audio recording of the event here. 

November 22, 2018
November 22, 2018 7pm-9pm

Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons, London,  SW1A 2LW

The rise of illiberal civil society in the former Soviet Union

This seminar launched and discussed a new Foreign Policy Centre publication looking the growing influence of illiberal, anti-Western and socially conservative civil society groups, popular movements and political forces in five post-Soviet states (Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova), looking at who these groups are, what they are doing and why. The event looked at the local social, cultural, historic and economic roots of such groups, some of whom have ...

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Mihaela Ajder, Moldovan human rights activist and journalist

Adam Hug, Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Mariam Uberi, Research Fellow ( covering Georgia), Foreign Policy Centre

Chair: Stephen Gethins MP, Foreign Affairs Select Committee and Scottish National Party International Affairs and Europe Spokesperson

Listen to audio recording here

July 17, 2018

Committee Room 12, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Free speech on trial: journalists, writers and academics under attack in Turkey

The Foreign Policy Centre, Article 19 and Reporters Without Borders are organising an important seminar to shine a spotlight on the challenges against free speech in Turkey. Since the 2016 failed coup attempt, human rights activists argue the State of Emergency measures imposed by the government have been used to silence dissent and restrict any political opposition in Turkey. While issues of censorship and media oppression predate the failed coup, numbers of ...

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Figen Çalıkuşu, Mehmet Altan’s lawyer

Erol Önderoğlu, journalist and Reporters Without Borders’s representative in Turkey

Nurcan Baysal, Kurdish human rights defender and writer

Martin Whitfield MP, UK Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Georgia Nash, Programme Officer, Article 19

Chair: Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the International Development Select Committee

May 22, 2018

Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons, London, SW1A 2LW


Bad idea: the rise of illiberal values and the exporting of repression across the former Soviet Union

The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) and the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) are delighted to host a lunchtime seminar on 12 April to conclude the initial work of the FPC’s Exporting Repression project. This event will explore the FPC’s recent research into the way in which authoritarian values are promoted and developed both within and from the countries of the former Soviet Union. It will look at how these ‘new ...

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Dr David Lewis, Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter

Dr Rebecca Harms, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly

Jacqueline Hale, Research Fellow, Foreign Policy Centre

Adam Hug, Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Iskra Kirova (moderator), Senior Analyst, OSEPI

April 12, 2018

Open Society European Policy Institute, Rue du Trône 130, Brussels, B-1050 Belgium

Spotlight on Chechnya: Kadyrov’s crackdown on human rights

The Foreign Policy Centre and Civil Rights Defenders are organising an important seminar to shine a spotlight on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Russian Republic of Chechnya. Since coming to power in 2007 the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has imposed order in the wake of two bloody wars with Russia through a mix of lavish spending and the establishment of a brutal local dictatorship. Chechnya has long been ...

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Lana Estemirova, daughter of murdered  human rights activist Natalia Estemirova

Oleg Orlov, Head of the ‘Hot Spots’ program, Memorial

Olga Sadovskaja, Deputy Head, Committee Against Torture

Chair: Stephen Doughty MP, Member for Cardiff South and Penarth

February 20, 2018

Committee Room 11, House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA

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