The empty Piazza San Marco in Venice | Photo: Kaveman743 | CC BY-NC 2.0
The empty Piazza San Marco in Venice | Photo: Kaveman743 | CC BY-NC 2.0

COVID-19 as a Threat to Civic Spaces Around the World

As countries across the globe are desperately trying to control the COVID-19 pandemic, a rapidly increasing number of governments have started to impose severe restrictions on core civic freedoms. Although restrictions are currently necessary to save lives and protect health care from overburdening, these emergency measures must be proportional and strictly limited in time. It is crucial to monitor how restrictions are implemented to prevent governments from using the current crisis to justify new constraints on civic spaces, which have already have been shrinking in many places during the last 15 years.


Thousands gathered in Santiago, Chile, to protest for urgent changes in Sebastian Pinera's government | Photo: picture alliance / NurPhoto

The Current Wave of Protests in Latin America and the MENA – A Struggle for Incorporation?

During the last months, we witnessed massive protests around the globe against authoritarian rule, social injustice and climate change. Looking more closely at the ongoing wave of contention, we find two regional hotbeds for socioeconomic protests, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Latin America. In countries as different as Lebanon and Iraq, Chile and Ecuador, public contention was primarily driven by socioeconomic grievances. In a project concluded earlier this year, we compared socioeconomic protests in both regions and found striking similarities in spite of very different contexts. Studying the evolution of socioeconomic contention in Egypt and Tunisia since the 2011 revolutions against the background of Latin American experiences, we found that there are surprising similarities in the patterns of contentious politics which can be explained when we consider them as an expression of a fundamental crisis of popular-sector incorporation.


Karnevalsvereine sind weiter gemeinnützig, Menschenrechtsorganisationen aber nicht?
Karnevalsvereine sind weiter gemeinnützig, Menschenrechtsorganisationen aber nicht? | Foto: @infozentrale | CC0 1.0

Gemeinnützigkeit in Deutschland: Karneval und Religion ja, Politik und Menschenrechte nein

In einem Aufsehen erregenden Urteil hat der Bundesfinanzhof die Entscheidung des Hessischen Finanzgerichts verworfen, das den Trägerverein des globalisierungskritischen Netzwerks Attac als gemeinnützig eingestuft hatte. Die Entscheidung hat weit über den Einzelfall hinaus Brisanz, insofern sie dem politischen Engagement zivilgesellschaftlicher Organisationen klare Grenzen setzt. Ein Kommentar.


A man carrying a flag on his way to a pro government protest in Cairo on 25 January 2014 | Photo: Sebastian Horndasch | CC BY 2.0

We Need to Understand Why States Object to the Presence of Foreign-funded NGOs

More and more countries restrict how NGOs operate, often by limiting their funding. The response is frequently to argue that these restrictions flout international law or amount to crackdowns on the opposition. Annika Elena Poppe and Jonas Wolff argue that the objections to NGO activity need to be taken seriously. In Egypt, for example, they are rooted in concerns about sovereignty and foreign interference.


UN Sicherheitsrat | Foto: European External Action Service | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Krisenprävention durch Unterlassen: Überlegungen im Anschluss an die HSFK-Jahreskonferenz 2017

In turbulenten Zeiten hatte sich die HSFK-Jahreskonferenz 2017 vorgenommen, eine Bilanz der Krisenintervention zu ziehen und Perspektiven der Einmischung in Gewaltkonflikte aufzuzeigen. Von den zahlreichen Anregungen für die deutsche Friedenspolitik, die sich aus den Beiträgen und Diskussionen ergaben, soll hier eine Überlegung herausgestellt werden: Will sie den eigenen Anspruch auf ein vorausschauendes friedensförderndes Engagement in der Welt ernst nehmen, sollte die zukünftige Bundesregierung eine Strategie der Krisenprävention durch Unterlassen ins Zentrum ihrer Bemühungen stellen.


Attac Banner at a Demonstration in June 2015 in Berlin, Germany
Attac Banner at a Demonstration in June 2015 in Berlin, Germany | Photo: Attac

Germany Sets a Poor Example: The Case of ATTAC in Light of Globally Closing Civic Spaces

A non-governmental organization (NGO) that is critical of the government’s actions in the country at hand receives a letter from the local tax office, indicating that its public-benefit status has been revoked on the grounds of its involvement in political activities. The decision involves 90 percent of the organization’s revenues, which, as a result, threatens its very existence. After a court has reviewed and closed the case in favor of the NGO, the central government intervenes, insisting that the judgment should be reviewed. For the time being, the organization’s public-benefit status has been revoked.