In the framework of the EU-funded Technical Assistance to Civil Society Organisations in Western Balkans and Turkey (EU TACSO 3) project, we are pleased to invite you to participate in the P2P on-line event under the title: “Open Civic Space” that will take place on 3 and 4 November 2021.

Aiming to discuss current trends, restrictions, and positive cases related to civic space for civil society, the EU TACSO 3 project will organise a regional P2P exchange with examples from the region countries, other parts of Europe and globally. This event is organised in cooperation with the European Center for-not-for Profit Law (ECNL). 

The purpose is threefold:

  • To provide in-depth information for the emerging issues and trends that affect the space for civil society work globally, in Europe and WBT region;
  • To offer space for sharing experiences of the enabling environment for civil society and most urgent backslides in the WBT region;
  • To learn from best practices how to protect civic space, what are the available methodologies for monitoring (some of the elements of) civic space, and what can be the tools for advocacy for improving the civic space.

The three main topics of discussion will include:

– Freedom of assembly in digital age (in general, but also in on-line assemblies). The freedom of peaceful assembly is under pressure globally, both in the physical and the on-line space. As people take to the streets or gather online to preserve rights and create a better society, they are confronted by excessive and discriminatory use of police force as well as novel, varied types of artificial intelligence and technological tools used to identify protesters, criminalise them and deter them from future protests and human rights work. The measures adopted in different countries to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the practice and monitoring of the right to peaceful assembly. Assemblies started to be organised online and with the use of technological tools.  With that, also states began to use surveillance or internet shutdowns to limit such protests. Civil society needs to increase understanding of the new standards that protect such online spaces but also use new methodologies to monitor whether online assemblies can take place without governments interference.

Technology and Artificial Intelligence: Digital technology has transformed the way of exercising rights and freedoms. On the one hand, it is an indispensable tool for meetings, protests, participation or online campaigns. On the other hand, digital activism is already experiencing threats and restrictions, including internet shutdowns, surveillance or censorship. To respond to the emerging tech and artificial intelligence systems, safeguards for fundamental rights and civic freedoms is needed to be streamlined into the development and functioning of systems or artificial intelligence devices. The European Union and the Council of Europe are already developing standards to regulate the field, and this is an opportunity for civil society to be able to contribute and ensure that such standards protect civic space;

– Implications of measures to countering terrorism, money laundering to the human rights and civic space. In the WBT countries, the governments often adopt necessary mechanisms for countering terrorism financing and money laundering. They try to implement international standards on these issues without considering the “other side of the coin”, which automatically limits civic space and environment for civil society organisations. At the same time, standards by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which governments apply, are sometimes misused to harm civil society. The current situation in Albania, Serbia and Turkey are examples of such situations. At the same time, the FATF has started to document such cases and also to reform its guidance so that it can better protect civic space. Civil society needs to increase understanding of the rules around counter-terrorism financing and avenues to engage and advocate for civic space protections.

The Special Guest Speaker will be Mr Clément Nyaletsossi VOULE, The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

The event will gather up to 50 CSOs and public institutions representatives from Western Balkans and Turkey.

The event will take place on-line on Wednesday and Thursday, 3-4 November 2021.

If you are interested in attending the P2P event, please register at the following link until Friday, 29 October till 17:00 hrs CET.

The event’s official language is English, with provided simultaneous translation in Albanian, Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, Montenegrin, Macedonian Serbian and Turkish.

The Zoom link to join the event, along with the agenda and other details, will be sent to all registered participants prior to the event.