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TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

A world to win: civil society fights back globally against war, poverty and disease

This news post is almost 2 years old

New report reveals the scale of grassroots resistance across the planet

In a world marked by economic chaos, brutal warfare, repression and disease, global civil society is providing a shining light and leading the fight back.

That is one of the findings of a major new world-wide snapshot which shows the progress charities, NGOs and grassroots campaign groups have made in the face of the biggest challenges.

For every action there is a response, and the new Civicus State of Civil Society Report 2022 paints a perhaps surprisingly optimistic picture as it scopes how ordinary people across the planet have mobilised in the face of the worst the system can throw at them.

Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine has directly blighted the lives of millions but is also sending echoes of disruption around the world, as soaring food and fuel prices pile further misery on communities already hit hard by the impacts of the pandemic and extreme weather caused by climate change.

The report finds hope, however, in the many mobilisations for change around the world: the mass protests, campaigns and people’s movements for justice, and the many grassroots initiatives defending rights and helping those most in need.

A major message is that civil society is alive and kicking and is striving by all means available to make a difference.

The report identifies five key current trends of global significance:

  • Rising costs of fuel and food are spurring public anger and protests at economic mismanagement,
  • democracy is under assault but positive changes are still being won,
  • advances are being made in fighting social inequality despite attacks,
  • civil society is keeping up the pressure for climate action,
  •  and current crises are exposing the inadequacies of the international governance system.

A major theme is of people being pushed by events not to despair but towards organisation and to fighting back.

The report looks at the still parlous state of affairs in Sri Lanka, which has seen almost complete economic collapse. This has led to widespread protests and may yet topple the government.

A similar process in Kazakhstan was only stopped by the intervention of the Russian military – but while the movement there may be stalled for now, grassroots organisation has made its claim as a major actor in events – nationally and internationally.

The process of rebellion and fight back will continue in the wake of the linked economic, Covid and environmental crises.

The report states: “The price of pretty much everything is going up, in country after country. The cost of essentials like food and fuel is rising most of all, and Russia’s war on Ukraine is worsening the situation, further pushing up prices of basics. Many governments are failing to protect their people from the impacts. Many people, already strained by the pandemic, are struggling to make ends meet while they see fossil fuel companies benefiting from a boom. They are angered by profiteering and price gouging. When the costs of essentials rise, protests usually follow.

“Violence is a common state response when protesters call for the redistribution of power. But state violence is still sometimes insufficient to stop protests winning change. Further widespread protests sparked by unlivable economic conditions, along with workplace organising to demand labour rights, can be expected in the coming months – and in some cases those demanding change will win.

“When protests take place in authoritarian and repressive contexts where other means of expressing dissent are blocked, they are often widespread and massive, and quickly grow to encompass a wide variety of demands beyond their initial trigger: demands the political system is unable to concede. People push not just for different economic policies and new political leaders but also to change the system.”

TFN magazine’s July edition will look at the report in greater detail. In the meantime, you can read it here.