From analysis to action: How to tackle closing democratic space

As part of the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) network, NIMD is teaming up with EPD and the Human Rights for Democracy Network (HRDN) to hold a roundtable on how to stop democratic space from closing around the world. The event will take place in Brussels, Belgium, on 4 February.

What is closing democratic space?

The term “closing democratic space” describes a situation where people have decreasing space to make their voices heard and exercise their democratic rights. This can take different forms, including:

  • restrictions to the activity of opposition parties
  • authoritarian pushback
  • autocratization
  • attacks on liberal values
  • attacks on fundamental rights.

While there has been a lot of research into the nature and causes of closing democratic space, there is little agreement on how to counter the phenomenon.

Indeed, some analysts even go as far asking whether the international community is “stuck” in its response.

The EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2020-2024

One of the main documents that the EU will use to tackle closing democratic space in the coming years is the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2020-2024.

This document is set to be endorsed by the EU Member States in spring 2020. So now is a good time to discuss how EU action can effectively move from analysis to action.

The roundtable on closing democratic space

The roundtable will seek to make the most of this opportunity.

The main objective will be to identify actions the EU can take to stand up for universal human rights and democracy in partner countries affected by restrictions to democratic space.

NIMD will set the scene by presenting our research on how to expand democratic space in several countries. Following this, two expert panels will identify appropriate EU actions in countries affected by different types of closing democratic space.