Supporting Vibrant Civil Society & Independent Media

Civil Capacity and Media Training
A USAID-funded initiative called the Sudanese Initiative for Constitution Making provides a forum for diverse civil society groups to debate constitutional reform in Sudan.

A democratic political culture requires a vibrant civil-society sector and an independent media to ensure that citizens are well informed about the actions and performance of government institutions and officials, and that citizens have the means to freely influence public policies.

  • In the last several years, more than 90 governments have sought to pass restrictive laws and regulations, hampering the ability of civil society organizations to register, operate freely, or receive foreign funding.
  • In 2012, only 14.5 percent of the world’s inhabitants lived in countries with a completely free press.

USAID works with its Missions, implementing partners, other international organizations and host governments to design targeted activities that effectively support local, grass-roots civil-society organization and independent media.

These civil society and media organizations seek to peacefully promote:

  • Civic engagement
  • Tolerance
  • Respect for human rights
  • Greater governmental inclusiveness, accountability and transparency

Because civic action and engagement with government can result in political reform, USAID emphasizes support for civil-society organizations whose advocacy efforts give voice to citizens and increase their influence on the political process. 

These organizations may include human rights and pro-democracy groups, labor unions, professional associations, religious institutions, think tanks, business associations, and informal groups such as student movements. 

In more restrictive political environments, a critical step is support for legal and regulatory frameworks that provide an enabling environment for civil-society organizations, democratic labor groups and independent media, including social media, to develop free from governmental constraints on the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly and expression.

A vibrant civil-society sector and independent media can help countries recover from disasters and transition from conflict – enabling democratic political transitions that empower all citizens, including vulnerable populations.

In fiscal year  2012, USAID: 

  • Strengthened the legal environment for civil society in over 12 countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • Supported more than 220 independent and democratic trade or labor unions to promote international labor standards in nine countries.
  • Advanced Internet freedom in five countries by providing civil society, independent media organizations, bloggers, and advocates with mentoring, tools, and techniques to bolster their information technology capacity and protect their security online. 

The Agency also is promoting USAID Forward’s effort to increase Local Capacity Development by working with local, grass-roots civil society organizations.

USAID’s Civil Society Organization (CSO) Sustainability Index for Africa and Europe & Eurasia reports on the strength and overall viability of the NGO sector in these regions' countries. Our Media Sustainability Index provides in-depth analyses of the conditions for independent media in 80 countries across the world in Africa, Europe & Eurasia, and the Middle East & North Africa

Last updated: August 09, 2016

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