The suppression of civil society space is a concerning global trend being felt around the world. In 2016, CIVICUS, the world’s largest alliance of civil society networks, found that roughly 3.2 billion people live in countries where civic space is repressed or closed.
The International Centre for Non-Profit Law has estimated that since the beginning of 2015, 64 laws were adopted that seek to limit the power of civil society by placing restrictions on their programmatic activities, funding sources, and preventing peaceful assembly. These statistics should be alarming to all those who seek to protect human rights and basic civic freedoms. It should also be of grave concern to business.
CIVICUS has now launched its 2017 State of Civil Society report, which features an essay from B Team Managing Director Rajiv Joshi entitled “Can Business and Civil Society Save our Democracies?”States that aggressively seek to limit civil society and target human rights defenders weaken the long term prospects of their societies and economies. Effects can include increased corruption, weakened legislative systems, and unreliable markets. All of these effects pose a risk to business. Civil society plays a key role: in highlighting potential or actual abuses of rights, identifying corruption and working to strengthen transparency, accountability and rule of law.
At The B Team, we believe there is a clear and compelling business case for companies around the world to speak out when the rights of citizens in the communities where they operate are infringed. It is crucial for a well-functioning democracy and creating healthy enabling environments for business to prosper.