Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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The New “Space Race” for Civil Society and Democracy

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Egyptian activists accused of working for outlawed non-governmental organizations stand trial in Cairo in February 2014. Egyptian activists accused of working for outlawed non-governmental organizations stand trial in Cairo in February 2014 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Civil society plays a central role in securing and upholding democratic governance worldwide. However, from Egypt to Russia, authoritarian governments are reverse engineering civil society’s tactics, threatening to undermine the campaign for liberal rule. As civil society fights for space in which to dissent, rally for reform, and express itself freely, illiberal states are squeezing that space. My colleague Mark P. Lagon, adjunct senior fellow for human rights at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Georgetown University, calls this the “new space race” in his just-released CFR Expert Brief, “Fighting for Civil Society’s Space.” He recommends an approach to global diplomacy to ensure open space for reformers. Here’s an excerpt. Read more »