OHCHR Wants to Hear from You! Mapping the History and Achievements of Civil Society

Published on December 20, 2016

‘Imagining a World Without Participation’: Mapping the History and Achievements of Civil Society

June 2017 thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Source: OHCHR

The space for civil society globally has shrunk dramatically over the last 10 years. In established democracies as well as in autocratic regimes and states in transition, laws and practices constraining freedoms of association and of peaceful assembly have flourished.

Despite this context, civil society has made numerous significant achievements over the same period: It has protected and defended civil and political rights, worked to alleviate poverty and advance development objectives, worked to regulate corporate behaviour, protected the environment, and delivered essential services, to name but a few examples.

For his final report to the Human Rights Council, to be presented in June 2017, the Special Rapporteur will attempt to comprehensively codify these achievements. The report is intended to serve as a reminder of just how important civil society is for peace, security, prosperity, social progress and human rights.

The questionnaires below solicit information with a view to assisting the Special Rapporteur in his report. Note that there are two separate questionnaires. Please answer only the questionnaire that corresponds to your position – UN Member State or civil society/general public.

The Special Rapporteur is especially interested specific, real-world examples of civil society successes and achievements. If you cite laws or case studies, it would be helpful to include copies or links to further information. If you are unsure on how to answer a question or if it does not apply, feel free to leave it blank.

All responses received will be made public in June 2017. Civil society respondents may request that identity remain confidential if they so wish (only the country where they operate will be disclosed). Please clearly state in your response if you would like your identity to remain confidential.

Completed questionnaires should be e-mailed to [email protected].

OHCHR will be accepting submissions until January 31, 2017. You may submit your responses in English, French or Spanish.



  1. How do you define ‘civil society’, and where do you see yourself- and/or your organization or movement- within this definition?
  2. What are examples of civil society achievements and successes from your country, region, or area of thematic expertise from 2006- present? What has been the impact of these successes of achievements on society at large?
  3. How do you define ‘success’?
  4. What external factors have enabled civil society to make these achievements, or achieve these successes? What factors hinder its ability to do so? These factors might include civil society’s relationship with governments, businesses, donors, relationships with other members of civil society, or political, economic or social structures.



  1. How is ‘civil society’ defined in your country? What laws or policies exist to safeguard ‘space’ for civil society’? Please explain, with reference to specific laws or public policies in place.
  2. What positive contributions has civil society made to your country over the last decade? Please describe, in qualitative terms, the contributions made.
  3. What ‘value’, defined as you see fit, has civil society brought to your country over the last decade? Can you quantify the impact of civil society during this time period?