Many OSCE participating States are not taking adequate steps to prevent, investigate, prosecute or punish the threats and abuses, and in too many cases are themselves complicit.
No civil society, no peace and security | apropos
A number of countries in the OSCE region are facing threats to their constitutional setup. Several constitutional referendums have resulted in a worrying increase in executive power as well as weakened checks and balances.
These constitutional crises reflect threats to the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and democracy itself. There is a clear increase in anti-refugee sentiments, xenophobia and hate speech.
Terrorist attacks led several governments to adopt tougher counter-terrorism legislation marking a shift towards a harder security line, at the expense of individual freedoms. Many counter-terrorism laws leave room for misinterpretation and misuse for the targeting of minorities, opposition figures and critical civil society voices. The increase in the use or promotion of torture and enforced disappearances in OSCE participating States is alarming. Persecution of perpetrators are shamefully low, which illustrates the systematic nature of torture and enforced disappearances in many countries.
The inability of civil society to operate effectively will not only undermine democratic public participation, but the very ability of the OSCE to work effectively, since a lot of vital information from the ground and pioneering ideas on how to address gaps in the implementation of OSCE commitments come from civil society.
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Organisations work on various conflict prevention issues including human rights, education, promoting dialogue, security sector reform, conflict-sensitive development, election monitoring, gender equality and post-conflict reconstruction. ECOWAS and national governments should incorporate CSOs working at community, national and regional levels as partners in formal conflict prevention frameworks and initiatives. At the same time, civil society itself needs to become more organised and professional.
Civil society in West Africa has played key roles in preventing violent conflict in a number of ways:. Civil society in West Africa has played key roles in preventing violent conflict in a number of ways: CSOs have played a pivotal role in the regional early warning and response framework. Many CSOs have involved themselves in peace talks.
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They have helped to create the right conditions for talks, build confidence, shape the conduct and content of negotiations and influence the sustainability of agreements. In post-conflict situations, CSOs have helped to promote reconciliation, enhance local ownership of peacebuilding initiatives and contribute towards democratisation processes.
Civil society provides a credible bridge between policymakers and their constituencies.