An unexpected window of opportunity for civil society online

COVID19 Newsletter

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In light of the current sanitary crisis, the MAJALAT project has launched a series of webinars. Spanning from the end of May to the end of September, these aim to reflect the impact of the pandemic on a number of topics relevant to the Euro-Mediterranean region. Six thematic areas are covered namely Economic Development and Social Dialogue, Governance and Rule of Law, Migration and Mobility, Security and Countering Violence, Climate Justice, and Youth.

The webinars were an opportunity for participants to speak up against the current tendencies of some governments to use the fight against the pandemic as pretext to adopt measures undermining the rule of law and endangering human rights and freedoms. States have often failed to address the most urgent and basic needs of their populations. Faced with the sanitary crisis, national and regional policies have failed dramatically with very severe consequences, particularly on the most vulnerable groups. On the other hand, a strong desire for solidarity and human dignity has been claimed by citizens. Civil society now has the opportunity to start a new reflection and play an important role in maintaining social cohesion.

During the discussion, participants concluded that while the current pandemic poses a number of unprecedented challenges to civil society in the Neighbourhood South region, it also creates valuable opportunities which need to be seized. The crisis could open up the possibility for CSOs to reiterate concerns in the field of economic and social rights, political corruption, digital rights, migration policies, security policies, gender issues, climatic and social consequences.

Each thematic is structured around three rounds of webinars. The first round follows up on recommendations previously made as part of the MAJALAT process; the second focuses on capacity-building to deepen civil society’s knowledge of EU policies, while the third discusses the impact of the crisis on each thematic as well as recommendations to EU representatives. Participants include actors from various civil society organisations (CSOs) from the Neighbourhood South region as well as from EU countries.

The first round of webinars ended on 12 June. This round resulted in the formulation of new recommendations based on those adopted during the 2019 Brussels Civil Society Forum and taking into account the circumstances of the current sanitary crisis.

A second round of webinars, led by an independent expert and held in the form of interactive training sessions, started on 23 June. This round focuses on capacity-building to deepen civils society’s knowledge of EU policies in specific areas. It will help CSOs better formulate and target their demands, which will allow for a more structured dialogue between them and the EU.