Tune in on Monday from 3 to 4 p.m. at whitehouse.gov/live or youtube.com/whitehouse as President Obama hosts a High Level Event on Supporting Civil Society in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
Civil society representatives play a critical role -- voicing the views of citizens, holding governments accountable, and forging solutions that improve people’s lives. For example, in Brazil, civil society recruited a thousand volunteer accountants to participate in a crowd-sourced review of the federal budget. Their work helped eliminate millions of dollars in waste. When many governments turned a blind eye, it was groups of citizen activists who organized themselves to sound the alarm and demand dignity who first generated the momentum to combat HIV-AIDS. Today, civil society groups work for and with small farmers, champion the cause of girls’ education, and run relief supplies into the most dangerous corners of Syria.
But around the world we’re increasingly seeing governments crack down on activists and advocates. They are limiting fundamental freedoms like freedom of expression and assembly by taking steps that inhibit the activities of civil society like passing laws and regulations, imposing tough registration requirements, and placing bans on external funding.
That’s why on Monday, President Obama will meet with heads of state and leaders of civil society, multilateral organizations, the philanthropic community, and the private sector to coordinate action to push back against these growing restrictions. This event marks the beginning of an intensive year-long effort to put a spotlight on the critical role civil society plays and to develop strategies to protect and defend those who seek to have a voice in their societies.
You can see the announcement and view the discussion live here from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. on September 23, 2013.