Ben Hayes, Frank Barat, Isabelle Geuskens, Nick Buxton, Fiona Dove, Francesco Martone, Hannah Twomey, Semanur Karaman
07 April 2017
Individual and collective activism is facing a global pushback from states, corporations and the Far Right. How useful is the metaphorical concept of ‘shrinking space’ to examine such repression of civic society? This report deconstructs the shrinking space narrative and critiques some of its inherent problems, particularly its conflation with ‘civic space’. Thus a Government can profess support for ‘civic space’ and human rights defender initiatives abroad, while adopting repressive domestic policies and promoting collusion with corporations that contribute to ‘shrinking space’.
A widening pattern of repression of social movements has taken shape around the world. Everywhere, space for dissent is shrinking rapidly. Governments and corporations alike are working to suppress and silence movements, organisations and individuals who organise against repression. This shrinking of public space threatens virtually all social movements. Around the world, the legality, physical safety, and public access of dissident movements and civil society more broadly are being threatened. This report examines the legal and political pressure exerted on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a global campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to end human rights violations, launched in 2005 by a group of Palestinian activists.