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.
Popular protests that erupted in Vietnam in 2016 after a toxic spill by a Taiwanese steel factory have shown that environmental-focused campaigns can engage and mobilise the public to resist authoritarian practices, create a cohesive public voice and help build collective power.
Authoritarian politics have risen in the context of profound political, economic, social and ecological insecurity caused by corporate-led globalisation. The movement for economic localisation has the potential to unite communities, disarm authoritarian politicians, restore democracy and build a real economy based on sustainable use of natural resources.
Nikolai Huke, David Bailey, Mònica Clua-Losada, Julia Lux, Olatz Ribera Almandoz
02 Mayo 2018
EU institutions and governments responded to the Eurozone crisis with a combination of austerity and authoritarianism that increased precarity and eroded liberal democracy. However, a survey of social movements shows that this technocratic depoliticization was only partially successful as the increasing exclusion of people from democratic decision-making also sparked novel forms of organizing that have opened up potential avenues for radical social change.
Through the experience of working with kids from Brazil’s favelas (shanty-towns) telling their stories, two film-makers explore how the rise of the authoritarian right in Brazil is based on a deep fear by elites of social mobility and a desire to preserve their traditional privileges through both physical as well as political walls.
Hungary was once praised as an example of successful democratisation and EU integration, but now has joined the ranks of ‘liberal’ nations backsliding into authoritarianism. Many commentators blame Orbán and his anti-migrant, anti-EU populist rhetoric, but ignore the underlying causes in particular the failings of market reforms in the country, high unemployment, low wages, spiraling household debts, and a nationalist capitalist class resentful of the advantages given to their transnational capitalist competitors.
In June 2017, 35 researchers and activists from 20 countries joined TNI staff in Amsterdam to examine the new wave of authoritarian politics spreading worldwide and how movements committed to social and ecological justice might best challenge it. This report highlights some of the core themes and debates that emerged.
Ben Hayes, Frank Barat, Isabelle Geuskens, Nick Buxton, Fiona Dove, Francesco Martone, Hannah Twomey, Semanur Karaman
07 Abril 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’.
This briefing updates the July 2016 report ‘Border Wars: the arms dealers profiting from Europe’s refugee tragedy’ . It shows that the European policy response to the refugee tragedy continues to provide a booming border security market for Europe’s arms and security firms, some of whom are involved in selling arms to the Middle East and North Africa and all of whom encourage European policies focused on keeping refugees out. It’s a win-win for the security corporations, but the cost is a deadly toll for migrants forced into ever more dangerous routes as they flee wars, conflict and oppression.