Webinar organised by UN Human Rights - Special Procedures Branch



"In the shadow of COVID-19: Lessons learned on civic space and public freedoms"

Date: Thursday 9th July 2020

Time: 16.00 – 17.30 CET

Governments' public health responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have put a renewed focus on restrictions to key public freedoms, such as the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression. These measures have in some cases adversely impacted civic space, understood as the space in which people participate in public life by speaking out and mobilising to influence decisions, including online. Despite this difficult context, civic space and civil society more broadly has a crucial role to play in supporting governments in their response to the unprecedented challenges presented by the current pandemic.

Watch the webinar by UN Human Rights - Special Procedures Branch, "In the shadow of COVID-19: Lessons learned on civic space and public freedoms". Against the backdrop of COVID-19, international experts explore the nexus between civic space and pandemics, and identify lessons learned which can help ensure public health responses to pandemics strike the right balance on civic space and public freedoms.

Guest speakers include UN Special Rapporteurs on key public freedoms and representatives of civil society.

Programme:

16.00 – 16.05: Opening remarks

Christine Mardirossian, European Commission, DG DEVCO, Unit B1 - Gender Equality, Human Rights and Democratic Governance

Panel 1: Civic space experiences from the Covid-19 pandemic

This panel will consider examples of how civic space has been restricted during the Covid—19 pandemic, and the implications of these measures for civic space and civil society more broadly. It will also explore the ways in which civic space has been important in responding effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic.

16:05 – 16:30: (Moderator: Dragana Korljan, Head of Unit, Special Procedures Branch, OHCHR)

Panelists:

  • Mary Lawlor (UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders)
  • Clément Nyaletsossi Voule (UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association)
  • David Kaye (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression)
  • Shalini Eddens (Senior Program Director, Urgent Action Fund)
  • Nicoline Wazeh Tumasang (Chair, Cameroon Women's Peace Movement (CAWOPEM))

16:30 – 16:45: Q&A

Panel 2: Looking to the future: what lessons have been learned so far? Striking the right balance on civic space in pandemic responses.

This panel will seek to identify measures which could help ensure that public health responses to the ongoing and future pandemics support and leverage civil society actors and civic space, and that any restrictions are in line with international human rights norms. It will consider questions such as:

  • How can the right to freedom of expression, including the right to access information, be ensured while protecting individuals and communities from hate speech and disinformation?
  • What measures should be taken to ensure that the right to peacefully assemble can be exercised safely and without undue restrictions during pandemics, including online?
  • How to ensure, and support, the participation of civil society in pandemic responses?

16:45 – 17:10: (Moderator: Federica Donati, Head of Unit, Special Procedures Branch, OHCHR)

Panelists:

  • Mary Lawlor (UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders)
  • Clément Nyaletsossi Voule (UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association)
  • David Kaye (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression)
  • Susan Wilding, Head of Geneva office, Civicus
  • Patricia Melendez, Head of Civic Space, Article 19

17:10 – 17:25: Q&A

17:25 – 17:30: Closing remarks (Birgit Kainz, Head of Civic Space Unit, OHCHR)