World We Want 2015: Voices-Voix taking part in the online discussion

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Posted by Pearl Eliadis on November 21, 2012 

Voices-Voix is a non-partisan national coalition of 217 respected Canadian organizations including Amnesty International Canada (English), the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and Oxfam Canada, as well as human rights lawyers and advocates. Voices-Voix was created in 2010 in response to mounting concern about the contraction of legal and public space for the operation of civil society, international cooperation and human rights groups. It has garnered more than 4500 individual signatures supporting its principles.

Democratic governance requires a diverse and robust civil society. Meeting the Millennium Development Goals is a shared task, and civil society plays an important part. Governments should provide enabling environments for this to occur. For developed countries whose international cooperation work is instrumental to supporting the developing world and HIPCs achieve their goals, the legal and operational space for CSOs to operate is fundamental.

In recent years, however, the government of Canada has been been consciously constricting that public space. Voices-Voix has been documenting this campaign against critics and opponents, a campaign which includes undercutting the capacity of CSOs to raise funds, stripping organizations of their charitable status, placing human rights defenders under surveillance, and undermining the reputations of individuals and organizations through personal and public vilification. Organizations that have had their funding cut or substantially cut have been ordered not to speak out about their experiences.

The purpose of this communication is to (a) signal the principles of democratic governance in Canada that are at play in relation to an enabling environment for progressive CSOs and activists, including those dealing with international cooperation, maternal health and gender equality and other issues relevant to the MDGs and (2) to illustrate how Voices-Voix has organised, to document and speak out about these developments, within its own community, to Canadians and to the international community. with these objectives in mind, the first section will set out the background to the issues dealt with here, and a particular relevance to Democratic governance and achieving development goals. (...)

To read the entire contribution on the online platform The World We Want 2015, please click on the link below.