Fight back! : youth civil society in endangered democracies

“Fight back! : youth civil society in endangered democracies” aims at addressing the worrying, recent trends of shrinking civic space in many European democracies and the various attacks by governments on civil society organisations (CSO). JEF strongly believes in the role of civil society as bridge-builder between the political decision-makers and the citizens. We advocate for the systematic involvement and consultation of CSO in decision-making procedures for the sake of healthy democracies. Civil society represents an essential channel for citizens to actively exercise their citizenship, to draw the attention of public authorities on specific issues and to autonomously conduct civic actions.

To summarize, the general aim of this work plan is to develop skills, knowledge and competences about the shrinking of civic space and about the means of resistance to attacks on civil society rights among participants and further through a large campaign and dissemination.

Specific objectives are:

  • to raise awareness on the situation of civic space and democracy in Europe
  • to develop knowledge, competences and skills to resist to attacks on civil society rights
  • to foster exchange of experiences, good practices and ideas in the context of endangered democracies between participants.

This work plan has been developed in a coherent manner, considering the past project and actions of JEF. For 8 consecutive years JEF Europe have organised the pan-European “Free Belarus Action” across Europe to condemn the last dictatorship in Europe. In 2014, JEF launched the Democracy under Pressure campaign to react in face of the rise of nationalism and extremist parties. Drawing on from these experiences and successes, we intend to further tackle these issues through our 2018 work plan.

"Fight back! Setting the scene", Jan 31st - Feb 4th, Skopje, Macedonia

“Fight back! Setting the scene” was the first seminar of 2018 “Fight back: Youth civil society in endangered democracies” work plan of JEF Europe. It took place from January 31st to February 4th in Skopje, Macedonia.

It focused on developing an understanding about civic space in Europe, by analysing the recent attacks on civil society across Europe, as well as understand the factors that lead to existential threat for certain youth organisations in the continent.

"Fight back! Communicating in a hostile environment", May 2nd-6th, Jena, Germany

EF Thüringen hosted the second international seminar of our 2018 work plan The main aim of this activity was to provide the participants with knowledge, skills and attitudes to better tackle disinformation, as well as communicate in an unfavorable environment.

Understanding disinformation with EU DisinfoLab, presentation of the No Hate Speech Movement campaign by Council of Europe, experts’ talk with Gerrit Huchtemann, president of JEF Thuringen on European engagement and queer activism in Thuringia and Christopher Roettgers, Vice president of Deutscher Bundesjugendring on the German youth council current perspective, enhancing our public speaking skills and working on a communication strategy.

“Fight back! Rallying forces and getting into action” June 30th – July 4th, Saariselkä, Lapland, Finland

The third activity of the work plan took place in Finland, Lapland and took form of a seminar focusing on advocacy and community building in the area of shrinking civic space.

The main aim of this activity was to provide the participants with knowledge, skills and attitudes to become actively engaged in the community focusing on the topic of endangered democracies, as well as create a community of young people contributing to the rule of law and democracy in Europe.