The OECD’s work on civic space is anchored in the OECD Recommendation on Open Government and, as such, civic space is understood as an essential facilitator of open government reforms and good governance more broadly. Related activities were drawn together and branded as the OECD Observatory of Civic Space in 2019 to increase the visibility of current and planned work in this area. Since then, OECD Members have explicitly recognised the need to protect and promote civic space as part of Pillar 2 of the OECD Building Trust and Reinforcing Democracy Initiative on enhancing participation, representation and openness in public life.

Fifty-two OECD Members and non-Members voluntarily opted into participating in relevant sections of the 2020 OECD Survey on Open Government, which yielded the baseline of comparative government data that underpin this report. The OECD Secretariat benefitted from strong engagement from the Working Party on Open Government and the Public Governance Committee throughout this endeavour.

The report yields a vast evidence base on the status of civic space, with an emphasis on legal frameworks, policies, strategies and institutional arrangements, as well as challenges, implementation gaps and good practices, to offer a full and nuanced overview of the different dimensions of civic space. Key trends and recent developments in national and international standards feature alongside the governmental perspective. The report provides guidance on strengthening alignment with these standards and suggests associated measures to safeguard civic space. The findings of the report will serve as important guidelines for the future work of the Secretariat in this area.

The Public Governance Committee approved the chapters of this report in November 2022.

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