International Conference: Claiming Civic Space Together

IMS to debate use of online technologies to restrict freedom of expression and adequate response mechanisms at international conference 4-5 March in Copenhagen

Date: Monday, 4 March – Tuesday, 5 March 2019.
Venue: GAME, Enghavevej 82D, 2450 Copenhagen SV, Denmark
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At the international conference “Claiming Civic Space Together – Joint strategies to ensure development and humanitarian action” on 4-5 March 2019 in Copenhagen, NGOs, government and private sector representatives will examine the most effectful joint responses to tools used by authorities and power groups to stifle civic space and freedom of expression. The conference is organised by Danish civil society organisations including IMS under the auspices of the Global Focus NGO network and hosted by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

IMS’ session Monday, 4 March from 12:30 to 15:15 (including break):

#MediaToo – “How online technologies are used to restrict freedom of expression and independent media – and how we respond”

Over the last few years, the world has seen how both authoritarian governments and powerholders have used the internet and social media to curtail access to information and freedom of the press through various tactics. By combining tactics such as blocking content with automated social media accounts, online harassment/trolling of human rights defender and spreading partisan or outright disinformation, they have stifled discourse in civil society and eroded trust in independent news media – the bedrock of democracy.
An informed public with access to information that can hold decisionmakers to account is a precondition for fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals. We will discuss how these various methods to close the space for freedom of expression, independent media and civil society are often used in conjunction with each other. Through examples in Egypt and Asia, we will examine how public and private sector entities, broader civil society including media and democratic governments can strengthen their joint response.

Meet our panelists:

  • Daniel Arnaudo, Senior Programme Manager at National Democratic Institute & author of ”A new wave of censorship – distributed attacks on expression and press freedom”
  • Thomas Nikolaj Hansen, Team leader and senior adviser, Civil Society department Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Sharif Abdel Kouddous, senior journalist, Mada Masr, independent online media, Middle East
  • Emilie Lehmann-Jacobsen, IMS’ Asia and digital freedom advisor
  • Moderator: Gulnara Akhundova, IMS Head of Global Response

For more information about this session, contact Helle Wahlberg, Head of Communications,

Sign up here

IMS Session two, Monday, 4 March, 12:30 – 15:15:

Gender and LGBTIQ+ Specific Challenges and Responses

Women human rights defenders and LGBTQI+ defenders, as well as others fighting for gender equality, face multiple layers of civic space restrictions because they challenge existing gender norms and behaviors that enable sexism and gender discrimination. They face criminalization of advocacy work, social stigmatization, public slandering, threats of rape and other gender-based intimidations for engaging in civic action and being outspoken. Radical conservative voices are physically and verbally attacking them for this activism with claims that women should stay silent in their homes and not interfere with politics, which is seen as a male domain. The workshop will discuss what kind of counter tactics are necessary to deal with this double layered harassment faced by people fighting for LGBTIQ+ rights, women’s rights and gender equality. We have invited people who are experiencing civic space restrictions because of who they are and the human rights they fight for to share their thoughts on what we can all do to counter this trend.


  • Samaa Et-Turkey, Egypt
  • Christine Ocan Atim, Uganda
  • Aya Ali, Jordan

For more information about this session, contact Helle Wahlberg, Head of Communications,

Other thematic tracks include:

  • #MediaToo: Shrinking Space for Independent Media and Freedom of Expression (organised by International Media Support)
  • How to Engage with Religious Actors in Building and Defending Civic Space
  • Private Sector and Civic Space
  • Gender and LGBTIQ+ Specific Challenges and Responses (co-organised by IMS)
  • Children and Young People as Civic Actors
  • Civic Space for Environmental and Indigenous Human Rights Defenders
  • Role of National Human Rights Institutes
  • Civic Space in Humanitarian Action

For more information, please contact, Sara Katrine Brandt, Civil Society Advisor at Global Focus, at