In large parts of the world, poverty is decreasing, more children are going to school and standards of hygiene and health are improving. At the same time, however, human rights and democratic processes are under pressure in many countries. The gap between rich and poor is widening and critical voices are being silenced. Some countries are for example applying strict laws that make it difficult for journalists and human rights defenders to speak up against the government or companies. A stronger civil society can contribute to an open society and boost democracy and the rule of law.
The Netherlands supports civil society organisations in protecting and raising their voices for equality, human rights and democratic processes, with a particular focus on women’s rights and gender equality. Civil society organisations like trade unions, human rights and environmental organisations play a vital role in informing people, advocating for rights and expressing people’s concerns. They also act as bridges between structurally excluded or discriminated groups, companies and the authorities. They make authorities, companies and communities aware of their responsibility to implement laws, respect rights and pursue the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This makes civil society organisations important partners in the implementation of Dutch policy. This theme focuses on the results achieved under the Dialogue and Dissent policy framework, which is focused on strengthening an independent civil society and its contribution, to a more sustainable and inclusive society.