From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
CIVICUS: World Alliance For Citizen Participation
TypeInternational Non-profit/ Civil Society Organisation
HeadquartersJohannesburg, South Africa
ServicesMembership Alliance
Lysa John

CIVICUS is an international non-profit organisation, which describes itself as “a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world."[1] Founded in 1993, the organisation today counts more than 8500 members in more than 175 countries, with its headquarters in Johannesburg and offices in Geneva and New York.[2]

Brief history[edit]

In 1991, an international group of 20 leaders from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and social movements met to explore how to support citizen participation in governmental decision-making processes.[3] This process culminated in 1993 when a founding board established CIVICUS from the Latin term meaning "of the community".[4]

Mission and values[edit]

The organisation works to protect and grow civic space where people can express and organise themselves.[5] In particular, the organisation focuses on regions where participatory democracy and freedom of association are at risk.[6] CIVICUS counts among its central values: Justice and Equality, where all people are free to exercise their rights as citizens as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[7]

Civil society/third sector of society[edit]

Described as ‘the third sector’ of society, civil society is the main focus and target of CIVICUS. Its main projects and programmes are aimed at strengthening and serving civil society especially in the Global South. On its website, CIVICUS describes civil society as broad and that it “covers non-governmental organisations, activists, civil society coalitions and networks, protest and social movements, voluntary bodies, campaigning organisations, charities, faith-based groups, trade unions and philanthropic foundations.” These groups, individuals and organisations make up the CIVICUS membership.


In an open letter of 25 July 2022 addressed to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, CIVICUS sought the UN chief's intervention to protect human rights in Nicaragua. The letter raised concerns over the continuous attacks on civil society organisations by the President Daniel Ortega's regime and his Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) party. CIVICUS also urged its members to sign the letter which was available online.[8]


In service of its mission and values, the organisation's primary areas of activity are:

Structure and Governance[edit]

CIVICUS has approximately 70 members of staff and is led by Lysa John who replaces Dr Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, who led the organisation from January 2013 to December 2018. Previous Secretary Generals of the organisation also include Miklos Marschall (Hungary), Kumi Naidoo (South Africa) and Ingrid Srinath (India)

The governing body of CIVICUS is an International Board of 13 civil society leaders from 13 countries.[12]


Revenue to support the operations of CIVICUS is derived from multiple sources, including institutional funders, individual contributions, membership fees, and registration fees for the CIVICUS World Assembly. Aggregated income from 2017/2018 was roughly US$9.6 million.[13]

In 2017/2018[14],CIVICUS received funding for its projects and core support, from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Ford Foundation and the European Commission.


Since its establishment in 1993, CIVICUS has built successively on its core programmatic activities.

  • 1994: Production of first regional reports on the state of civil society.
  • 1995: First World Assembly in Mexico City.[15] The organisation has later gone on to hold 10 World Assemblies which have brought together thousands of activists to discuss and take action on the most pressing issues affecting civil society.
  • 2000: Kumi Naidoo joins CIVICUS as secretary general.
  • 2001-2002: Pilot phase of the Civil Society Index (CSI) analyses the state of civil society across a wide range of countries. Since its inception this research project has engaged thousands of stakeholders to exchange information across a total of 75 countries.[16]
  • 2003: Headquarters move from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 2004: Launch of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) with CIVICUS as a key partner.
  • 2005: Organises first Nelson Mandela- Graça Machel Innovation Awards to recognize leading achievements of grassroots organisations.
  • 2011: Produces first annual State of Civil Society Report which provides an assessment of the operating environments for NGOs, global governance and legislative trends affecting civil liberties.
  • 2013/ 2014: Start of International Civil Society Week in Johannesburg under the theme “Citizen action. People power”
  • 2016: ICSW in Bogota, Colombia “Active citizens, Accountable Actions”
  • 2017: CIVICUS Monitor begins rating the state of civic freedoms in 196 countries
  • 2019: ICSW  in Belgrade, Serbia: “Power of Togetherness”


  1. ^ "2014 CIVICUS Annual Report" (PDF). CIVICUS. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 September 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Calls for Azerbaijan to end crackdown on civil society and uphold Council of Europe Commitments". Civic Solidarity. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Getting a world alliance started – my four years at CIVICUS". Alliance Magazine. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Reaching across sectors and building bridges" (PDF). Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 April 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  5. ^ "CIVICUS Our Strategic Priorities 2013- 2017" (PDF). CIVICUS. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Volunteering and Social Activism" (PDF). United Nations Volunteers Organisation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  7. ^ International Encyclopaedia of Civil Society. Springer. 2009-12-16. ISBN 9780387939940. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Serious concerns over ongoing violations of human rights in Nicaragua and lack of accountability for perpetrators". Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  9. ^ "State of Civil Society Report 2014" (PDF). CIVICUS. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Građanske Inicijative | ICSW 2019". Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  11. ^ "The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator is an important investment in our future | Bush Center". The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator is an important investment in our future | Bush Center. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  12. ^ "Board of Directors". CIVICUS. Archived from the original on 3 June 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  13. ^ "CIVICUS ANNUAL REPORT 2017–2018" (PDF).
  14. ^ "CIVICUS ANNUAL REPORT 2017/2018" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Participedia", Wikipedia