In the aftermath of the 2013 elections, which confirmed Robert Mugabe’s grip on power and shut out the highly divided opposition, Zimbabwean civil society has been struggling to find relevance. The unified social forces that gave rise to the democratization agenda in 1999 are severely depleted, and the impetus for reform ran its course with the adoption of a new constitution. Formal organized labor is no longer in existence, the Movement for Democratic Change and civil society organizations (CSOs) trade blame for the failure of the democratic project. For CSOs, the primary question is how they can best engage with one another and other actors in the current state of predatory rule.
In his presentation, Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Arthur Gwagwa will evaluate CSOs’ democracy work both in collaboration with and outside of political party structures, and the ways in which this work has either resisted or perpetuated authoritarianism. He will offer recommendations for continued domestic engagement and strategies for enhancing international support of Zimbabwean democracy.
Arthur Gwagwa is a human rights attorney who heads the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, based in London. In the nineties, he was among the first lawyers to offer pro bono representation to victims of rights violations through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights network. In 2002, he went into exile in the United Kingdom, when his work representing the politically persecuted and dispossessed brought him to the adverse attention of the authorities. While based in the United Kingdom, Mr. Gwagwa has represented refugees at the Refugee Legal Centre and has continued advancing the cause of human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe. During his fellowship, he is working on a policy document on how enhancing civil society engagement can strengthen democratic culture and electoral integrity in Zimbabwe.
The International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy
cordially invites you to a presentation entitled
How Civil Society Engagement Can Strengthen Democracy in Zimbabwe
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
with comments by
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
International Forum for Democratic Studies
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m. 1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004 Telephone: 202-378-9675 RSVP (acceptances only) with name and affiliation by Friday, January 9
Livestream of the event will be available here.
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