Shrinking Civic Space: How It Plays Out in Asia and How We Should Deal with It




06:00 p.m. (UTC)

Picture of demonstrators
© Reuters / Venus Wu

  • “Shrinking civic space” has become a catchphrase for a deeply worrying global phenomenon that can be observed in different political regimes across the globe. At its core is the wilful reduction of political and human rights as well as civil liberties. Increasingly restrictive regulations and the harassment and public vilification of individuals and organisations are but some of its manifestations. Local civil society organisations, including NGOs, have borne the brunt of relevant state-directed or state-instigated activities. But the phenomenon also poses severe and urgent challenges to Western and international organisations involved in democracy promotion, development, and other cooperation with local partners in the affected countries. Shrinking civic space comes in different stripes and colours, taking on different local manifestations, but in any case limits domestic and international actors’ room for manoeuvre.

    In this GIGA Talk we will discuss how shrinking civic space is playing out in various parts of Asia and what can be done in the face of it. We will address the contours of the phenomenon, its recent manifestations in Mainland China, Thailand and the Philippines, and possible strategies for those affected in different ways by it.

    Speakers: Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Assistant Professor, Thammasat University, Bangkok, and Associate, GIGA Institute for Asian Studies Bertram Lang, Research Fellow, Goethe University Frankfurt

    Commentary: Katrin Altmeyer, Director, Asia Department, Heinrich Böll Foundation

    Moderation: Prof. Dr. Patrick Köllner, GIGA Vice President and Director of the GIGA Institute for Asian Studies

    Please confirm your attendance by 1 October 2018 by sending an e-mail to

    The Chatham House Rule applies to this event. Unfortunately, the venue is not wheelchair accessible.


    GIGA Berlin, Berlin




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