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21 May 2024 - FCDO and civil societies - Oral evidence

Committee International Development Committee
Inquiry FCDO and civil societies

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Start times: 2:00pm (private) 2:30pm (public)

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How can FCDO support democracy and civil society around the world, and help safeguard human rights defenders?

Civil society and civic space are under threat in many places around the world. Fully 72% of the global population lives under authoritarian regimes, with one in six people currently exposed to conflict and more than 114 million people displaced globally.

Conflict-related deaths are at their highest in decades, with civilian casualties up 62% in 2023, while global military spending rose a record $2.2 trillion.

In this second session of IDC’s inquiry into supporting and strengthening civil society in UK aid recipient countries the Committee will first question the International Foundation for Electoral Systems on its training programmes across the world aimed at strengthening civil society and democracy, and Amnesty International on best practice to help safeguard human rights defenders.

Meeting details

At 2:30pm: Oral evidence
Inquiry FCDO and civil societies
Country Director, Tunisia at International Foundation for Electoral Systems
Head of Government and Political Relations at Amnesty International
At 3:15pm: Oral evidence
Inquiry FCDO and civil societies
Former High Commissioner to Ghana and Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Niger
Former Ambassador to Yemen

In the second panel, former ambassadors will offer insight from their experience of the FCDO’s approach to strengthening civil society. What guidance exists for UK representatives abroad for engaging with civil society organisations in hostile environments? After the Committee heard evidence that it’s simply too expensive for many civil society organisations even to complete the necessary applications for UK aid funding pots, what role do embassy staff play in allocating those funds?

Questioning across the two panels will cover: 

  • How FCDO can best work to safeguard human rights defenders around the world, who are often risking their own lives to protect others
  • Protecting and strengthening democracy and expanding the shrinking civic space across the world
  • The role of UK embassies in promoting and strengthening civil society
  • The funding streams assistance accessing them that embassies can offer to civil society organisations 
  • The wider benefits of strengthened civil societies around the world


The Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

How to attend