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Promoting and Respecting Civic Freedoms: Serious Business for Sustainable Development
Torsdag 17 November 2016, 12:30 - 16:00

The 2030 Agenda recognizes in Goal 16 that sustainable development requires accountable institutions, rule of law, respect for fundamental freedoms, and peaceful and inclusive societies.


Yet, the right to form an association, to assemble peacefully, and to speak freely is seriously restricted in at least 109 countries. This undermines civil society’s important contributions to the new sustainable development agenda: a vibrant civil society is critical for freedom, economic growth and prosperity.  The absence of respect for basic civil freedoms undermines long-term stability and the effective use of both investments and development funds.



“The presence of a robust vocal

civil society sector almost without

exception, guarantees that a state

also possesses a good business

environment… The rule of law is

stronger, transparency is greater

and markets are less tainted with

corruption. In other words, when

civil society does well, business

does well too.”


Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur

on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association


Governments have an interest in protecting civic freedoms and equal opportunities for citizens to join forces and to share and develop new ideas. Both society and business stand to gain from this - and the likelihood is that rule of law is better respected and corruption and non-transparent institutions are challenged.


Welcome to this debate on how Denmark can help promote civic freedoms in the interest of advancing human rights and how this positively affects business climate as well. The conference will include presentations by, among others, Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; Martin Bille Hermann, State Secretary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ursula Wynhoven from UN Global Compact, Peder Tuborgh, CEO at Arla and Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen, DanChurchAid.


In line with the 2013 Agenda this conference offers an opportunity to bring together actors across different sectors – the UN, Business and Civil Society, Danish politicians and Danish government representatives to address what we can do to address this challenge together. Among other things, the debate will focus on how Denmark plans to promote civic freedoms in its new Development Policy and National Action Plan on the Sustainable Development Goals.


Please register below.


The conference will be in English. The program may be subject to change.


This event has been arranged by Global Focus with DanChurchAid and other civil society organisations in a Global Focus working group - in co-operation with UNDP and the Danish Foreign Policy Society


Address: FN Byen - Marmorvej 51, 2100 København Ø.


Moderator: Verner Kristiansen


11.45-12.30:    Arrival - Coffee and Tea. Lunch can be bought in the UN City canteen.


12.30-12.45:    Welcome and Introductory Remarks – Global Focus and Sarah Lister, Director of Oslo Governance Centre, UNDP.

Civic Freedoms - Introductory Case Videos (5 minutes)


12.45-14.15:    Civic Freedoms - Serious Business for Sustainable Development


Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

Civic freedom is serious business. Global trends in civic freedoms and the operational environment for civil society compared to the private sector. How can we better promote the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association?


Martin Bille Hermann, State Secretary for Development Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Support to the implementation of SDG 16 in the new Danish development policy.


Naly Pilorge, Director, The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights.

How increasing restrictions on civil freedoms affect equitable and stable development in Cambodia?


Ursula Wynhoven, Chief, Social, Governance, Legal, UN Global Compact.

How can business engage in promoting civic freedom? Global Compact´s Business for the rule of law framework



14.15-14.45:    Coffee Break.


14.45-15.50:    Promoting Civic Freedoms – Addressing the Challenge Across Sectors


Peder Tuborgh, CEO, Arla.

Sustainable Development Goal 16 and Business for the Rule of Law Framework. What are the experiences of ARLA? What is the importance of civil society seen from the perspective of the private sector?


Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen, Secretary General, DanChurchAid.

What should Denmark and the Danish government do to further this agenda in its bilateral and multilateral engagements – seen from the perspective of civil society organisations? What could the role of the private sector and civil society be?


Sarah Lister, Director, Oslo Governance Centre.

On Working for Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. What is the importance of civil society seen from the perspective of UNDP?


Mette Gjerskov, Spokesperson for Development, Social Democratic Party.

How should Denmark promote civic freedoms – in its new Development Policy and National Action Plan on the Sustainable Development Goals?


15.50-16.00:    Concluding Remarks - Global Focus.


Registration deadline: November 14.

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