Countering Growing Authoritarianism Requires a Robust Civil Society, Media & Academia

by Margee Ensign at IPS: (C)ountering growing authoritarianism requires a bigger, more interconnected ecosystem of robust civil society, media, and academia, each of which underpin democratic values and an informed citizenry, and connect the individual to the state.

They are the institutions which nurture and amplify the voices daring to speak out against tyranny. They incubate grassroots movements pushing back against disinformation, and demanding accountability.

Universities are a key part of this mix. In the struggle to preserve freedom, they can’t stand above the political fray. They must embrace their crucial role in building courageous citizenship and equipping students to think critically and serve the higher good…

We therefore should be deliberate about globalizing independent journalism and courageous citizenship. Universities must make it part of their mission to nurture them, and governments and civil society need to consciously protect journalists and activists.

It’s getting more and more dangerous to be either. Youth activists engaging on social media have never been more at risk. Killings of environmental activists are at record highs. Recently more journalists died in Palestine in three months than were ever killed in a single country in a whole year.

When journalists are murdered for doing their jobs, nine out of ten times the killer walks free. So groups advocating for journalists are calling for stepped up prevention, protection, and prosecution of their attackers.

Such measures aren’t acts of charity; they are necessary, strategic defense of the infrastructure of democracy, which is under attack from disinformation campaigns. International awards and recognition, multilateral legal instruments, and diplomatic pressure are necessary but often insufficient…

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