Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 23, 2011

I’m delighted to welcome all of you to this important Global Forum on Civil Society Law. Many of you here are on the front lines, promoting democracy and fundamental rights in your countries. I want to thank you for your courage and your commitment.

Civil society can be a force for progress around the world. We know that when citizens come together to stand up for human rights and serve the common good, nations advance. But too often and in too many places, governments are treating activists as adversaries rather than partners.

We are deeply troubled by the proliferation of laws that clamp down on the work of civil society. And we are committed to working with you to help respond to this challenge.

In collaboration with many of you and the Community of Democracies, we’ve established an alert system to spur a global response when laws threaten civic space. We’ve created a new “Lifeline” fund to support embattled NGOs. We’re sharing technology and tools with activists to help make their work safer and more effective. And we’re supporting the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, so civil society can have access to world-class legal expertise when dealing with these challenges.

Together, we’re making real progress. But there is still a lot more to do. So I want to thank you for your continued commitment to this cause, and I hope that over the next two days you’ll develop new tools to defend the work of civil society groups around the world.