In many countries civil society is to be under pressure. Collective citizens' efforts, especially when they have political salience, seem to be regarded with increasing suspicion and even to be actively countered in many states. Anti-NGO laws, arbitrary inspections and even harassment and criminalization all strike at the roots of civic space.

Is this part of a trend of "reverse transitions", in which countries slide away from democracy? Or is this maybe a wider trend, of which reflections can also be observed in more established democracies? What are the possible causes of this shrinking or closing civic space, how does the closing manifest itself, and what are the linkages to human rights?

This research project will focus on anti-NGO measures, particularly in Europe (but as part of a broader global trend). The project will also encompass media freedom and public protest as two areas in which the same shrinking space phenomenon can be observed.