Journalists alone cannot save journalism, and civil society activists and human rights
defenders cannot alone defend civil space.
This is why multi-stakeholder coalitions, as well as regional and international networks, constitute an essential pathway to identify and deliver solutions to the complex challenges confronting both media systems and civil society. Coalitions can provide opportunities for media and civil society to work in a more strategic and coordinated manner on relevant issues, and to build the political will needed to sustain progress.
A free and vibrant media and civil society are no doubt key agents of democracy. However, the media and rights-based civil society organisations’ activities are often the first to be restricted when democracy is under attack. The ability of these organisations to withstand these restrictions and deliver on their respective mandates is therefore vital. This ability is compromised by a number of factors, such as professionalism of the organisations; their sustainability and independence; the availability and diversity of their resources; their access to security ; the reliability of their communication; their access to community narratives; the strength of their networks; the efficacy of their structure; the support they enjoy and the capacity they have for collaboration and joint action.
As a response to these needs, the “Consortium for Human Rights and Media in Africa (CHARM)-project” was initiated in December 2019, funded by the Swedish Development Cooperation (Sida). It brings together six regional partners namely Fojo Media Institute, Wits Journalism, CIVICUS, Civil Rights Defenders, Defend Defenders and Hub Afrique.
With joint actions, the aim is to strengthen coalition building between civil society, media and human rights defenders in sub-Saharan Africa. The project facilitates collaborations between existing like-minded organisations, aspiring to meet the growing need for media, civil society and human rights organisations to think strategically and ally with research institutions, policy organisations, thinktanks and actors in the digital sphere that have the ability to contribute with new skills and experiences.
This anthology People, power, truth is an important part of this ongoing effort. It brings together the thoughts of different thinkers in the media space, civil organisations and human rights activists. It is also a starting point for a CHARM think tank that will display good practices and ideas on coalition building.
It is our hope that these articles will serve to stimulate thoughts and debate and lead to discussions and deliberation between civil society activists, media practitioners, private sector and government representative on how to engage in coalitions, jointly building democratic and sustainable structures for the well-being of our societies.
1 March 2021