Civil society's role in human rights-friendly law-making: experiences, successes and challenges

Monday, April 26, 2021 - 18:00


Side event at the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting ‘Democratic Law-Making: Ensuring Participation’

Monday 26 April 2021, 18:00 – 19:00 CET

A massive amount of advice is available to governments and law makers on producing laws that do not harm human rights and that will produce real human rights progress. This includes reports by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and advice from OSCE/ODIHR.

Yet active and committed involvement of citizens is often needed for this advice to receive the necessary attention in the law-making process. Indeed, procedures are not uncommon to prevent civil society actors from pushing for advice based on internationally agreed human rights standards to be taken seriously.

While space for civil society to contribute effectively to the law-making process was in many countries already narrowing before 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has further affected the possibility for citizen involvement and proper discussion in society. This is true both for legislation specifically relating to handling the disease, and for the normal legislative process. In a number of cases it appears that governments have abused the cover of the Covid-19 emergency to push through repressive steps unrelated to the disease, adding to existing trends towards authoritarianism.

The side event, pulled together by the Civic Solidarity Platform and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, will review how in recent times in a number of countries civil society has been able or not been able to play a role in safeguarding human rights standards in new legislation. Speakers from civil society organisations that have been invited to participate from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and the Netherlands.

Come and hear how anti-corruption screening of legislative proposals, even though enshrined in law, is neglected. Come and hear how the time period between publication and parliamentary treatment of legislative proposals is squeezed to a ridiculous minimum. Come and hear how ruling by decree can little by little become normalized, in the process flouting international human rights standards. Come and hear how when a qualified majority for constitutional change cannot be attained, other avenues are tried to achieve the same result. Come and hear how independent reporting on health matters has been criminalized. And come and hear also about a number of successes of civil society in fighting improper, human rights defying legislation.

Moderation: Antanina Maslyka, Civic Solidarity Platform Secretariat & Netherlands Helsinki Committee


  • Elena Shakhova, Citizen’s Watch, Russia
  • Oleksandra Romantsova, Center for Civil Liberties, Ukraine
  • Feray Salman, Human Rights Joint Platform, Turkey
  • András Kadar, Hungarian Helsinki Committee
  • Marcin Wolny, Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
  • Harry Hummel, Netherlands Helsinki Committee

Working languages: English and Russian (with simultaneous interpretation)

Access to the event: The side-event will be held online. Access information will be shared with registered SHDM participants at Please log-in to access the link.

The side-event will also be streamed on the CSP Facebook page.