Europe and the Mediterranean: Data on immigration and asylum seekers updated on September 2015

  • 29 September 2015

Recently, the migrants disembarkation on European coasts have become a media phenomenon and a political issue for the Heads of State and Government and for the European public, creating, inevitably, divisions on the issue.

Most migrants come from conflict and war areas, especially from Syria, battered by nearly five years by a bloody civil war.

The motivation that brings these men, women children to travel to Europe is a survival instinct, while the total absence of life prospects in their lands and despair related to it pushes him to face an endless journey, full of obstacles and dangers, often fatal.

The goal of the Syrians, in particular, is the recognition by the European countries of the asylum right. It is a form of international protection given by a state on its territory. It is granted to a person who is unable to seek protection in his/her country of citizenship and/or residence, in particular for fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Recently Eurostat published data concerning the situation of asylum seekers in Europe.

The number of first time asylum applicants increased by 85 % in the second quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter of the previous year and 15 % compared to the previous quarter of 2015. Overall, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU-28 during the second quarter of 2015 reached 213 200. This was 98 100 more than in the same quarter of 2014. Out of the 228 600 total asylum applicants (i.e. including repeat applicants), 213 200 (93 %) were first time applicants.

Asylum seekers come from many countries of the world: citizens of 141 countries sought asylum for the first time in the EU in the second quarter of 2015. Syrians, Afghanis and Albanians were the top 3 citizenships of asylum seekers, lodging around 44 000, 27 000 and 17 700 applications respectively.

Syrians (22 500 more applicants compared to the second quarter of 2014) and Afghanis (20 600 more) added most to the overall increase in first time asylum applicants in absolute terms, followed by Albanians and Iraqis (13 800 and 11 500 more applicants respectively).

Asylum applicants from Iraq (nearly 6 times more) recorded the most substantial relative increase in the EU in the second quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter of 2014, followed by Kosovans (nearly 5 times more), Albanians and Afghanis (more than 4 times) and by applicants from Montenegro (more than 3 times).

Of the 44 000 Syrians who applied for the first time for asylum in the EU in the second quarter of 2015, more than three quarters were registered in four Member States: Germany (16 300), Hungary (8 400), Austria (5 300) and Sweden (3 900). Of the 27 000 Afghanis seeking asylum protection for the first time in the EU during the second quarter of 2015, half (13 600) applied in Hungary, while nearly 90% of the 17 700 Albanians applied in Germany (15 400). Syrians were the main citizenship of asylum seekers in ten EU Member States.

Asylum seekers in Europe want to arrive in a few numbers of Countries. The highest number of first time asylum applicants in the second quarter of 2015 was registered in Germany (80 900 applicants, or 38% of total applicants in the EU), Hungary (32 700, or 15%), Austria (17 400, or 8%), Italy, France and Sweden (respectively 14 900, 14 700 and 14 300, or 7% each). These six Member States, together, account for more than 80% of all first applicants in the EU-28.

Trends in number of asylum applicants vary from country to country in the second quarter of 2015. Germany (46 400 applicants more) continued to record increasing numbers of applicants, while Hungary (30 200 more) saw its number of asylum seekers jumping notably by more than 13 times compared to the same quarter of 2014.

Austria (13 100 more applicants, or 4 times more) was the country with the third largest absolute increase in the number of asylum seekers in the EU in the second quarter of 2015.

Decisions on asylum applications were made by the national authorities of EU Member States. During the second quarter of 2015 the number of first instance decisions was 117800. Among them, 46 % were positive (i.e. granting a type of protection status).

Germany, France, Italy and Sweden issued the most total first instance decisions in the second quarter of 2015 (46 100, 19 400, 13 800, 10 100 respectively).

Most decisions were issued to Syrians (25 500) and Kosovans (13 600), followed by Eritreans (5 700), Albanians (5 600), Iraqis (5 300), and Serbians (5 000).

Syrians have received by far the highest number of protection statuses in the EU, including protection based on national legislations (24 400 positive first instance decisions, or 96% rate of recognition), followed by Eritreans (4 800, or 84%), Iraqis (4 700, or 87%) and Afghanis (2 500, or 70%).

Of the 13 600 first instance decisions issued to Kosovans only 260 were positive (or 2% rate of recognition), while of the 5 600 and 5 000 issued to Albanians and Serbians only 240 and 55 were positive respectively (or 4% and 1% respectively).

The issue of immigration was also addressed by Caritas, which recently published a dossier in which it is stated that this year, in just one week between 10 and 16 August, 20 thousand migrants have landed in Greece, a quarter of all people landed in the country throughout 2014. In the first eight months, 150 thousand migrants have destroyed the meagre reception system present on the Greek islands, the main destination of migrants who arrive in this country.

In general, according to a Caritas statement, numbers are troubling ones provided by IOM (International Organization for Migration) on arrivals across the Mediterranean: in the first eight months of 2015, are 351 thousand migrants who have taken the sea route to try a different life (arrivals in the same period of 2014 were 219 thousand). Data as far as concerned victims are dramatic: 2,643 people have died since January. The IOM estimates that 235,000 migrants arrived in Greece and 115 thousand landed in Italy. More than 2,000 have arrived in Spain and a hundred in Malta. August was the second month of the year with the most deaths, 638, exceeded only by April when there were 1,265. The nationalities most common among migrants crossing the Mediterranean are Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. Eritreans dominate among the arrivals in Italy and Syrians among those on the Greek islands. By the end of 2014 were 3,500 migrants dead or missing in the Mediterranean, according to data of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

More than half of all people who have crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 landed in Greece, a country with one-sixth of the Italian population. Nearly half of all asylum applications lodged in the European Union in the same period were made in Germany.

In Italy, in 2015, arrive a little more than 100 thousand migrants, one for every 600 inhabitants. In the same period, in Greece, there are 205 thousand arrived: that is one every 53 inhabitants. Greece is, therefore, Country which has borne the greatest weight of landings and with a large lead over Italy, which remains the second country. This year, in just one week between 10 and 16 August, 20 thousand migrants have landed in Greece, a quarter of all people landed in the country throughout 2014. In the first eight months, 150 thousand migrants have destroyed the skinny reception system present on the Greek islands, the main destination of migrants who arrive in this country.

Manage the landings and the reception is only a part of the problem of immigration. Most of the migrants do not want to stop in Greece or Italy, and continues his journey often with the complicity of local authorities.

In the dossier of Caritas is also a focus on Syrian exodus.  The United Nations Office on Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) has declared that, on 17 million, 12 million Syrians are in need of aid, 7, 6 million are internally displaced, and 4, 1 million have fled outside the Country. For this mass of desperate the “strategic UN response plan” provides about $ 3 billion of which donor countries, however, have paid only a third. In addition to lacking funds, there is no shortage of means: UN convoys carrying food to populations in areas under siege – from villages to cities like Aleppo – are rare, this increases the emergency and pushes to flee.

Moreover, there is a difficult situation even in neighbouring countries. In Jordan, there are 630 thousand refugees equal to 9 percent of the population, and government has closed the borders for a year because he fears that the fields in Azraq and Zaatari become epicentre of feuds between rival groups Syrians. In Lebanon, where refugees are 1.2 million or 26 percent of the population, it was introduced in January a visa regime that seriously hampers arrivals. This transformed Turkey in the only escape route left by the war. Ankara is home to 1.8 million refugees, of whom 10 per cent in camps in the south, and has already spent $ 6 billion from the international community getting just $ 300 million.

Beirut and Amman are even more in trouble. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, admits: “We promised to Jordan and Lebanon 7 billion Euros, but we gave them less than three.”

The conclusion of Paulo Pinheiro, head of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria is: “It is the collapse of attempts to protect and assist refugees to cause the mass exodus to Europe” (but also to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria).

This dramatic situation is unprecedented, even in the troubled history of the Middle East. Number of refugees in the neighbours countries, should be related to the population of residents; Syrian refugees in Lebanon are a quarter of the population and in Jordan, a largely desert country, they are more than one-tenth of the residents. Syrian refugees decide to escape even in Iraq, which is a land of violence since 2003.

Caritas of these countries were activated immediately with a range of services beyond the emergency, including legal assistance, psychological help, and children solarisation. In Jordan and Lebanon the national Caritas are the largest private facility for assistance to refugees, thanks to a network of volunteers (over 300 in Jordan) and a widespread presence throughout the country, particularly in Lebanon. The statistics are continuously updated, but at least 10-15% of refugees benefit from some help from Caritas in the region. Efforts and an admirable constancy are made possible not only by the institution, such as EU and UN, but also by the support of the worldwide network of Caritas. Finally Caritas give a special attention given to the end of refugees, mostly Christians, but also members of other religious minorities, who -for the first time in the Middle East- are victims of real religious persecution, and would be left to themselves as in Jordan. In Iraq, in the northern region of Kurdistan, these are more than 100,000 refugees, welcomed the small Christian communities of the region. Lastly, inside Syria itself, the national Caritas is present in six regions: in 2014 at least 60,000 people were assisted, especially the most vulnerable, such as children, the seriously ill and elderly.

Cross-border work in the Mediterranean: a new opportunity called Daedalus

  • 28 September 2015

Last April the launch of the portal Daedalus, which offers the opportunity for young entrepreneurs, IT companies and online businesses, associations for use at regional and local level to become part of a cross-border platform where matching labour market demand and supply and meeting a valuable pool of young people and professionals across the Mediterranean area. Leader of the project, funded by the European Union, is the Greek Uni Systems along with partners: EuroMed Research Business Institute (Emrbi), Cyprus, Juhoud for Community and Rural Development of Palestine, Lebanese Development Network, the Italian Cospe, the Tunisian Cultural Club Ali belhouane, University of Piraeus Research Centre (Greece), University College of Applied Sciences (Palestine), and the city of Siena.

The EU -to finance Daedalus- utilized ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme, a multilateral Cross-Border Cooperation initiative funded by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). The Programme objective is to promote the sustainable and harmonious cooperation process at the Mediterranean Basin level by dealing with the common challenges and enhancing its endogenous potential. It finances cooperation projects as a contribution to the economic, social, environmental and cultural development of the Mediterranean region. The following 14 countries participate in the Programme: Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Palestine, Portugal, Spain, Syria (participation currently suspended), and Tunisia. The Joint Managing Authority (JMA) is the Autonomous Region of Sardinia (Italy).

DAEDALUS means “euro-meDiterranean cAreer & Employment aDvisor portAl for the mobiLity of yoUng residentS”.

DAEDALUS is a technologically enhanced tool conceived for meeting the needs of young residents seeking employment in the labour markets of the Mediterranean Sea Basin by enhancing their career and business opportunities and matching their qualifications and skills with existing needs in neighbouring countries.

Target Groups:

  • Universities & Career Centres

Universities and career centres to focus on the mobility and exchange of young people across the Mediterranean basin, providing the opportunity to Europeans to meet and integrate with the Arabic and South Mediterranean culture and also to qualified students, women and young professionals from MPC to broaden their vision of employment and career in a neighbouring EUMC.

  • Young People

Young people and especially women, (under-) graduate and post-graduate students shall merit career advising services to search for employment job vacancies and business opportunities across the Mediterranean Basin; to broaden their scope of career and employment opportunities and enter effectively the EU Mediterranean market monetizing their education and competences. Qualified young people that shall potentially enhance the competitiveness of the Mediterranean area need to overcome numerous barriers while seeking career employment an cooperation opportunities, matching successfully their skills with market demand and exchanging experiences information and valuable knowledge about neighbouring regions of the Mediterranean basin.

  • ICT companies, online businesses and entrepreneurs

ICT companies, online business and entrepreneurs, regional and local employment associations and unions, SMEs, and individual employers to seek partnerships and qualified personnel in neighbouring countries of the Mediterranean basin, thus preparing the field for new investments and successful development activities

  • NGOs, local and public administrations

NGOs, local and public administrations to further enhance their efforts towards participating in sustainable and collaborative solutions, identifying synergies and cooperating at a cross-border level using efficient services and ICT tools to exchange their know-how.

  • Municipalities and Regional Communities, Ministries and stakeholders

Municipalities and Regional Communities, Ministries and stakeholders involved in employment will be able to identify lessons learned, best practices and exploit the benefits of ICT in their daily activities for searching career, employment and cross-border collaboration opportunities.


European Commission adopts a transnational cooperation programme for the Balkan-Mediterranean area

  • 27 September 2015

The first EU Transnational Cooperation Programme for the “Balkan-Mediterranean”, covering the Balkan Peninsula and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, was adopted on 25th September. Bringing together three EU countries (Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus) and two candidate countries (Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), it will focus on two priorities: boosting the competitiveness of the regional economy through entrepreneurship and innovation, and protecting the environment.

Over €28 million from the European Regional Development Fund and more than €5 million from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance will be allocated to the programme. With national co-financing included, the total budget of the programme amounts to almost €40 million.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by reducing imbalances between its regions. The ERDF will invest more than 199 billion euro in the regions of Europe throughout 2014-2020.

The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) gives financial and technical help to support reforms in the accession countries. The IPA funds build up the capacities of those countries, resulting in progressive, positive developments in the region. For the period 2014-2020, IPA has a budget of some €11.7 billion.

Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy said: “This programme has been created out of a strong will of the participating countries to pool resources together and tackle joint challenges. By cooperating to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, the region can increase its attractiveness for investors and business. I wish the countries every success in setting up this cooperation, and supporting projects that will capitalise on the regional strengths and assets.”

The projects funded under the programme will foster entrepreneurial, social and digital innovation, establish linkages between business and education, and enable the exchange of knowledge between the regions. Investments under the second priority will ensure a sustainable use of resources and preservation of natural and cultural heritage across the whole Balkan-Mediterranean region.

The Hellenic Republic Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism has been appointed as the Managing Authority for the Balkan-Mediterranean Programme. Activities of project partners will be co-financed by up to 85%.



The crisis in the Middle East and North Africa: number of tourists decreased all over the region

  • 26 September 2015

The situation of the tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) is considerably complicated.

The problems that plague the entire area are numerous:

The war in Syria has been going on for over four years and has so far caused 300 thousand deaths and eleven million displaced. Tens of thousands of Syrians have left their country to reach Europe because of the fighting between the army, ISIS and dozens of other armed groups.

The expansion of ISIS in large areas of the Iraqi and Syrian territory occurred since the summer of 2014. The ISIS militiamen have made terrible and bloody actions: they made several massacres, especially against some ethnic minorities – for example the Yazidi; they destroyed important finds and archaeological sites and they enslaved thousands of women.

A little more than a year ago a coalition led by the United States began bombing the positions of IS (Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria, but nowadays the results are not decisive. ISIS, effectively, had to abandon some areas, (such as the Kurdish town of Ayn al-Arab near the border with Turkey) but overall has not weakened, writes the Washington Post. In recent months some groups affiliated ISIS or terrorists inspired by the ideology of the group have carried out attacks in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Australia.

The coalition anti-Is involve both Arab and both Western countries and is supported by the Arab League, the EU and NATO. Specifically, the Countries involved are: the United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates. Recently, also Turkey and Russia entered into the front of opposition to the Islamic State. In these last months these States started air strikes on Syrian territory.

Iran is also intervened in support of the Syrian and Iraqi governments, but regardless of the Arab-Western coalition.

Not all countries, however, operate both in Iraq and in Syria. On a strategic level there are some differences between the two fronts. The raids in Iraq seem to be more successful because they are based also on intelligence in Baghdad and they are also coordinated with the ground operations of the army and the local peshmerga (Kurdish security forces).

In Syria, however, the air strikes aimed at the destruction of facilities neuralgic controlled by the Islamic State as command centres, refineries, supply points and so on.

In Yemen, there is a complex situation, similar to a civil war but with the intervention of foreign armies deployed on different parts for old regional rivalries. Up to now the war has forced about 1.5 million Yemenis to flee their homes and caused a serious humanitarian crisis.

In Turkey, last July, the PKK -the Kurdistan Workers’ Party- decided to resume hostilities against the Turkish government. In response, Turkish government has started bombing the PKK in northern Iraq and arresting hundreds of people held in some way linked to the party of the Kurds. The presence of Kurds in Syria and Iraq in the future could cause a wider conflict.

In Lebanon and Iraq many ordinary citizens have expressed frustration with the widespread corruption of their politicians. Protesters, in particular, complain of the lack of responsibility of the ruling classes.

In some areas of Egypt, as in the Sinai Peninsula, security has decreased: “The country is facing a serious crisis of security, especially in the Sinai Peninsula, where elements of the Islamic State have gained ground.”

Finally, there is the chronic conflict between Israel and Palestine. Years after the first attempt of create a solution called “two-state for two peoples”, it seems to be utterly collapsed. The Israeli government has shown very uncompromising on the issue of the transfer of sovereignty to the Palestinians. As a consequence the policy towards the settlements in the West Bank remained almost unchanged even if the settlements are considered illegal by the international community; their numbers have continued to grow. At the same time, the Palestinians are struggling to find the necessary unity to pursue a path of peace.

On the one hand the Palestinian state-led, Mahmoud Abbas, has not proven capable of effective government action and lost a lot of success. Across the Gaza Strip is in fact ruled by Hamas militants, groups hostile to peace negotiations with Israel.

On the one hand the Palestinian State, led by Mahmoud Abbas, until now, isn’t capable of an effective government action and lost a lot of consensus. On the other hand the Gaza Strip is in fact ruled by Hamas militants, groups hostile to peace negotiations with Israel.

These problems are a prerequisite to the decline of the tourism industry throughout the region.

Specifically, according to the statements of the Minister of the Tunisian tourism Salma Rekik Elloumi, this Country has seen the entry of four million tourists so far this year up to September 10, down from five million in the same period of ‘Last year. Especially the number of European tourists has a decrease, with an estimated at -50% compared to last year. This result, according to the minister, is the obvious consequence of the terrorist attacks of the Museum of Bardo and Sousse, that caused the increased of cancellations of bookings. As a countertrend instead tourists from Algeria is increased, with a 17% of grow and a million visitors.

“From these data it is clear that Tunisia needs a mix of sector reforms, such as training staff and improving the quality of service in order to overcome the crisis”, said the minister, announcing shortly a program for the training of workers in the industry that They are involuntarily unemployed in eight regions of the country.

To boost tourism in Tunisia government has an agreed strategy to coordinate efforts between the parties in order to revitalize the sector and reassure tour operators and partners of Tunisia on the measures taken by the government to ensure the safety of visitors.

In Jordan, the number of tourists who visited Petra fell by 33% in the first months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, resulting in the closure of hotels and shops. These figures were announced by the Department of Tourism of the government. It is a dramatic confirmation of the crisis of tourism in Jordan caused by the conflicts in the region, particularly in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. According to the Department of Tourism there is a contraction of 10% in turnover in the first three months of the year, with visitors coming from the EU fell by 21.3% to 57,000, and those in Asia by 27% to 92,000.

There is no doubt that security is the number one priority to boost tourism in the region. The general estimates for the tourism sector in the Maghreb stood on a decline of seven percentage points in just the summer months just passed.

There are, however, positive exceptions, such as Egypt, thanks to beach tourism, particularly from Italy, in August can maintain almost the same level as last year. However, in July – after the attack on the Italian consulate in Cairo – has declined by 20% over the same month of the previous year ”.

The director of the Egyptian Tourism in Italy, Emad Abdalla said that the Red Sea continues to be the preferred destination of Italian and to live a life of him than the other tourist areas of the country. ” Italy remains an important market for Egypt ”, reiterates. ” In 2010 it was the fourth market, with one million and 100 thousand visitors ”. In 2014 the Italian tourists were ” 400,000 of a total of nine million visitors (of which three million from Russia) ”. Data for 2015 remain more or less stable, with a first half that records a stream of arrivals slightly higher than the same period last year (+ 0.8%), with about 216,000 Italians.

The general negative situation affected also a country that has built instability: Morocco. This country has experienced, according to initial estimates by the Moroccan Observatory of the Tourism, a decline of 5 percent, compared with an increase of 10.5 in 2014. The arrivals of only Italian tourists in the pink city have dropped by 22 percent.

The strategy to give new vigour to destinations such as Morocco would be to invest in security protocols, highlights the most reassuring, such as political stability, the desire for modernity of the country, the many economic reports also underway with the West.


15 September: International Day of Democracy

  • 14 September 2015

The International Day of Democracy was declared by the General Assembly in November 2007 with the aim of offering the opportunity to all Member States, organizations of the UN system and other regional, intergovernmental and non-governmental think about the state of democracy in the world. On 15 September 1997, the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted the universal declaration on democracy, a document that reaffirms the commitment of the community ‘international promotion and adoption of democratic values.

Democracy is one of the fundamental values ​​that underpin the United Nations. It is the basis of free expression of individuals and is closely related to a legal system based on the protection of fundamental human rights and respect for human dignity.

But democracy is not an easy goal to reach, but a process that continues even after the establishment of a democratic system and that requires cooperation at all levels. Basically, democracy can only work with the participation of all stakeholders.

Democratic deficits and weak institutions are the main obstacles to the full implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For a long time, the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights stressed the importance of the protection of human rights as a basis on which to base national policies common to the Member States, in order to promote an internal human dignity as a tool essential for democracy and development.

The major UN summits that were held in the nineties to date, up to the definition of the objectives of the Millennium Campaign, have emphasized the preservation of democracy as an objective essential for the development of peoples. Democracy, development, human rights, and freedom are fundamental principles and they are interdependent. Although all democratic States share fundamental values, there is no single model of democracy.

Speaking of democracy, according to the UN, it means so much to refer to an end as a means of achieving development goals. Democracy to be realized fully requires a great involvement and full participation of the international community, as well as all public and private actors, businesses, society ‘civil and individuals.

The United Nations activities in support of democracy have been implemented through the following entities: the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Democracy Fund for the United Nations (UNDEF), Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), which act inseparable and consistent with the activities carried out by all of the UN system in the promotion of the principles concerning human rights, development, peace and security.

UNDP, the United Nations Program for Development, allocates the most ‘large portion of funds – about $ 1.5 billion each year – to promote democratic governance in developing countries. Some examples of UNDP activities are represented by the support offered in the holding of the first free elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo after 40 years and support in drafting a new constitution for Nepal.

The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “Civil society is the oxygen of democracy. Civil society acts as a catalyst for social progress and economic growth. It plays a critical role in keeping Government accountable, and helps represent the diverse interests of the population, including its most vulnerable groups.”

The Theme of the International Day of Democracy 2015 is: Space for Civil Society.

Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.
While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy.

Activities carried out by the United Nations in support of efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate democracy are undertaken in accordance with the UN Charter, and only at the specific request of the Member States concerned.

The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and also decided that 15 September of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy.

Globally, the role of civil society has never been more important than this year, as the world prepares to implement a new development agenda, agreed to by all the world’s Governments. However, for civil society activists and organizations in a range of countries covering every continent, space is shrinking — or even closing — as some Governments have adopted restrictions that limit the ability of NGOs to work or to receive funding.

That is why the theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy is “Space for Civil Society.” It is a reminder to Governments everywhere that the hallmark of successful and stable democracies is the presence of a strong and freely operating civil society — in which Government and civil society work together for common goals for a better future, and at the same time, civil society helps keep Government accountable.