Spaces for Change | S4C is excited to announce a new grant award by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in support of its West Africa Security Advocacy Project (WASAP). This grant will enable S4C to expand its operational presence across West Africa and scale up advocacy to improve the operating environment for civil society in the sub-region. Building on the success of its interventions in Nigeria, S4C will take multifaceted action to defend the civic space by intensifying advocacy for the proper application of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) Recommendation 8 across West Africa and in the process, secure compliant rating for countries in West Africa.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is a private, grant-making foundation based in Flint, Michigan, supporting civil society organizations working to strengthen the space for civic engagement across the world.  Mott Foundation’s support will not only add a new dimension to the work of S4C, but will also uniquely position the organization to extend an array of research, policy reform, capacity development, and technical assistance programs to governments, civil society, and law enforcement institutions to the most underserved countries in the region.

In the last decade, well-intentioned international security initiatives implemented across the world, and in West Africa in particular, are producing unintended consequences at the national level. The propensity of state agents to misapply national security laws—often borrowed from international legal regimes—in ways that overreach statutory authority is a continuing concern across the region, constraining the ability of civic actors and civil society organizations to operate freely and securely. Of specific significance is the low or non-involvement of West African civil society organizations in the development and implementation of national, regional, and international security norms and measures, which further creates huge gaps between policy and practice.

This project is timely. It is coming at a time when Nigeria is reforming its security laws, adjusting provisions that limit civil society, and bringing them in alignment with the country’s human rights obligations.  Spaces for Change has led advocacy pushing back against the misapplication and overregulation of civil society in Nigeria. This additional support from the Mott Foundation will enable S4C to take good work to scale by rolling out regional interventions that will strengthen the capacity and opportunities for national organizations across West Africa to engage, influence, and advocate for greater human rights protections in regional and sub-regional security initiatives.

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