TNI’s attempts to reframe the discourse on ‘Shrinking Space’ continued to see discernible shifts in how the issue of criminalization of dissent and solidarity is understood, particularly on the part of international NGOs. Especially gratifying in 2018 was the enthusiasm for the reframing on the part of women’s organisations in the Middle East and North African region (MENA), who experienced little ‘space’ in the first place. They volunteered to translate and subsequently disseminated TNI’s framing paper in Arabic. TNI further consolidated network outreach to the MENA region through presentation of a new TNI co-published report on the EU’s border externalization programme at a counter-summit on migration held in Marrakech. MENA and West African participants expressed that they were unaware of such research being done in Europe and were keen to cooperate further. A second co-published report on Europe’s Border Walls received widespread global media coverage, including in the New York Times, hooked to President Trump’s Mexican wall project.
TNI developed close relations with two UN Special Rapporteurs in 2018. The one was the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, who contributed to a report on the globalization of ‘countering violent extremism’ (CVE) policies. She spoke at a TNI-organized event at the UN in New York, which attracted UN officials, the Dutch and Irish missions, and civil society organisations. Civil society participants praised the event as the first time they had been able to engage pro-CVE officials about their concerns for civil liberties. The criteria used in the report to measure legitimate and effective policies were subsequently included in a tool box prepared for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The report has also been included in the curriculum of Duke University’s Law School.
The other involved the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, who said he found a TNI report particularly useful for his own purposes. Criminalisation of migrant solidarity was particularly acute in Italy at the time of publication. The report was translated into Italian and launched at an event in Palermo, attracting significant media attention. A similar report was published on attempts to criminalise the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement against Israel over the human rights situation in Palestine.