Panama-Overview

Although not fully enabling, civic space in Panama has long been hospitable enough for civil society to prosper. Since democracy was restored in 1989, Panamanian civil society has progressively grown in size, diversity, and influence. In fact, much of the significant advancement of human rights norms and their translation into public policy - on environmental, indigenous, gender and youth issues, among others - over the past two decades has been linked to civil society participation and advocacy. Of late, Panamanian civil society has become more introspective, and focused on a number of issues it needs to address in order to allow the sector to continue thriving. Civil society is promoting the establishment a unified, consistent and enabling framework that adequately reflects the principle of associational freedom. It is also calling for the elimination of government administrative, political and financial arbitrariness in its dealings with civil society. Civil society is also seeking to strengthen its watchdog role and increase its effectiveness by finding alternative funding sources, fostering greater citizen involvement, and working in networks and alliances in a way that helps overcome its current fragmentation.