About Under the Mask

Never before have the fates of individual communities and nations been so intertwined as they are today. And never before has our safety and well-being depended so much on the safety and well-being of others. Since the world was alerted to the first case of COVID-19 in late December 2019, governments around the world have attempted to contain the spread of the virus to differing degrees of effectivness. The pandemic is severe, and governments do need to act swiftly to contain it.
 
At the same time, history shows that governments often use crises to introduce measures that are unacceptable in normal times. Measures that ordinarily wouldn’t pass without protest and outrage can be enacted without public scrutiny and without a clear timeline or end date. As a result, measures can be pushed through that far outlast the wars, natural disasters, pandemics, or other crises initially cited as the reason for their passage. We are seeing this today in the context of COVID-19.
 
We are witnessing a global shift toward authoritarianism. The restrictions on civic space we have seen increasing over the past decade are being accelerated by COVID-19. It is vitally important for civil society to identify, monitor, and resist the misuse and normalization of extreme measures that further restrict civic space, or further alienate marginalized peoples. 

AFSC’s Under the Mask project is a contribution to this effort. We have developed an array of activities, webinars, networking opportunities, and online resources designed to inform, connect, and protect those standing up for the rights of communities around the world. The Under the Mask site will serve as a hub for restriction mapping; online virtual dialogues and trainings; and research, media, and tools for civil society to use.
 
We hope you will help us field test tools and to share your own ideas, solutions, and strategies, as well.