Laws, Rules and Regulations for NPOs

The last decade or so has seen the increasing constraining of civil society space. For an illustrative list of overregulation of non profit organisations see here. This has coincided with the so-called ‘ war on terror’, with national security concerns trumping human rights and civil society. Research conducted by the International Center for Not-for-Profit-Law found that,  ‘Since January 2012, more than 50 countries have introduced or enacted measures constraining civil society.’ Measures governments employ include:

  • restrictions on the formation of organisations
  • restrictions on the ability to advocate for change
  • restrictions on the access to information and communication technology (ICT)
  • legal barriers impeding the ability of civil society organisations (CSOs) to access international assistance, in the form of grants and donations or otherwise.

The following civil society organisations monitor and report on the state of civil society regulation:

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law’s NGO Law Monitor has up-to-date country-specific information on legal issues affecting non profit organisations (NPOs). It presents reports on 48 countries and 8 multilateral organisations.

ICNL also publishes a quarterly review of non-governmental organisation (NGO) legal trends around the world titled Global Trends in NGO Law, synthesizing key developments relating to the legal and regulatory issues that affect NGOs.

The Enabling Environment Index (EEI) examines conditions within which civil society work. It ranks the governance, socio-cultural and socio-economic environments for civil society in 109 countries.
Civicus also published a report in 2013 titled Global Trends on Civil Society Restrictions.
Additionally, it publishes an annual State of Civil Society Report. The 2019 Report is here.

Online Global Database of Freedom of Expression jurispudence, updated weekly. In addition to the analyses of court rulings, the digital platform includes comparative reviews of jurisprudence, blogs and other publications by international freedom of expression experts. The database will reinforce global understanding of freedom of expression jurisprudence and support the development of international norms and institutions protecting the free flow of information. The judicial database is a project of Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University, launched to advance understanding of the norms and institutions that best protect the free flow of information and expression.

The Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity (CGP) has released the Index of Philanthropic Freedom (2015), a global study to measure and compare the incentives and barriers to giving. The new Index provides a detailed analysis of the legal barriers and incentives to philanthropy in both developed and developing countries, including country-specific reports, trends, and policy recommendations. An interactive map graphic can be found here .