May 3, 2008
A CALL FOR REFORM OF NATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORKS GOVERNING CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
DEFENDING CIVIL SOCIETY, a recently released report of The World Movement for Democracy (co-authored by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law and the World Movement for Democracy Secretariat) calls for the removal of legal barriers to the existence and operations of civil society organizations worldwide and the adoption of a set of international principles protecting civil society.
In recent years, the report notes, there has been a change in the form of government opposition to civil society organizations in many countries. Such opposition has shifted from outright repression to more subtle forms of restrictions such as imposing barriers to entry to discourage or prevent the formation of organizations, and barriers to resources to restrict the organizations' ability to secure the resources they need to carry out their activities.
The report outlines the various legal impediments used to constrain civil society and exposes and refutes the rationales with which regimes seek to legitimize them. The set of principles the report promulgates are rooted in international law. They are intended to inform proper government-civil society relations and protect civil society organizations.
Commissioned by an Eminent Persons Group, including former Czech President Vaclav Havel and former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, amongst others, the report draws upon legal and political analysis done by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and consultations with democracy, human rights and civil society activists at several regional forums.
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