Saturday, October 15, 2011
The purpose of this Article is to examine nonprofit organizations from such an international perspective, and to cross-pollinate the fields of third-sector research and international law. A law review article can provide only a broad introduction to this genre, but is an important step in the integration of these fields. My hope is that this Article will provide a glimpse for these groups into each others‘ worlds such that (1) scholars and students of international law might recognize the important role of the third sector, and (2) scholars and students of nonprofit studies might recognize the contribution of a comparative legal approach.
This Article is novel in its breadth, and intentionally so. Most comparative law articles choose depth over breadth, focusing on the details of how one or two countries‘ approaches to a legal issue are distinguishable from the American system.18 Although this technique is useful, it is only through the cumulative impact of many different approaches that true idiosyncrasies become obvious. This Article therefore provides a window into not one, but nine alternative international approaches to nonprofit law. It is against this relief that American distinctiveness glares.
This Article begins with an introduction to the colorful variety of approaches to nonprofit regulation that the international community affords, analyzing the nonprofit sector in several countries in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden) and in Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka). The Article next explains the basics of American nonprofit law, first discussing state regulation, and then federal regulation. The American approach is then contrasted with the systems of nonprofit regulation in other countries, and two distinctive themes of American law emerge. First, American nonprofit law has a different primary relational focus: it regulates the relationship between the nonprofit and its donors and leaders, rather than the relationship between the nonprofit and the government. Second, American nonprofit law is unusually tax-centric in its regulatory scheme: the Treasury is a questionable locus of regulation for nonprofits, and most other countries use tax only as a supplemental, rather than central, regulatory force. The Article concludes with a call for greater attention to international and interdisciplinary approaches to the third sector.