Election NGO May be Shut Down Warns Justice Minister
Russia’s Justice Ministry will ask a court to close down the Golos Association, an independent election monitoring NGO, if it fails to register as a “foreign agent,” Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said on May 15. See story at http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130515/181164053/Election-NGO-May-be-Shut-Down-Warns-Justice-Minister.html
New Law on Associations Applied to Target HR Activists
The conviction of an activist in Algeria after he distributed leaflets about unemployment in the country is a worrying sign that a new law regulating associations is being used to restrict civil society groups’ activities, Amnesty International said.
Men protest against the arrest and incarceration
of Abdelkader Kherba, a young unemployed
human rights activist in Algeria.
© FAROUK BATICHE/AFP/GettyImages
On 6 May, Abdelkader Kherba, a member of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) and the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed (CNDDC) was sentenced to a two-month suspended prison term and a fine of 20,000 Algerian dinars (about USD 250) for distributing leaflets on unemployment in Algeria in June 2011. He had been previously harassed by the authorities because of his work on behalf of unemployed people or in support of trade-unionists. “The latest court case against Abdelkader Kherba is yet another example of how the authorities in Algeria are misusing the law and the judicial system to intimidate those who advocate for social and economic rights,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Country Draws Criticism Of Draft Law By UNHCHR
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay criticized the latest version of the NGO draft law on May 8.
In press statements, Pillay said that the draft law “largely ignores input from local and international human rights organizations”. She said she fears “draconian restrictions” could be imposed on civil society organizations if this draft law is enacted “If a law is passed that severely constrains the activities of civil society organizations, it will mark a further blow to the hopes and aspirations of the 2011 ‘Egyptian Revolution,’” she said. Pillay pointed out that contributions by civil society organizations will be important to the country’s future. Pillay voiced her concern regarding a possible deterioration of the status of local civil society organizations compared to their situation under the former regime. “Despite the authoritarian nature of the previous Egyptian Government, local civil society organizations were still feisty and effective operators,” she said. The story is available at
Human Rights Council Chief Proposes Getting Rid Of NGO Law
Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of the Kremlin human rights council, has proposed scrapping the law on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Kommersant daily reported on Monday. In his letter to Veniamin Yakovlev, the chairman of the Council for Codification and Enhancement of Civil Legislation, Fedotov asks him “to consider the advisability of scrapping the NGO law in the light of modernizing the Civil Code.”
“The non-commercial sector should be regulated by the Civil Code, which contains everything required to streamline the work of public and human rights organizations,” the paper quoted Fedotov as saying. The human rights council has been considering several variants of amending the NGO law for about a week. Fedotov said on April 17 that about five different variants are being discussed. For more see
Donors for Sichuan Earthquake Relief Choosing Non-Govermnet Charities
The Global Times and New York Times reported that donors are shunning the government-linked charities such as the Red Cross and preferring to donate funds through charity platforms online for relief in the Ya’an Earthquake. As of now at least one online charity has reported receiving $13 million while the Red Cross has only received $10 million. Deng Guosheng, director of the NGO Research Center at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that many donors are turning to non-governmental channels after the scandal-plagued Red Cross Society of China took a big hit to its credibility. “The Red Cross has to be transparent on how the money is used and boost its efficiency in order to pick up its credibility,” he said.?The Ministry of Civil Affairs has appeared to acquiesce in this practice and is simply urging the non-government charities to be open and transparent. This is a far cry from what it said in 2008 when, in response to the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, when it told people to send donations to the Sichuan Charity Federation and Red Cross, both linked to government. For more see
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/776522.shtml#.UXb8gHBs4yF and http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/world/asia/after-earthquake-chinese-seek-out-private-charities-for-their-donations.html?ref=world&_r=0.
New Public Benefit Organizations Act 2013 Analyzed
A lot has been written about the newly enacted Public Benefit Organizations (PBO) Act, 2013, which will repeal the NGOs Co-ordination Act of 1990. It is fair to say that some of what has been written has caused apprehension in the NGO sector. It is, therefore, important that clarity be brought to the discussion on this law. Specifically, the law seeks to improve the regulatory environment for NGOs in Kenya, increase regulator efficiency and transparency, improve sector capacity and accountability and develop dialogue between civil society and the government. The PBO Act is the product of extensive consultations involving stakeholders from relevant government agencies and NGOs involved in public benefit work. The process also benefited from consultations and borrowed good practice from various renowned PBO regulators such the Charity Commission of England and Wales and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/New-NGO-Act-balances-enablement-and-regulation/-/440808/1741134/-/45hirsz/-/index.html. The text of the Act can be found at
Professor Simon introduced her new book
Major Government Reform Plan Adopted By National People's Congress Affects CSOs
The oversight of CSOs in China is to be streamlined in accordance with a major government restructuring package adopted by the NPC at its March 2013 annual meeting. As it pertains to the Ministry of Civil Affairs – the State Council will adopt plans that two different types of CSOs are to be freed from restraints on registration (and hence from significant burdens of oversight that have been part of agency bureaucracy). These are local trade associations and chambers of commerce. Indeed, as China Daily reports, such organizations are to be encouraged to compete, and are thus subject to market forces. Under the State Council plan, other CSOs that will be permitted to directly register with MCA are those in the fields of science and technology, charity, public welfare and community service. According to China Daily, “Establishing a social organization concerning politics, law issues, and religions is subject to the government’s examination and approval before registry, [and] so are those overseas NGOs applying to open representative offices in China.” For the China Daily report see
Website for Karla Simon's forthcoming book set up at OUP
Available on the Oxford University Press website at http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Law/?view=usa&ci=9780199765898 .
To receive a flyer for a copy at an early bird price, contact her assistant, Donna Snyder, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Final Draft of NGO Law Sent to Judiciary
The Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry has finished their daft of amendments to the Civil Institutions Act and sent it for review to the judiciary, said Minister Nagwa Khalil on January 31. Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky and a member of the Council of Ministers Supreme Legislation Committee would review the draft and put it on the legislative agenda, Khalil said. The amendments have been the subject of an open dialogue for over six months, and the proposals and comments of civil society organizations in the country were taken into consideration in the draft, he added. The minister asserted that the proposed amendments fix the current laws problems, and include procedures to ensure the effectiveness of civil society organizations. The amendments stipulate increasing the minimum number of founding members of such an association from 10 to 20, and increasing the minimum capital allocated to establishing the organization from LE10,000 to LE250,000, to ensure the “seriousness” of the organization, Khalil said. Any money given to the association from a third party, such as donations or foreign funds, would be designated as “public funds” in order to ensure that they are spent correctly. In addition, civil society organizations could only be dissolved by a court ruling, in accordance with Article 51 of the Constitution. Edited translation from MENA.
2012 Foundation Transparency Report Published
A report was issued by the China Charity and Donation Center (CCDC) in early January dealing with transparency among China’s large foundations. The 2012 annual report on the transparency of these organizations is drawn from data in surveys and interviews carried out among 500 charity foundations in China. The Charity Information Center has composed a transparency index to rate the organizations. According to the report, this year’s overall rating on the transparency index is 45.1, which is an improvement compared to the 33 points in the ratings last year. Only 182 organizations published financial accounts in their annual reports. Among 240 organizations publicizing their donation information, only seven reported project budgets and seven revealed financial accounts. For more see
Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Launched
The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission was launched on December 3, and the Website is now live at
Civil society can help China modernise
David Yang and Karla Simon published an Op ED in the South China Morning Post on December 1, 2012. The link is here: http://m.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1094676/civil-society-can-help-china-modernise. The full text is here
Premier-in-Waiting Asks for Tax Breaks for HIV/AIDS NGOs
Premier-in-Waiting Li Keqiang has asked the Ministry of Finance to arrange a pilot program that would give tax breaks to NGOs specializing in HIV/AIDS prevention, as part of the government’s attempt to reach out to grass-roots groups to help fight the disease. “The promotion of institutional reform in society requires the participation of [all] forces of society,” Li said at an inter-ministerial meeting on AIDS prevention toward the end of November, adding that reform in supporting NGOs’ work on AIDS prevention could provide lessons for broader social reform. Stressing that the role of non-governmental organizations in AIDS prevention “is an irreplaceable and unique force,” Li was reported by CCTV as telling the NGO representatives in a separate meeting that they “will be given greater space to play [their] role.” For more see
The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) is now a reality, after the ACNC Bills were passed by the House of Representatives on November 1. Amendments made by the Senate were accepted in full. A start date for the ACNC has yet to be announced, but is likely to be some time in December 2012. More information and analysis will be available in the December 2012 IJCSL-N.
On October 31, the Minister for Civil Society laid the necessary draft secondary legislation before Parliament to underpin the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). Subject to Parliamentary approval of the statutory instruments, the first applications to set up CIOs could be made by the end of this year. To help the Charity Commission manage anticipated demand, implementation will have to be phased. A Written Ministerial Statement made by the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP, sets out the proposed implementation timetable. Analysis will be available in the December 2012 IJCSL-N.
New Security Law Blow To Human Rights
In an apparent move to stifle dissent at home, Russia lawmakers voted to expand that country’s definition of treason to include “those seeking to damage Russia’s security.” The additional wording, passed by a vote of 375-2 in the Russian Duma, adds a domestic element to a law that described treason as aiding foreign threats, BBC reported. Pundits expect President Vladimir Putin to sign the bill into law immediately, but critics deride it as another blow to human rights in Russia. “The adoption of this law is a continuation of the present feverishly prohibitive legislative trend,” former Presidential Human Rights Council head Ella Pamfilova said at BBC.co.uk. The new law gives police wide-ranging power to make arrests against anyone speaking out against the Kremlin, according to Radio Free Europe.
Forbes Publishes Philanthropy Survey
The Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, supported by Credit Suisse, brought together 150 of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful philanthropists to tackle some of the planet’s most persistent challenges. “The importance of philanthropy is evidenced by the fact that so many prominent individuals took the time to travel to New York and share their ideas,” says Bill Woodson, Managing Director, Co-head of Private Banking Americas UHNW Business at Credit Suisse. Following up on the lessons of the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Credit Suisse and Forbes Insights conducted a global survey of 264 people with investable assets of $1 million or more to further understand giving patterns and challenges. The PDF of the study is available at http://images.forbes.com/forbesinsights/StudyPDFs/creditsuisse_nextgen_report.pdf.
Two Pussy Riot Convictions Upheld, One Overturned
The members of Russian punk collective Pussy Riot finally got their day in court on October 10, when a Moscow City judge upheld the two-year jail sentences for two of the them and issued a suspended sentence for a third. The split decision meant that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, would remain behind bars, while Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 is slated for release. According to an Associated Press report, the punk rockers said they were not attempting to insult when they performed a "punk prayer" on February 21 in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. During the protest they stormed the soleas (or sanctuary), crossed themselves and asked the Virgin Mary to rid the country of president Vladimir Putin. Three of the collective's five members were arrested at the time and spent more than five months in detention as they awaited trial. The trio were found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in prison in August.
Proposed Treasury and IRS Rules Would Reduce Barriers to Global Grantmaking
On September 24, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service proposed long-awaited regulatory changes that would significantly modify regulations on equivalency determination in cross-border grantmaking. This is the result of years of work on the part of the Council on Foundations, TechSoup Global, and key allies—including many Council members—to create a more conducive environment for cross-border grantmaking by U.S. private foundations and public charities.
To set the context, this is arguably the most important thing to happen on the global grantmaking regulatory front in two decades. Unlike much philanthropic advocacy work, which seeks to defend a current position, this change pushes the boundaries on global grantmaking outward. According to Council board member Chet Tchozewski, founder of Global Greengrants Fund, “This ambitious, creative development in global philanthropy will save millions of dollars annually that can now be used for global public benefit.” Although additional work remains to be done, these regulatory changes are a very strong step in resolving this long-term effort. In the near future, the Council and TechSoup Global hope to be able to launch NGOsource, an equivalency determination service that will help U.S. grantmakers streamline their international giving. For the proposed regulations see https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/09/24/2012-23553/reliance-standards-for-making-good-faith-determinations
England & Wales
New Charity Commission Chair Appointed
The Charity Commission welcomes confirmation from the Cabinet Office of its new Chair, William Shawcross, CVO. His appointment was recommended by the Public Administration
Select Committee (PASC) following a pre-appointment hearing. The Commission says that it looks forward to welcoming William Shawcross who will join on 1 October 2012. For more
New NGO Law Proceeds to Lower House of Parliament
The drafting of a new registration law specifically for non-governmental organizations was approved by Burma's Lower House of Parliament, and existing legislation will also
be reviewed. Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann responded favorably to a proposal "urging the government to draft an NGO registration law commensurate with the age as the president
called for cooperation with civil societies in the democratic transition." The matter was first brought up last week by Thein Nyunt, an MP for the New National Democracy Party. Shwe
Mann instructed the Lower House Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, Bill Committee, interested MPs and the respective ministry, "to revise the orders and regulations
and to draft new legislation as necessary." He said they should "submit the report as soon as possible assuming it as a special case" as the procedures for NGO registration should be
handled smoothly. Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Brig-Gen Kyaw Zan Myint objected to drafting a new NGO law during the debate. "There is no need to draft new legislation as the
current registration law is still sophisticated and their regulations have nothing to amend." Instead he recommended putting the matter on record. But Shwe Mann suggested that he
thought it would be necessary. For more see The Irrawaddy at http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/11784.
Human Rights Tribunal Closed to Individuals
The Open Society Foundations have reported that leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) took a momentous decision in Maputo
in late August—to shut the doors of the SADC Tribunal, preventing the region's citizens from seeking justice for human rights abuses. The shocking decision,
which was taken at the annual summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in Maputo, not only left the tribunal in limbo but also rendered it completely
toothless by denying individual access to the court. "The decision to deny the region's inhabitants any access to the tribunal is astounding and entirely
without any lawful basis," said Nicole Fritz, Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). "Civil society groups were worried that SADC leaders would
conspire to weaken the tribunal but this is far worse than we had feared. SADC has destroyed it." The summit's final communiqué explains that SADC leaders have "resolved
that a new Protocol on the Tribunal should be negotiated and its mandate confined to interpretation of the SADC Treaty and Protocols relating to disputes between
Member States." The original tribunal protocol made it clear that individuals also had access to the court. In fact, all previous cases heard by the tribunal had
been brought by individuals. For more see
Environmental CSOs Challenging Regulations on Public Interest Litigation
Two environmental CSOs in Chongqing are petitioning the NPC to amend the relevant regulations regarding public interest litigation. For more see http://www.chinadevelopmentbrief.org.cn/newsview.php?id=5611 (Chinese).
New Regulations on Procedural Aspects of CSO Registration Released; Go Into Effect on October 1
The Ministry of Civil Affairs has released new regulations on procedures for applying for registration and for administrative penalties in cases of registration irregularities.
The new regulations deal with court proceedings that apply when such irregularities occur and the ways in which appeals are handled. They clearly spell out certain rights that CSOs
are entitled to, e.g. the right to a hearing before the enforcement of any decision to impose penalties. For the full text,
see http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=393394 (Chinese).
Pussy Riot Members Sentenced to Two Years in Jail
Three women from Russian punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail on Friday for their protest against President Vladimir Putin in a church,
an outcome supporters described as the Kremlin leader’s "personal revenge." The band's supporters burst into chants of "Shame" outside the Moscow courthouse and said
the case showed Putin's refusal to tolerate dissent. The U.S. embassy in Moscow said the sentence appeared disproportionate to what the defendants did. The women have
support abroad, where their case has been taken up by a long list of celebrities including Madonna, Paul McCartney, and Sting, but opinion polls show few Russians sympathize
with them. For more see
Julian Assange Given Asylum
In a strange turn of events, Ecuador said on August 16 that it had decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
Mr. Assange has been holed up for two months in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where the police scuffled with and arrested some of his supporters on
August 15, according to the New York Times. See
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/americas/ecuador-to-let-assange-stay-in-its-embassy.html?_r=1&emc=na. This is strange
because Human Rights Watch reports that Ecuador's laws restrict freedom of expression, and government officials, including President Rafael Correa, use these laws against critics. Those involved in protests marred by violence may be prosecuted on inflated and inappropriate 'terrorism' charges. See
Legal Assistance CSO Denied Permission to Receive Foreign Funding
Jordan’s government is violating the right to freedom of association by denying, without explanation, a civil society organization permission to accept foreign funding,
according to Human Rights Watch. The cabinet’s June 27, 2012 decision against Tamkeen, a Jordanian legal assistance group, is the first denial of foreign funding that has
come to Human Rights Watch's attention since the cabinet-level review provision became law in 2009. Tamkeen has carried out groundbreaking work in Jordan over the past
four years, providing free legal advice to migrant workers, in particular Asian domestic workers and Egyptian agricultural workers. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/01/jordan-government-clamps-down-civil-society.
First Activist Fined Under New Law
A Moscow court has ordered a political opposition leader to pay a $380 fine for organizing an unsanctioned demonstration. It is one of the first punishments to be levied under a
tough law adopted in June to clamp down on street protests. The activist, Eduard Limonov, who organized a protest without a permit in July to support the freedom of assembly, had faced the possibility of an even larger fine under the new guidelines. Mr. Limonov said he already owed nearly $17,000 from previous verdicts. "I earn less and less every day," he said. "So I will not pay the $380 just like I did not pay the $16,880."
Charity and Security Network Releases Report on Humanitarian Intervention
The Charities and Security Project has released an extensive report on how U.S. law impedes humanitarian intervention by U.S. charities.
It is available at http://www.charityandsecurity.org/system/files/Safeguarding%20Humanitarianism%20Final.pdf.
It also states that U.S. law and policy do not respect the status of neutral and impartial humanitarian relief organizations. ICCSL has joined the effort to introduce legislation to legalize humanitarian assistance in accordance with international treaties.
- The material support statute and economic sanctions programs effectively block access to civilians in need of humanitarian relief by barring logistical negotiations with listed groups when necessary to access civilians and treating incidental, minimal leakage of aid in the same manner as deliberate distribution of aid to terrorist groups;
- U.S. law imposes a permanent ban on any form of engagement with a listed group (with a very narrow exemption for medicine and religious materials) when international humanitarian law allows only temporary restrictions on access to civilians; and
- The Treasury Department’ licensing process is an ineffective means of allowing access to civilians.
Crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang as Ramadan Progresses
The Chinese government has ordered restrictions on Ramadan observances in the northern province of Xinjiang,
home to the majority of China's Muslim Uighur minority, leading Uighur leaders to warn of the potential for new violence
in the restive region, according to Alexandra Evans on the Foreign Policy blog. Al Jazeera reports that party officials
and students under the age of 18 have been banned from fasting during the Holy Month while government websites have urged
local Communist Party leaders to impose further restrictions on religious activity. Citing the need to "maint[ain] social
stability during the Ramadan period" the Zonglang township in the Kashgar district issued a statement reminding
citizens that "It is forbidden for Communist Party cadres, civil officials (including those who have retired) and students
to participate in Ramadan religious activities." Others local governments have urged party leaders to enforce the ban by
bringing "gifts" of food to local leaders. Though mosques remain open for prayers, new restrictions have limited services.
Foreigners have been banned from entering mosques and Muslims wishing to attend services must first display a national
identity card as confirmation of their local residence. Public congregation after the services is prohibited and students
are encouraged to avoid public prayer. Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress attributed the crackdown to
recent ethnic violence in the cities of Kashgar and Hotan but warned the restrictions will incite "the Uighur people to
resist [Chinese rule] even further." For more see
Arrest of Activist Aimed at Reducing Opposition Activities
Accelerating the Kremlin’s campaign against the country's fledgling opposition, Russian investigators charged the blogger and anticorruption
activist Aleksei Navalny on Tuesday with embezzlement, a crime that carries a sentence of up to 10 years. A previous case against him based on the same
events was closed this spring in Kirov by prosecutors who said they had not found evidence of wrongdoing. If the case progresses to an arrest or a sentence,
it will signal a shift in strategy by President Vladimir V. Putin. For the 12 years he has served as Russia’s paramount leader, he has mainly refrained from criminal
prosecutions of activist leaders, instead sidelining them with softer methods like short-term detentions and limited access to mass media. But some commentators say
they expect to see more criminal cases brought against activists.
The blogger and activist Aleksei Navalny before entering the headquarters of the Investigative Committee in Moscow on August 1, 2012
"A political decision has been made, though I don’t know for how long," said Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin political consultant.
"Maybe the people who made this decision think it is a short period of intimidation, which will be followed by a return to more velvet methods. But now there is a regime in which, given a range of choices, they are
selecting the harshest." "The system is informing us that it is changing the rules," he said.
Draft Transparency Regulations for Foundations Issued
New draft regulations on the management of the nation’s charitable foundations were issued on July 30, 2012 in an effort to enhance transparency and oversight in a sector whose
credibility has suffered considerably following a recent series of scandals involving embezzled funds. The Ministry of Civil Affairs published the new rules, requiring that charities
regularly publish details of donations and expenditures, on its website. For more see http://www.chinanpo.gov.cn/2351/55627/index.html
(Chinese) and http://www.scmp.com/portal/site/SCMP/menuitem.2af62ecb329d3d7733492d9253a0a0a0/?vgnextoid=415f90cb963d8310VgnVCM100000360a0a0aRCRD&ss=China&s=News (English).
Although the regulations tend to re-state previous requirements, they consolidate the rules in one place.
Putin Signs Law and Some NGOs Vow to Ignore It
Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 21, 2012 signed into law a new measure that requires non-governmental groups receiving funding from abroad and engaging in political activity to register as foreign agents. Some NGOs have vowed to ignore or circumvent the law, while its critics note that the vague definition of political activity could be applied against a wide range of initiatives. Putin, meanwhile, has alleged that recent protests against him were instigated and funded by the United States.
The law also requires NGOs identified as foreign agents to submit detailed annual financial reports, which critics say would be a time-consuming and costly burden on organizations with small staffs and meager funding. The law comes as authorities show increasing unease with a newly emboldened political opposition, which conducted the unprecedented wave of massive public protests in the winter and spring. Lev Ponomarev, head of For Human Rights, one of Russia's oldest NGOs, told the Interfax news agency that his group will ignore the regulation and challenge it in court. “We will never be agents and won’t submit to this law. We’re agents of the Russian citizens,” said Ponomarev, adding that his group will continue to accept foreign funding. For more, including a discussion of the draconian penalties imposed by the law, see http://www.wral.com/news/national_world/world/story/11340679/.
Concerns Raised Over Draft Telecom Offenses Proclamation
Ethiopia’s draft Telecom Fraud Offenses Proclamation conflicts with internationally guaranteed human rights standards. The draft proclamation, which is currently under
consideration, purports to unencumber the telecommunication industry, a state run telecommunications monopoly, as part of implementing peace, democratization and development programs.
The stated intention of the draft proclamation is to control “telecom fraud” described as a "serious threat to national security beyond economic losses." Nevertheless, the draft
proclamation seeks to bring contemporary means of electronic communication within the state’s ambit to limit severely freedom of expression. Ambiguous language contained in the draft,
along with links to anti-terrorism legislation, would provide government officials with a convenient tool to clampdown on anyone critical of the dominant political discourse.
Blogs, tweets and even Facebook status updates could result in jail time and heavy fines for posting information that may be deemed offensive to national security.
The prohibition on telephone calls and fax services through the internet open the door to full prosecution for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services, essentially making use
of globally popular applications such as Skype and Google Talk illegal. For more see
First National Charity Fair Held in Shenzen
China's first ever charity fair was held in Shenzhen on July 13 and 14. It was hosted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the local Shenzhen government.
Attended by over 400 people, the opening ceremony featured a major speech by Minister Li Liguo, which stresses the importance of charity for China’s development.
Another story about the event can be found at http://www.chinanpo.gov.cn/1938/55060/index.html.
New Law Passes Parliament; It Goes to Putin for Signature
President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign into law a bill adopted by Russia’s parliament, which labels many foreign-funded, non-governmental organizations operating within the country as "foreign agents." The Kremlin has stated that it believes such a bill is appropriate for protecting
Russia from external attempts to influence internal politics. The new law has also been given some financial teeth. Human rights activists are already enraged by the legislation, as the Duma
also voted to impose fines of up to 5m rubles ($153,000) and a potential two year prison sentence for any organizations or individuals found to be in violation of the new law. Lyudmila
Alekseeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, believes that their new 'foreign agent' status will force the organization to fold as a result of having to refuse foreign grant money.
Alekseeva explains, "The non-wealthy are not used to donating money to non-profit organizations, while the rich fear they may lose their business [by doing so]." In response to his
government's critics, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has assured those affected that state funding will be increased for any NGOs whose activity "as a whole is deemed useful and positive
for our country." For more see http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31901.
Human Rights Council Backs Internet Freedom Resolution
The United Nations Human Rights Council has for the first time backed people's right to freedom of expression on the Internet in the wake of the massive role that social media networks played
in the Arab Spring. In a landmark resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Council's 47 members states agreed on Thursday that this right should be protected by all states and access to the
Internet should also be guaranteed. Both China and Cuba have tried to limit access to the Internet and voiced some reservations but joined the consensus recognizing "the global and open nature
of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development." "This outcome is momentous for the Human Rights Council," said U.S. ambassador Eileen Donahoe, whose country
co-sponsored the Swedish-led motion with countries including Brazil and Tunisia. For more see
Protest Movements as Political Strategy
By Ben West | July 5, 2012
Recent protests throughout Sudan are the latest in an ongoing trend of protest movements around the world, from Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt to oil workers in Norway and opposition parties in Thailand.
Protests have proven an effective strategy against autocratic regimes, political repression and austerity measures. Like with insurgency strategy, protests rely on underlying support from the population rather than
on superior weapons. Both insurgency and protests are forms of asymmetric opposition in which the insurgents or protesters cannot succeed by using force to overwhelm the state, but must find (or create) and exploit
specific weaknesses of the state. But protest movements are not as aggressive as insurgencies. Violence is integral to insurgent strategy, but protest movements may be simply a negotiation tactic to extract concessions
from a state or a corporation. Strikes are one of the most common forms of protest used to leverage labor resources for higher wages or more benefits. Thousands of protests, such as strikes, occur around the world every
week. Most are small and insignificant outside the protesters' community. In order to address the geopolitical importance of protest movements, this analysis will focus on protests intended to create political change.
Read More >>
Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai Presented Inaugural Report
On June 20, 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Maina Kiai ,
presented his inaugural report to the UN
Human Rights Council. View the UN Special Rapporteur's
report to the UN Human Rights Council. You can also view ICNL's Defending Civil Society report
and its accompanying Toolkit.
National Human Rights Action Plan Addresses Roles of Social Organizations
Published on June 11, 2012 by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet, the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015) addressed social organizations as follows:
6. Right to participate point 5
Encouraging orderly participation by social organizations in social construction. The Law on Philanthropy will be formulated, and the Regulations on the Registration of Social Organizations, the Interim Regulations on the Registration of Private Non-enterprise Entities and the Regulations on the Management of Foundations will be amended. The government will standardize activities of voluntary services and expedite the development of voluntary services.
NGO Planks in Presidential Platforms
Egypt's presidential run-off, in which around 50 million people were expected to vote on 16-17 June, is spotlighting challenges such as poverty alleviation, the role of NGOs,
and environmental issues. Two presidential candidates are standing - the Islamist Mohamed Mursi, and Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq. A recent government-led crackdown
on several pro-democracy groups led to fears among civil society activists that the 2011 uprising would not bring them the freedoms they dreamed of. Months after this crackdown,
rights activists are still afraid the next regime will not be supportive enough of their work. "I do not expect the next president to tolerate rights organizations," said Shady Amin,
executive director of local NGO Centre for the Right to Democracy and Human Rights. "I think it will take the next president a long time to reduce poverty in a noticeable manner and
this might go beyond their presidential term." Mursi considers civil society to be one of three pillars on which his presidential program is based. The Islamist candidate calls NGOs
an "important development partner." He promises to propose laws to parliament that give civil society organizations more freedoms to organize and interact with citizens. Shafiq, too,
promises to offer support for civil society so it can play an effective role in Egypt's "sustainable development." He promises to amend civil society law 84/2002, which is seen as restrictive
by civil society activists, to help NGOs become more "effective," "independent," and "transparent."
For more see http://allafrica.com/stories/201206151219.html.
Charity Law Submitted to State Council
The Ministry of Civil Affairs has submitted a draft of the Charity Law to China’s State Council (cabinet), a sign the country may be progressing towards rules covering philanthropic organizations. If passed, the new law would finally address tax deductions for donations, a system for supervising charity work and how donations can be used. This is intended to bring order to an area plagued by scandal in recent years. On June 4, Dou Yupei, the deputy minister for civil affairs, announced the draft law had been submitted to the State Council. In addition, guidelines for how charities disclose information about their donations would take effect this year, Dou said. For more information, see Caixin English’s article, available at http://english.caixin.com/2012-06-08/100398687.html?utm_source=mail.caixinonline.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=caixinonline_news_mail&utm_campaign=caixinonline.
Xi Jinping met with the Co-Chairman of the Gates Foundation, USA
BEIJING, May 29 (Xinhua Reporter Qian Tong) Vice President Xi Jinping, met with the United States Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chairman Bill Gates.
Xi said the two sides in accordance with the two heads of state reached consensus to actively promote mutual respect, partnership building mutually beneficial
and win-win cooperation, bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas to flourish. This will not only benefit the two peoples but also be conducive to world peace and
development. Xi Jinping expressed appreciation for the Gates Foundation’s long-term concern and support human health and career development, work towards the elimination
of global poverty and disease control, and actively carring out mutually beneficial cooperation in areas such as health, agriculture, science and technology with the relevant
departments of the Chinese government. Xi Jinping hopes that with Chinese partners, the Gates Foundation will have a really good grasp of the implementation of cooperation projects,
continue to explore innovative and effective mode of cooperation, and improve cooperation mechanisms to achieve complementary advantages; taking full advantage of the channels for a
variety of resources, to strengthen scientific and technological innovation and results applications, in order to play an active role to enhance the level of health in China and other
Bill Gates said … the foundation is actively engaged in global health and development projects and attaches great importance to cooperation with China. It will continue to promote
projects and make its own contribution to disease control and health development in China.
The Minister of Health Chen Zhu and other officials were present at the meeting.
Conference on Modes of Activism and Engagement in the Chinese Public Sphere
Catholic University law school Professor Karla Simon was among the featured speakers at "Conference on Modes of Activism and Engagement in the Chinese Public Sphere," organized
by the Asia Research Institute and held at National University of Singapore on April 26 and 27. Simon's paper, titled "CSOs Pursuing a Reform Agenda in China," examined ways in which
civil society organizations engage with the Chinese party-state to accomplish rights-based reform agendas.Photos from the conference were posted in early May to this link.
ICNL Work on Civil Society Recognized at Hearing
The work of our organization, ICNL, has recently been recognized by
Congress, and we are very humbled by and grateful for the recognition.
VOA Reports Lack of Election Monitors Due to Dispute About US NGOs
Egyptians go to the polls this week to choose their first democratically elected president. A continuing legal dispute over the role of U.S. civil society groups means there will be fewer monitors
to observe that vote. Egypt's historic presidential campaign comes to a close with the first round of voting to choose a new civilian leader. The Elections Commission says there will be
monitors from the Arab League, the African Union, and the European Commission. But there will be far fewer Americans observing this vote because of the pending prosecution of members of
three U.S. non-governmental organizations charged with improperly using funds and failing to register with authorities. "Because of the whole NGO scandal and sort of the attack on foreign
funding, this is going to be at a much smaller scale than it was for the parliamentary elections and than it should be," said Michele Dunne, with Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
at the Washington-based Atlantic Council. "There will be some monitoring going on. It'll be small scale. And at the same time, the elections themselves will be much larger scale."
For more see http://www.voanews.com/content/ngo-dispute-means-fewer-monitors-for-egypt-vote/897064.html.
Concerns Expressed about Draft Public Order Management Law
The Uganda parliament should significantly revise the draft Public Order Management bill, which would drastically restrict freedom of assembly
and expression, according to the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and Human Rights Watch. Despite pressure from the executive to pass the bill
in its current form, key recommendations from parliament's Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee should be used to guide revisions before the bill is presented
for a vote, Human Rights Watch and FHRI said. Recent acrimony between opposition leadership and the government has apparently renewed the government's sense of urgency to move
the bill forward, as government authorities have thwarted attempts by the opposition to hold protests and arrested some opposition leadership on a variety of charges.
"If the draft law is passed as is, it will seriously undermine Ugandans’ right to demonstrate and express themselves freely," said Livingstone Sewanyana, head of the
Kampala-based Foundation for Human Rights Initiative. "The government should not respond to criticism by imposing overly restrictive laws. Instead the bill should be
amended to protect the right to assemble and express one's self freely." For more see
Front page story on NPOs and philanthropy in China in China Daily for May 12
available at http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-05/11/content_15269496.htm.
Government Releases New Regulations on Associations and on Social and Chritable Funds
The Vietnamese government released new regulations on social and charitable funds in early May. These replace rules from 2007.
New regulations on associations were also issued; these amend and supplement the framework regulations for associations issued in 2010.
The new rules have been posted to the ICCSL Documentation Center and are available at Vietnam Associations Rules (May 2012)
http://www.iccsl.org/pubs/Vietnam_associations_rules_May_2012.pdf; and Vietnam Charitable Funds Rules (May 2012)
UNDP/EU GED Project Evaluation Meeting
ICCSL staff attended a briefing for the UNDP/EU GED project by Tsinghua University professor He Jianyu at UNDP headquarters in Beijing on April 23. They also met with former ICNL colleague Mark Segal, a member of the EU evaluation team for the project, presenting ICCSL with a wonderful chance to work together with Mark again. Additional photos can be found in our photo gallery.
||ICCSL staff meeting in New York
ICCSL staff meeting in New York with visiting delegation of Ministry of Civil Affairs staff led by Vice Director of NPO Management Bureau Liu Zhenguo.
Additional photos can be found in our photo gallery.
New "Normative Rules" on Foundations
New "Normative Rules" on Foundations Issued by Ministry of Civil Affairs (for public comment) MCA issued new normative rules on April 25, which are meant to supplement
existing donation disclosure rules issued in December 2011. They deal with issues of transparency and accountability and envision new reporting procedures for public
fund-raising foundations. More information will be provided once they are finalized. The current draft is available at
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed deep concern about current or recent moves in a number of countries to curtail the freedom of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society actors to operate independently and effectively. She specifically mentioned legislation in Egypt,
Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Venezuela, Israel, and Algeria as being problematic. She said,"Civil society - including NGOs, trade unions, human rights defenders,
academics, journalists, bloggers and others - plays an absolutely crucial role in ensuring that human rights are protected in individual states. A dynamic and autonomous
civil society, able to operate freely, is one of the fundamental checks and balances necessary for building a healthy society, and one of the key bridges between governments
and their people. It is therefore crucial that NGOs are able to function properly in countries in transition, as well as in established democracies."
For more see the press release, available at
U.S. Eases Sanctions to Allow Nonprofits to Work in Myanmar
The United States has eased financial sanctions on Myanmar to enable U.S.-based groups to do charitable work in the impoverished country, the
Press reports. The first in a series of concessions offered to Myanmar in response to the country holding by-elections this month that were swept by the party
established by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the move is intended to support development and humanitarian assistance work in the Southeast Asian country.
For most of the past fifty years, Mynamar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by a military junta that kept it largely disconnected from the global economy, leaving the
resource-rich nation among the world's poorest. This week, the U.S. Treasury Department eased restrictions on financial transactions in support of private groups working in
areas such as democracy-building, health, education, sports, and religion. While the U.S. has kept tough trade sanctions on the country in place, the Burmese government is
planning to send a full ambassador to Washington for the first time in two decades and will ease restrictions on American investment and other financial services. Although
the military is still the dominant political force in the country and rights abuses are still reported in ethnic minority regions, Treasury has indicated that sanctions on the
country could be eased even further if the Burmese government consolidates the reforms it has introduced.
For more see "U.S. Eases Sanctions for Myanmar Nonprofit Work."
Associated Press 4/17/12.
|ICCSL staff meet with large gathering of folks interested in civil society in Beijing
Elaine Pratley and David Shallcross were instrumental in organizing this gathering of civil society folks from embassies, the UN, foundations, and national and international CSOs in honor of a trip by Lee and Karla to Beijing. Hopefully this will catalyze other folks to join in the interesting discussions on the Civil Society listserv managed by Law School Computer Services at the Catholic University of America. Additional photos can be found in our photo gallery.
New Draft Law on NGOs Draws Intense Criticism
A number of human rights organizations have declared their utter rejection of a new draft law on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), prepared by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs and that aims to nationalize civil society. Under this law civil society would be considered an institution of the government, and NGO staff would be regarded as civil servants. Furthermore, the new law would impose several new arbitrary restrictions aiming to terrorize civil society activists. The draft law actually epitomizes the same philosophy of tightening the firm grip on civil society organizations in general and stifling human rights organizations in particular. The new draft law goes even further in its restrictions than all of the previous laws that have repressed civil society since the proclamation of Law No. 32 of 1964. The human rights organizations have warned Parliament against the adoption of this anti-civil society draft law, which is designed to undermine the already limited margin allowed for NGO activities and imposes exorbitant fees for establishing NGOs, thereby stifling the interest of citizens in establishing or participating in the work of such groups. These undersigned organizations reaffirm their support for the draft law they presented before the Parliament's Human Rights Committee in January 2012. For more see http://eipr.org/en/pressrelease/2012/04/12/1404.
CIVICUS Releases State of Civil Society 2011 Report
Civil society faces a generational opportunity to prove its value as a source of alternatives at a time of profound global crisis.
This is the headline conclusion of the inaugural report on the state of civil society from global civil society network CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.
It is available at available at StateOfCivilSociety.org.
Two Democracy Promotion NGOs Shut Down
Two nongovernmental organizations that worked primarily on promoting democracy abroad were shuttered by the government of the United Arab Emirates at the end of April.
According to the report by CNN, the Dubai office of U.S.-based National Democratic Institute was shut down on March 27, followed by the closure of the Abu Dhabi office of
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, an organization based in Germany, the next day. For more see
http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/31/world/meast/uae-organizations/ and the
discussion of these developments in the May issue of IJCSL-N.
Extension of Unrelated Commercial Activities Provisions of Budget Announced
After extensive consultation with the not-for-profit (NFP) sector, the Australian Government has announced that it will extend the start date for the 2011-12 Budget measure
to better target NFP tax concessions from 1 July 2011 to 1 July 2012. Further information about this measure and the Government’s NFP reform agenda can be found on the
Carters Reports on Charity Changes in 2012 Budget
On March 29, 2012, the Federal Government introduced the 2012 Federal Budget ("Budget 2012"). The Budget can be viewed
online at: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2012/plan/toc-tdm-eng.html.
While the 2011 Federal Budget had introduced extensive changes affecting registered charities, Canadian amateur athletic associations and other qualified donees,
Budget 2012 focuses largely on measures dealing with the perceived lack of transparency and accountability concerning charities devoting their resources to political activates.
However, Budget 2012 did not include any hoped for donation tax incentives, such as the charitable donation stretch credit that had been proposed by Imagine Canada.
Some of the more important proposals affecting registered charities in Budget 2012 are in the Carters Charity Law Bulletin, available at http://www.carters.ca/pub/bulletin/charity/2012/chylb280.htm.
Karla Simon's talk at U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law March 6, 2012
More photos can be found in our
Karla Simon presented a talk at NYU Law School on March 6 titled "2011 - The Remarkable Year for Civil Society."
It is based on Chapter 7 of her book Reinvigorating Civil Society in China - A Socio-Legal Analysis (forthcoming 2012 Oxford University Press).
The PowerPoint presentation is available at http://www.iccsl.org/pubs/NYU_Talk_March_6.pptx
Political Party Law Reformed in Major Ways
Responding to the outcry over disputed parliamentary elections in December and the huge street protests in Moscow that followed, Russian lawmakers on Friday unanimously approved legislation to make it easier to form and maintain new political parties. The New York Times reports that a political party will be permitted to be formed with as few as 500 members (down from 40,000). It was passed on March 23 by the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament. It is expected to sail through the upper house, the Federation Council, and to be signed by Mr. Medvedev within a few days after final passage. Supporters of the legislation said it represented a major liberalization at a time when President-elect Vladimir V. Putin and the governing United Russia Party have been criticized as holding a tight grip on the political system and tilting it to their advantage. For more see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/world/europe/russia-eases-law-on-political-parties.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120324.
Recommendations from Standing Committee on Finance Reported
The Direct Taxes Code Bill, 2010, introduced in Lok Sabha on 30 August 2010 was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance on 9 September 2010 for examination and report thereon. This Committee presented its Report on 9 March 2012.
For more information please contact Noshir H. Dadrawala, CEO, Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy.
- The Committee has suggested that NPOs be allowed the option to adopt either the cash system or accrual system of accounting for computing their income as per the existing Act.
- Under the DTC, NPOs have been allowed to carry forward 15% of total income or10% of gross receipts, whichever is higher to be spent within 3 years from the end of the relevant financial year. The Committee however has observed that if NPOs are compelled to spend all their income, then this may adversely affect their sustainability in the future. They may be forced to survive precariously from year to year, without any long range activities or planning. The Committee has therefore recommended that the existing provisions may be restored so that NPOs become sustainable entities in the long run.
- As regards other items proposed in respect of NPOs like carry forward and set off of losses, capital gains on transfer of financial asset and permitting of taxes other than income tax as permissible outgoings, the Committee has recommended restoring the status quo ante with a view to simplifying tax procedures for the NPOs. The Committee has desired that genuine charitable activities should be promoted and sustained and tax policies and procedures should not act as a hindrance in this process.
- The Committee has suggested restoring the existing provision in section 11(1A) of the present Act enabling NPOs to reinvest in a prescribed manner sale proceeds of their capital assets held under trust wholly for charitable or religious purposes.
- Inclusion in regard to organizations engaged in an activity intended to promote "international welfare in which India is interested and is approved by Central Government", may be incorporated in the definition of NPO.
Draft NGO Law Withdrawn by Government
The government has withdrawn a controversial draft law on civil society organizations, said Mohamed Esmat al-Sadat, chairman of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee. The draft, which would amend the existing law, was said to be a combination of proposals from a number of NGOs. "No law would be issued if NGOs themselves do not approve it," Sadat told Al-Masry Al-Youm, adding that the former regime drafted the original law. Critics say that the current Law on Associations (Law 84 of 2002) does not guarantee freedom of association since it gives the government the right to refuse the registration of an NGO and to dissolve its board. "The authorities use strict legislation on registration, regulation and foreign funding to restrict the activities of civil society. Under Mubarak, the law was often used against human rights organizations to punish the reporting of human rights violations," said Amnesty International in a report published last year. For more information see http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/656141.
Developments Regarding Charity and Civil Society at the "Two Sessions" of the Ruling Bodies
- Most importantly, Premier Wen Jiabao mentioned charity and civil society in his work report his "State of the Union-style" address for 2012 read out to the National People's Congress (NPC) on March 5, 2012. His remarks include mention of the need "to accelerate the development of social welfare and charitable / philanthropic pursuits / efforts." In addition he vowed that the government would "push for innovations in administering rule of law and social management, and put in order (or rationalize) the relationship between government and civic and social organizations."
- In addition, an interview with Yang Lan about philanthropy was featured prominently on Main Page (an English language CCTV broadcast) during the sessions. Ms. Yang, a former television hostess, current philanthropist and National People’s Consultative Congress (NPCC) member was interviewed during the "2 Sessions" of the NPC, and focused her remarks on philanthropic legal reform. The video is available at http://english.cntv.cn/program/newshour/20120304/112026.shtml
Americans Freed to Leave Country
Americans who had been stuck in Egypt left the country on March 1, after Egyptian officials lifted a travel ban imposed as part of a politically charged criminal case against four
nonprofit groups here, a senior official with the Obama administration and witnesses at the airport said. A lawyer involved in the case said one of the seven Americans who was cleared
to leave chose to stay behind, but there was no immediate confirmation of that from Washington. The Americans were allowed to go after they agreed to return for their trial and after
nearly $5 million in bail was posted. The United States provided a chartered plane, but a diplomat traveling with the Americans suggested some of the people leaving may have gone on
other aircraft. The news followed several hours of confusion. The March 1 New York Times article is available at
Developments in the Trial of NGO Workers Indicate Progress Toward Resolution
Civil society workers for U.S. and other nonprofit groups that are accused of illegally receiving foreign funds entered pleas of not guilty Sunday, the first day of a trial that
threatens to unravel three decades of close Egyptian-American relations. None of the 16 American defendants showed up to court. Of the 43 defendants, only 14 Egyptian NGO workers were
present inside the cage as prosecutors read charges that accused them of circumventing Egyptian law to receive more than $20 million in funding from Washington to set up offices and
promote a U.S.-friendly agenda. The foreign and Egyptian nonprofit workers, including the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, are accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad,
carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work and failing to obtain the necessary operating licenses. The defendants include Germans, Palestinians, Norwegians
and Serbs. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/26/3453373/americans-are-no-shows-at-opening.html#storylink=cpy.
The New York Times reported on February 29 that the negotiations to have the charges against the Americans dropped were ongoing. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/world/middleeast/united-states-and-egypt-in-talks-to-end-prosecution-of-americans.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha22.
The trial has been deferred for 2 months, and in addition, it appears that the judges have resigned from the trial. http://www.christianpost.com/news/egyptian-judges-resign-from-ngo-trials-70550. In another report, Egyptian officials said the travel ban was lifted by the country’s top prosecutor at the recommendation of the case's investigating judge. It was not
immediately clear whether the charges against the Americans would be dropped.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. See http://www.timesofisrael.com/egypt-agrees-to-free-u-s-ngo-workers/.
ICCSL staff visited Beijing and Shenzhen
ICCSL staff on a visit to Shenzhen local bureau of civil affairs and local CSOs in connection with a new project for UNDP. More photos can be found in our photo gallery.
|ICCSL staff visited Beijing and Shenzhen in connection with a new project for UNDP. They talked with national MoCA staff in Beijing and traveled with national MoCA and UNDP staff to Shenzhen. While there they met with Shenzhen officials as well as two local CSOs, one involved with migrant workers and the other with autism.
ICNL Receives MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions
On February 16, 2012, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named the International Center for
Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) as a recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.
The award recognizes ICNL's work to create an enabling environment for civil society worldwide and provides
ICNL with a grant of $1,000,000. ICNL's founders, Dr. Leon Irish and Professor Karla Simon share in the pride
that this award brings to the organization they created in 1992. View a video about ICNL's work (2 min, 49 sec) at
New Rules For Charitable Activities Of Religious Organization Released by SARA
The State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) has released regulations on charitable activities for religious organizations.
They are available on SARA's website (www.sara.gov.cn) and will soon be available on the website in both Chinese and English. Among other
provisions, the regulations state that religious organizations may not use their charitable work to proselytize. Religion, while once suppressed in
China, is being used to promote social harmony at the present time.
POMED Releases Backgrounder on Crackdown on NGOs
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) has released a long and very informative backgrounder on the current NGO crackdown. One of the interesting bits of information is that the charges are apparently being brought under the penal code and not the 2002 Law on Associations.
Restrictive Law on Associations and Foundations Proposed by Government; Less Restrictive Draft Submitted to Parliament by Civil Society
The raids on Egyptian and foreign CSOs in December 2011 (and reported on in the February Newsletter) were followed on January 17, 2012 by
an announcement from the
Egyptian Ministry of Social Justice and Solidarity that it had completed a draft Law on Associations and Foundations to amend Egypt’s existing Law 84 of 2002.
The proposed law is nearly identical to a draft prepared in March 2010 by a committee composed of members of the now-disbanded former ruling party and chaired by
ex-Prime Minister Abdelaziz Hegazy. It places extreme burdens on CSOs. The Ministry announced a fifteen-day public comment period, after which the draft Law on
Associations and Foundations is expected to be taken up by Egypt’s newly elected People’s Assembly as one of its first orders of legislative business.
More than 55
Egyptian CSOs have refused to submit comments and are instead calling on the Ministry and the People’s Assembly to replace the draft with one endorsed and authored by
Egyptian human rights organizations. On January 31, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights submitted the draft developed by CSOs to the Parliament. For what the civil
society draft contains, see http://en.eohr.org/2012/01/31/eohr-submits-the-ngos-draft-law-to-the-parliament/.
Human Rights Committee Votes to Overturn Requirement Regarding Removal of Turbans
Sikhs in France have won a major victory in their attempt to overturn French legal requirements that they remove their turbans for the taking of driver's license photos and for
other reasons. In its judgment, reached in July 2011 but only
revealed in January 2012, the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) said: "Even if the obligation to remove the turban for the identity photograph might be described as a one-time
requirement, it would potentially interfere with the author's (Ranjit Singh's) freedom of religion on a continuing basis." The committee also said that France had failed to explain
how the Sikh turban hindered identification since the weare's face would be visible and he would be wearing it at all times in any event. In 2008 the European Court of Human Rights
dismissed an appeal on grounds of security. It said that while another complainant in the UNHRC case, Shingara Singh's, religious rights had been infringed, France was justified to
ban the turban on the driver's license photo because the turban posed a security risk of fraud and falsification. That is when Ranjit Singh decided to file a case to the UNHRC. The
committee has now judged that a turban does not pose a risk to security.
112 Charities to Join Online Disclosure Platform
To restore public trust in charities, 112 Chinese organizations are on track to participate in a government-sponsored information disclosure platform, according to Caixin Online. In
the wake of immense public backlash against China’s charities over millions in misused funds, these organizations have pledged to promote information transparency through a new
government disclosure platform. Through the China Charity & Donation Information Center’s (CCDIC) forthcoming online platform, the 112 charities said they will publish their accounting
records according to a new set of information disclosure guidelines. The announcement at an annual philanthropy conference sponsored by the Ministry of Civil Affairs—which oversees the
CCDIC—comes just three weeks after 24 foundations publicly pledged to ensure the integrity of philanthropy in China. The new standards will also clarify how and when third parties
should audit charities, the charities said, although they did not clarify what the exact requirements will look like. The joint effort includes China Charity Federation, as well as the
China Youth Development Federation and the Red Cross Society of China. For more see http://english.caixin.com/2012-01-09/100347049.html.
Ministries of Civil Affairs and Finance Issue New Audit Guidelines for Foundations Effective January 2012
The new Audit Guidelines, available in Chinese at
for the first time require that financials of foundations be reviewed by certified public accountants. This guidance comes in response to a series of scandals in "public foundations"
(those with close ties to the government such as the Chinese Red Cross Society and the China Charity Federation) that occurred over the course of the summer and fall 2011. An in depth analysis of
the issues and how the government is responding to them can be found in the English language service of China's Xinhua news agency at
(this story only refers to the November announcement that the audit guidelines would be promulgated, not to the policy itself).
Prior to the new requirement, financials had only to adhere to the Chinese Accounting System for NPOs, available at
Cambodia Draft Law on NGOs Being Reconsidered
According to Voice of America, the Cambodian government on December 28, 2011 appeared to bow to pressure and took a step back on the law, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying in a public speech he wanted the Ministry of Interior and local NGOs to continue discussions that would make the law "acceptable" to all. http://www.voanews.com/khmer-english/news/Hun-Sen-Calls-for-More-Talks-on-NGO-Law-136319558.html
Crackdown on Foreign Funded CSOs Continues into January
According to the New York Times, Egypt’s military-led government on January 1, 2012 justified its recent crackdown on human rights and democracy-building organizations as a
defense against foreign interference in its politics, defying international pressure and contradicting reports from senior officials in Washington that Egypt's military rulers
had pledged to soften their stance. Egypt's defense of the raids escalates a diplomatic feud with Washington that began last Thursday with raids by armed police officers on the
offices of 10 nonprofit groups, including 3 supported mainly by the United States government: the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom
House. Egypt's continued support of the raids is also the latest indication that the military rulers who took over after the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak share his
government's dim view of the international norms of democracy and human rights. Facing escalating domestic and international pressure to turn over power, the ruling military council
has appeared increasingly willing to use force without apology to intimidate its critics, including directing assaults on demonstrators that have left more than 80 people dead and
hundreds wounded over the last three months. The raids on the nonprofit groups have sent a tremor of fear through the network of human rights watchdogs that have documented and
strongly criticized abuses by the military. For more on this story and the background to it, see
resource for knowledge and resouces on civil society and citizen
participation in the world."