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Global Report: Freedom of Association

Freedom of Association Design

Freedom of association is one of the rights-based pillars – along with freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, right to participate in the conduct of public affairs, freedom of movement, and access to information– that underpin civic space. Countries that guarantee freedom of association and other indicators of open civic space do better–politically, economically, and socially.

Where freedom of association is restricted, open data and freedom of information are much less likely to translate into accountability. Restrictions to association include hindering entry or registration, organizational operation, access to funding and resources, advocacy work (e.g., through over-implementation of lobby laws, transparency laws, or electoral laws), and reporting and accountability. Such measures are counter to the principles, mission, and pledges of OGP members.

In its assessment of OGP member activities and freedom of association challenges, the report found the following:

  • OGP countries have mixed results on freedom of association. While over half are doing well, international indicators show that 40 percent have noteworthy challenges according to a 2018 analysis of CIVICUS monitor by OGP.
  • Freedom of association challenges are largely based in law. Roughly one in four OGP countries have excessively restrictive laws and limitations on receiving foreign funding or mobilizing domestic funding.
  • Action plans are underused. Most OGP countries with documented challenges to freedom of association have not undertaken or completed ambitious commitments in their action plans.
  • Strong reforms can support not-for-profit work. Findings show challenges with cumbersome registrations, securing tax advantages, navigating red tape to justify funding and activities, and accessing sustainable funding sources.
  • In pursuing other aims such as financial transparency, anti-corruption, and other policies, OGP members need to ensure that reforms also “do no harm” to the legitimate participation of civil society in the policy process and in civic life.

Download the Freedom of Association module below or explore the full Global Report here.


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