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Freedom of Association

OGP members allow for the free operation of advocates and reformers to form non-profit, mission-driven organizations.

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Overview

Countries with a strong freedom of association infrastructure do better–politically, economically, and socially. When freedom of association is restricted, the right to information and open data is less likely to translate into accountability.

Around half of OGP countries have strong legal and practical support for freedom of association. For example, El Salvador has addressed barriers to entry, and Canada published information on the regulation of charities and tax rules in a timely manner.

Still, international indicators show that 40 percent of OGP members have noteworthy challenges. Organizations working on sensitive human rights issues are the most affected. OGP members with the largest challenges in freedom of association are the least likely to have relevant commitments to reform.

Freedom of association is a core and cross-cutting issue for OGP, and it is an area where OGP’s unique model can forward progress. To accelerate this work, OGP is  promoting positive reform commitments and pushing back against the use of transparency and accountability discourse to over-regulate civil society.


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Recommendations

  • Simplify legal requirements and reduce restrictive measures that impede the establishment and operation of organizations and associations. Norway and Ukraine committed to ease procedures for establishing associations and simplified reporting requirements for civil society organizations.
  • Establish mechanisms that ensure women and traditionally marginalized groups can freely come together and influence public policy. The city of Austin in the United States created an equity assessment tool to gather feedback and measure expected benefits of city initiatives on marginalized communities.
  • Implement sustainable financing models for civil society organizations and facilitate CSO access to tax benefits, state contracts, and other sources of funding, including measures restricting access to cross-border funding. Ukraine committed to amend its laws on Charitable Activities and Charities and the Budget Code, allowing charitable organizations to receive financial support for performing state policy tasks and providing social services.
  • Introduce mechanisms that promote public transparency on funding of NGOs. NGO accountability is also seen as a key issue linked to freedom of association, as is the funding provided by governments to NGOs. Sierra Leone published funds from development partners, NGOs, INGOs, and CSOs. They will also hold district meetings to disclose detailed activity level budgets. The Global Standard for CSO Accountability is a reference standard that can be adopted and implemented by CSOs to strengthen their accountability practices by encouraging continuous two-way dialogue with stakeholders.

Find more recommendations of actions to protect and enhance civic space here.


Resources

  1. Actions to Protect and Enhance Civic Space

    Enhancing and protecting civic space is vital to achieving OGP’s bold goals of accelerating economic recovery, tackling systemic inequalities, and…

    2021, , Web Page

  2. Global Report - Freedom of Association

    Countries that guarantee freedom of association and other indicators of open civic space do better–politically, economically, and socially.

    2019, Document, PDF

  3. Closing Space, Open Government? Civil Society Response to Restrictions in OGP Countries

    CIVICUS explains what civic space is, why it matters, and what OGP can do to fix it.

    2018, Document, PDF

  4. The Right Tools for the Right Job: How OGP Can Help Win the Fight for Civic Space

    Explore ways the open government community can improve civic space through OGP action plans and beyond.

    2018, Document, PDF

  5. Can Business and Civil Society Save Our Democracies?

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  6. Civil Society Under Assault

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  7. CIVICUS State of Civil Society Reports

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  8. Transparency and Accountability Initiative's Civic Space Compendium

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  9. People Power Under Attack 2020: A Report Based on Data from the CIVICUS Monitor

    CIVICUS shares the status of civic freedoms in 196 countries, highlights regional trends and gives recommendations for enhancing civic space.

    2020, Outbound Link, Web Page


Commitments

  1. Promote civic space in restorative justice efforts

    ID0128, 2020, Civic Space

  2. Citizen Participation in Local Government

    PH0056, 2019, Civic Space

  3. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  4. Human Rights Report

    UY0120, 2018, Civic Space

  5. NGO Database, NGO Fund

    LT0025, 2018, Civic Space

  6. Public Services by NGOs

    LT0027, 2018, Civic Space

  7. Feasibility Study on NGO Satellite Account

    SK0077, 2017, Civic Space

  8. Citizen Access Point

    UY0089, 2016, Civic Space

  9. Foreign Aid Transparency

    SL0013, 2016, Civic Space

  10. Transparency of Loans and Aid from Foreign Countries

    MN0028, 2016, Civic Space

  11. Capacity Strengthening for Cooperation Between the Local Self-Government Units and Civil Organizations

    MK0111, 2016, Civic Space

  12. Favorable Legal Environment for Social Contracts

    MK0117, 2016, Civic Space

  13. Transparency in Aid Management

    SE0015, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  14. Transparency in Social Organizations

    SV0078, 2016, Civic Space

  15. Creation of NGO Database.

    LT0022, 2016, Civic Space

  16. Creation of NGO Fund.

    LT0023, 2016, Civic Space

  17. Social Organizations Act

    SV0090, 2016, Civic Space

  18. Transformation of CSO Registration Procedure

    BG0047, 2016, Civic Space

  19. Development of a Uniform Methodology for Planning, Monitoring and Performance Evaluation of Programmes and Projects Implemented by Civil Society Organisations and Monitoring the Spending of Allocated Funds

    RS0024, 2016, Civic Space

  20. Amend the Regulation on Funds to Support Programmes or Missing Amount of Funds for Programmes of Public Interest Implemented by Associations

    RS0025, 2016, Civic Space

  21. Evaluate Grant Funding Open Data Application

    SK0030, 2015, Civic Space

  22. Sustainable Model of Financing NGOs

    LV0023, 2015, Civic Space

  23. Increased Access to Swedish Aid Information

    SE0010, 2014, Civic Space

  24. Increased Aid Transparency at Global Level

    SE0012, 2014, Civic Space

  25. National Civil Society Fund Model Development

    LT0011, 2014, Civic Space

  26. Financing of Charities

    UA0032, 2014, Civic Space

  27. Not-For-Profit Status for CSOs

    UA0033, 2014, Civic Space

  28. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  29. Foreign Aid and Foreign Investment

    MK0074, 2014, Civic Space

  30. Simplification and Digital Administration of Arrangements for NGOs

    NO0044, 2013, Civic Space

  31. Implementing the Commitments in the Busan Partnership Document

    SE0003, 2012, Civic Space

  32. Amendments to the Law on Community Associations

    UA0002, 2012, Civic Space

  33. NGO Fund

    LV0001, 2012, Civic Space

  34. Trade Union Law

    LV0003, 2012, Civic Space


OGP Global Report Data

The data below is drawn from the 2019 OGP Global Report. You can view and learn more about the report here.

These are members making OGP commitments to improve their performance in the respective policy area. As members that have demonstrated political commitment through OGP, the next step is ensuring that implemented commitments have maximal impact.

Key
Indicates that member has a starred commitment in this policy area.


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