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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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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, 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 experience challenges to freedom of association, including limited access to funding, dicult registration processes, and burdensome operational and reporting requirements for civil society organizations. 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. Of all civic space commitments made by OGP members, nearly one-third relate to freedom of association.

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  • 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.


  1. Legal Frameworks for Civic Space: A Practical Toolkit

    This toolkit from UNDP and ICNL is intended to support policy dialogue and reform aimed at promoting a more open…

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  2. Civic Space Fact Sheet

    A look at global progress and member-level examples of civic space work in OGP

    2021, Document, PDF

  3. DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance

    The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Recommendation aims to help development co-operation and humanitarian assistance providers to better address civic space…

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  4. 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

  5. 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.

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Can Business and Civil Society Save Our Democracies?

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  10. Civil Society Under Assault

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  11. CIVICUS State of Civil Society Reports

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  12. Transparency and Accountability Initiative's Civic Space Compendium

    , Outbound Link, Web Page


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.

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

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