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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: El Salvador has addressed barriers to entry. Canada is looking at ease of operations and Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Latvia are expanding access to funding.

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.

Beautiful Riga old town panoramic view from above

Committing Funding to Build Civil Society in Latvia

Lessons from Reformers: As part of the Soviet Union, Latvia did not have a tradition of civil society organizations...

Freedom of Association Design

Global Report: Freedom of Association

Freedom of association is one of the rights-based pillars that underpin civic space. Countries that guarantee freedom of association and other indicators of open civic space do better – politically, economically, and socially.

View from Tara mountain in Serbia, Europe. Drina river in the distance.

Fixing Past Problems with State Funding for CSOs

Lessons from Reformers: Serbia’s first OGP action plan (2014–2016) had an explicitly ambitious commitment on the transparent funding of CSOs...


  • Publish and share information on financial reporting and regulations. Sierra Leone is improving transparency of public funding received by civil society organizations working in post-Ebola recovery efforts. Reporting was public and in an open data format. 
  • Limit or eliminate restrictions that make it challenging to establish a new organization, especially for those working on sensitive issues. El Salvador is using OGP to accelerate the process for creating an organization, which previously took three to eight years.   
  • Ease requirements on registration and access to funding. Canada has committed to providing civil society organizations with information on tax rules, which helps prevent arbitrary and unnecessary audits. Latvia has established a “NGO Fund” to build CSO capacity to engage in policy processes.


  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Can Business and Civil Society Save Our Democracies?

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  5. Civil Society Under Assault

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  6. CIVICUS State of Civil Society Reports

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  7. Transparency and Accountability Initiative's Civic Space Compendium

    , Outbound Link, Web Page


  1. Citizen Participation in Local Government

    PH0056, 2019, Civic Space

  2. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  3. Human Rights Report

    UY0120, 2018, Civic Space

  4. NGO Database, NGO Fund

    LT0025, 2018, Civic Space

  5. Public Services by NGOs

    LT0027, 2018, Civic Space

  6. Feasibility Study on NGO Satellite Account

    SK0077, 2017, Civic Space

  7. Citizen Access Point

    UY0089, 2016, Civic Space

  8. Foreign Aid Transparency

    SL0013, 2016, Civic Space

  9. Transparency of Loans and Aid from Foreign Countries

    MN0028, 2016, Civic Space

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

    MK0111, 2016, Civic Space

  11. Favorable Legal Environment for Social Contracts

    MK0117, 2016, Civic Space

  12. Transparency in Aid Management

    SE0015, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  13. Transparency in Social Organizations

    SV0078, 2016, Civic Space

  14. Creation of NGO Database.

    LT0022, 2016, Civic Space

  15. Creation of NGO Fund.

    LT0023, 2016, Civic Space

  16. Social Organizations Act

    SV0090, 2016, Civic Space

  17. Transformation of CSO Registration Procedure

    BG0047, 2016, Civic Space

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. Evaluate Grant Funding Open Data Application

    SK0030, 2015, Freedom of Association

  21. Sustainable Model of Financing NGOs

    LV0023, 2015, Civic Space

  22. Increased Access to Swedish Aid Information

    SE0010, 2014, Civic Space

  23. Increased Aid Transparency at Global Level

    SE0012, 2014, Civic Space

  24. National Civil Society Fund Model Development

    LT0011, 2014, Civic Space

  25. Financing of Charities

    UA0032, 2014, Civic Space

  26. Not-For-Profit Status for CSOs

    UA0033, 2014, Civic Space

  27. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  28. Foreign Aid and Foreign Investment

    MK0074, 2014, Civic Space

  29. Simplification and Digital Administration of Arrangements for NGOs

    NO0044, 2013, Civic Space

  30. Implementing the Commitments in the Busan Partnership Document

    SE0003, 2012, Freedom of Association

  31. Amendments to the Law on Community Associations

    UA0002, 2012, Civic Space

  32. NGO Fund

    LV0001, 2012, Civic Space

  33. 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.

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

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