Special Project:

Protecting Civic Space and the Right to Access Resources – a joint project with the Community of Democracies

The ability to seek, receive and utilize resources is an inherent part of the right to freedom of association.

This shouldn’t be a controversial statement. By definition, organizations need resources – financial, human and material – to operate. Without money, staff and equipment, an association is reduced to an empty shell – a vehicle stripped of its engine, fuel and driver. Unfortunately, civil society’s ability to access resources is far from secure in today’s world. Restrictions on funding have in recent years become a major threat to associations in a range of countries across all regions of the world, as UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has repeatedly pointed out.

In an effort to fight this trend, the Special Rapporteur partnered with the Community of Democracies in 2014 to launch a project dedicated to enhancing space for civil society, with a particular focus on the ability to access financial resources.

The centerpiece of the project is a series of regional dialogues led by Maina Kiai. These dialogues will bring together members of local and regional civil society groups to hear about their challenges. Consultations will also be held with government officials, with the ultimate goal of expanding the body of knowledge on this subject, disseminating information on existing legislation, and enhancing protection at the domestic level of civil society’s right to freedom of association – and, in particular, access to funding.

This page hosts information, news and documents related to the project – including the latest on the Special Rapporteur’s regional dialogues. Links to stories and photos from completed dialogues are available on the right side of this page.

(Photo: TaxCredits.net/Flickr)

General Principles: Protecting civic space and the right to access resources

<p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://freeassembly.net/factsheets/funding/" target="_blank">Click here for a factsheet on the right to resources, produced jointly by the UNSR and the Community of Democracies</a></span></p>

Schedule: Regional dialogues

Regional Dialogue for the OSCE region
Warsaw, Poland
Civil society - May 7, 2014 (complete)
Governments - Oct. 25, 2014 (complete)

Regional Dialogue for Africa
Pretoria, South Africa
Civil society - Nov. 17-18, 2014 (complete)
Governments - TBD

Regional Dialogue for Latin America
Santiago, Chile
Civil society & governments - April 27-28, 2015 (complete)

Regional Dialogue for Asia
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Civil society - Nov. 5, 2015 (complete)
Governments - Jan. 20, 2016 (complete)

Regional Dialogue for Middle East & North Africa
Location & date TBD

Useful links: Civil society’s ability to access resources

<div data-canvas-width="225.16"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/human_rights/international-and-comparative-law-analysis-on-the-right-to-foreign-funding.authcheckdam.pdf" target="_blank">International and comparative law analysis of the right to and restrictions on foreign funding of NGOs</a></span> - American Bar Association study published in 2015</div>
<div data-canvas-width="225.16"> </div>
<div data-canvas-width="225.16"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://www.icnl.org/research/journal/vol17ss1/Rutzen.pdf" target="_blank">Aid barriers and the rise of philanthropic protectionism</a></span> - March 2015 study published by Doug Rutzen of the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law</div>