Similarly, the Human Rights Committee has consistently expressed concern over funding restrictions as an impediment to fully realizing the right to freedom of association. For example, after reviewing Egyptian legislation, which required NGOs receiving foreign funding to register with the government, the Committee stated that:
In Ramazanova v. Azerbaijan, the ECtHR found that State measures hampering an NGO’s access to funding may infringe its right to the freedom of association, thereby recognizing that access to resources is part and parcel of the right to freedom of association. The Court found that:
even assuming that theoretically the association had a right to exist pending the state registration, the domestic law effectively restricted the association’s ability to function properly without legal entity status. It could not, inter alia, receive any ‘grants’ or financial donations that constituted one of the main sources of financing of non-governmental organizations in Azerbaijan. Without proper financing, the association was not able to engage in charitable activities which constituted the main purpose of its existence.Ramazanova v. Azerbaijan, ECtHR, Judgment of 1 February 2007, para. 59.
The UN Human Rights Committee, the Inter-American Court and Commission on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights have all recognized that restricting access to foreign funding may constitute a violation of the right to freedom of association, thereby asserting the principle that accessing resources is part and parcel of the right to freedom of association. access foreign funding
10.3. Associations may access foreign funding
International law has consistently held that the right to freedom of association includes accessing foreign funding and that limitations to it may constitute violations of the right to freedom of association.
International institutions have specifically emphasized and acknowledged the right to access foreign funding for associations protecting human rights. The United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on Human Rights Defenders states:
Any restriction on an association’s access to funding, including foreign funding, must be precisely drafted so as to eliminate the possibility of arbitrary or overly-broad interpretations of its terms. See Ezelin v. France, ECtHR, Judgment of 26 April 1991, paras. 21–22, 45. For example, in Zhechev v. Bulgaria, the ECtHR found that the term “political activity” was too broad and open to so many potential interpretations that most activities carried out by any organization could be considered a political activity:
[I]n the present case these courts [Bulgarian national courts] deemed that a campaign for changes in the constitution and the form of government fell within that category. In another recent case these same courts had, more questionably, stated that the ‘holding of meetings, demonstrations, assemblies and other forms of public campaigning’ by an association campaigning for regional autonomy and alleged minority rights also amounted to political goals and activities within the meaning of Article 12 § 2 of the Constitution of 1991.’Zhechev v. Bulgaria, ECtHR, Judgment of 21 June 2007, para. 55.
The reasons for which freedom of association may be restricted are exhaustively determined under international law (see Association Section 6.2). The general argument of “protecting national interests” to limit access to foreign funding is not a protected aim under international law. In a joint report, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions noted:
Within the same realm, the ECtHR has held that States may not refuse to register or acknowledge an association on the basis that it was founded by “foreigners” or is a branch of an international association.Moscow Branch of Salvation Army v Russia, ECtHR, Judgment of 5 October 2006, para. 86; see also, Partidul Comunistilor Nepeceristi and Ungureanu v. Romania, ECtHR, Judgment of 2 February 2005, para. 49.
Moscow Branch of Salvation Army v Russia, ECtHR, Judgment of 5 October 2006, para. 86; see also, Partidul Comunistilor Nepeceristi and Ungureanu v. Romania, ECtHR, Judgment of 2 February 2005, para. 49. ↑