Access to Resources

The right of citizens to form associations, and receive funding to pursue their missions, is enshrined in international human rights law. Yet over 160 laws in nearly 70 countries have been passed to restrict this right since 2012 (ICNL). These laws severely constrain the ability of CSOs to implement programs that serve their communities, and ultimately threaten their sustainability. This site offers a set of tools to help activists protect their right to access resources.

RIGHT TO ACCESS RESOURCES INFOGRAPHIC

Click the picture to view the infographic in English.

Are you an activist curious about your legal right to receive domestic and foreign funding? The “Civil Society and the Right to Access Resources” interactive infographic provides clarification about this issue. The tool demonstrates how the right to access donor funding is defined by the international community and explains key elements of international law that protect it. It also highlights how restrictive governments use registration, tax, and anti-terrorism laws to limit these rights and suggests advocacy strategies activists can use to protect this right. Click here to view the text version of the infographic.

 

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CASE STUDIES

In July 2017, the World Movement surveyed civil society activists around the world about their ability to access funding. The survey considered restrictions governments place on CSOs’ right to access funding, and strategies activists used to defend this right. The following case studies are organized according to the strategies activists used. Click through the panels to discover how and where civil society uses these strategies!

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Conducting public outreach

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Conducting public outreach

CSOs have leveraged public support for their work protecting the right to access funding. Reaching out to the public to foster general awareness about the importance of CSOs' work has helped activists defend their right to access funding in several countries.

Establishing NGO and CSO coalitions

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Establishing NGO and CSO coalitions

Members of civil society have established NGO and CSO coalitions to build solidarity. Coalitions serve as platforms to develop a uniform understanding of, and strategies to protect, CSOs’ legal right to access funding.

Pursuing litigation and/or legal analysis

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Pursuing litigation and/or legal analysis

CSOs have taken legal action to protect their right to access funding by appealing to national and regional courts. Litigation has established a formal expectation of governments to respect civil society's rights.

Interacting with government and politicians

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Interacting with government and politicians

To protect their right to access funding, members of civil society have maintained ongoing relationships with government officials and politicians. CSOs have effectively used these relationships influenced policy decisions.

Working with donors and diplomatic community

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Working with donors and diplomatic community

International donors and the diplomatic community can influence national governments. Civil society sometimes seeks support from these communities to pressure their governments to ease restrictions on the right to access funding.

Working with multilateral institutions

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Working with multilateral institutions

Multilateral institutions (MIs) can influence governments and facilitate dialogue with civil society. CSOs have shared information about barriers they face in trying to accessing funding with MIs, which are sometimes able to raise their concerns with governments.

Using alternative resource streams

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Using alternative resource streams

When repressive governments restrict access to funding, civil society is often forced to seek alternative resources. Leveraging volunteers and potential revenue building activities has helped CSOs continue their work in restrictive legal environments.

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VIDEOS

Watch activists discuss restrictions on their right to access resources and the wider implications it poses for civil society.

President of the Moroccan Housewives Association describes the right to access resources and its importance in allowing CSOs to provide services to citizens that governments are sometimes unable to deliver.

Radio Horytna’s story about Case 173 in Egypt, also known as the “case on foreign funding of civil society,” in which activists explain the importance of civil society and its ability to receive foreign and domestic funding.

The Egyptian Center for Public Policy’s “Free NGOs in Egypt” Campaign explains how Egypt’s 2016 NGO law will negatively impact society by preventing CSOs from receiving funding and serving communities.

EXTERNAL RESOURCES

News & Alerts

November 17, 2017

Are you a member of civil society in Africa?

Read the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Guidelines on Freedom of Association, which protects your legal right to access foreign and domestic funding in Section VI.

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October 25, 2017

Civil Space in Peril: Responding to Raids

Last month, civil society organizations across Uganda endured office raids by the country’s police, who spent hours removing documents and confiscating phones and laptops. The raids in Uganda offer insight into a deeper—and troubling—trend: in many parts of the world, civil society organizations are experiencing a crackdown by governments that are increasingly turning to bureaucratic […]

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