The Right to Receive Funding

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.

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  • Case Studies
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RIGHT TO RECEIVE FUNDING INFOGRAPHIC

Click the picture to view the infographic in English.
Click the picture to view the infographic in English.

Restrictions on civil society’s ability to access funding are not limited to specific laws, but can be disguised in administrative provisions and practices or extralegal activities coordinated by governments against independent CSOs. Governments often target CSOs that receive international funding by publicly accusing them of being “foreign agents” or corrupt. They place burdensome restrictions on banks and insurers to discourage them from providing services to CSO that receive funding, or place travel restrictions on CSO employees. They may also encourage pro-government groups and media outlets to harass or slander CSOs that receive international funding from legal sources. This site offers a set of tools to help activists protect their right to access resources.

 

 

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UPDATE: UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE AFFIRMS CIVIL SOCIETY’S RIGHT TO RECEIVE FUNDING

On July 29, 2020 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published General Comment #37 on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the right to peaceful assembly. Article 33 within the General Comment affirms the right of activists and civil society organizations to receive resources to support their work. General Comments are official UN interpretations of provisions in binding international human rights laws, making Article 33 of the General Comment the strongest international mechanism yet for protecting civil society’s right to receive funding.

Read the General Comment here.

 

UN EXPERT CHRISTOF HEYNS ON GENERAL COMMENT #37

Watch our Steering Committee member Hassan Shire discuss General Comment #37 on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly with UN Expert Christof Heyns. Read the General Comment here.

CIVIL SOCIETY ADVOCATES FOR THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE FUNDING!

While it is important to raise awareness about government actions that restrict civic spaces and civil liberties, it’s also important to highlight countries where civil society has successfully advocated for their freedoms and their right to receive funding. We recently held an online discussion with activists from Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Guatemala to talk about the threats they faced and how these successes were achieved. You can also learn more about these civil society success stories by reading the below three cases studies.

Watch this discussion with activists here:

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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A GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE DONOR SUPPORT

Donors support civil society because of its potential to promote good governance and equitable development. Yet, donor support has had mixed results due to persistent challenges, including sector resilience, short term partnerships, legitimacy, donor oversight, and government restrictions. Watch below for strategies to overcome these challenges.

EXTERNAL RESOURCES

VIDEOS

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

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly & Association, Clement Voule, outlines key principles to protect human rights as governments draft responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes civil societies right to receive funding. Read his full statement here.

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.

News & Alerts

August 17, 2020

The World Movement Congratulates UN Human Rights Committee on General Comment 37

The World Movement and other civil society organizations including those involved in the Civic Space Initiative (CSI) released a joint statement to congratulate the UN Human Rights Committee on the issuance of its landmark guidance on the right of peaceful assembly: General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 of the ICCPR. General Comment No. 37 […]

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August 17, 2020

UN Human Rights Committee Affirms Civil Society’s Right to Receive Funding!

On July 29, 2020 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published the Human Rights Committee’s General Comment on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the right to peaceful assembly. Among strengthening international law on a variety of issues related to assemblies, the […]

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