Defending Civil Society Report and New Toolkit for NGOs

WMD logoOn June 20, during a United Nations Human Rights Council session, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Mr. Maina Kiai, made explicit that "the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are essential components of democracy ... These rights were for too long neglected in international human rights law."

Defending Civil Society ReportTo spotlight those rights, the international principles that protect them, and the practical ways for civil society groups to help improve the legal environment for their work,the World Movement for Democracy released the second edition of the Defending Civil Society report. As with the original 2008 edition, the updated version of the Report lists legal barriers constraining civil society organizations (CSOs) around the world; addresses state justifications rationalizing these legal barriers; and identifies a set of international principles that defends civil society. The Report calls for the promotion and implementation of those international principles. The second edition of the Report includes additional legal barriers and legal principles of fundamental relevance to civil society, including, for example, constraints and principles relating to the freedom of assembly.

In drafting the Report, the World Movement conducted global and regional consultations with grassroots activists, independent journalists, democracy assistance practitioners, scholars, and others. Interested readers may download the report in five languages: Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

In addition, the International Center for Non-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and the World Movement for Democracy released the Toolkit - Tips for Engaging in NGO Law Reforms, which is an online resource that provides tips, tools, and strategies for organizations and activists on how to participate effectively in the NGO law reform process. Available in multiple languages, the Toolkit contains information on topics like understanding and assessing one's legal environment, building a CSO coalition, and engaging government and legislators. The content for the Toolkit is based on the input of hundreds of civil society representatives in over 40 countries who were asked to share their knowledge and experiences.

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