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Termination and Dissolution

Introduction


      Voluntary termination

In most instances the termination of a non-governmental organisation - whether with or without legal personality - should be the voluntary act of its highest governing body.
Such a decision will be taken where the non-governmental organisation concerned has achieved its objectives, there is no wish to pursue them further or it is considered that they can be more effectively pursued through merger with another non-governmental organisation. See Paragraph 44 of the Council of Europe's Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe.

      Grounds for enforced termination

The termination of a non-governmental organisation through its enforced dissolution should only occur in the event of bankruptcy, prolonged inactivity or serious misconduct. See Paragraph 44 of the Council of Europe's Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe.

Prolonged inactivity entails at least several years having elapsed between meetings of the non-governmental organisation's highest governing body and there have been at least two failures to file annual reports on its accounts. See Paragraphs 44 and 74 of the Council of Europe's Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe.

Serious misconduct is wilfully engaging in activities that are inconsistent with the objectives for which a non-governmental organisation can be founded. The acts or omissions relied upon where this is alleged must be supported by compelling evidence and they must have been those of the non-governmental organisation concerned or be  justifiably attributed to it. Furthermore termination must be a proportionate response to the serious misconduct concerned. See Paragraphs 44 and 74 of the Council of Europe's Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe. See also United Communist Party of Turkey and Others v. Turkey [GC], 30 January 1998, Refah Partisi (the Welfare Party) and Others v. Turkey [GC], 13 February 2003, Korneenko et al. v. Belarus, (HRC), 31 October 2006,. Belyatsky et al. v. Belarus, (HRC), 24 July 2007, Association of Citizens Radko & Paunkovski v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 15 January 2009 and Tebieti Mühafize Cemiyyeti and Israfilov v. Azerbaijan, 8 October 2009.

      Requirement of judicial authorisation

The enforced termination of a non-governmental organisation should only be ordered by a court after giving the non-governmental organisation a fair hearing. An order for termination should always be subject to prompt appeal. See Paragraph 74 of the Council of Europe's Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe.

      Suspension pending an appeal

The effect of a court order for the enforced termination of a non-governmental organisation should be suspended pending the outcome of any appeal. See Paragraph 71 of the Council of Europe's Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe.

      Distribution of assets

Any funds or assets left after a non-governmental organisation's liabilities have been cleared following its enforced termination on account of serious misconduct may be passed to the state. See Paragraph 56 of the Council of Europe's Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe and Property and Income.



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