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Foreign Associations and NGOs

Introduction


      Establishing or joining non-governmental organisations abroad

Apart from the restrictions on capacity already considered (see Formation and Membership), persons resident in one country should not be required to obtain permission from a public authority there before they can form or join a non-governmental organisation in another country (see İzmir Savaş Karşıtları Derneği and Others v. Turkey, 2 March 2000).

      Need for authorisation for foreign non-governmental organisations to operate

Foreign non-governmental organisations may be required to obtain authorisation to operate in a country other than the one in which they have been established. However, they should not be required to establish a new and separate entity for this purpose (see Paragraph 45 of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe).

However, decisions with respect to the grant or refusal of authorisation need to take account of commitments both to facilitate the work of human rights defenders (see the United Nations General Assembly's Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities and Paragraph 43 of the Document of the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, Moscow, 3 October 1991) and to recognise the legal personality of NGOs established in other countries (see the European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations (CoE)).

      Scope of accountability and supervision obligations

Foreign non-governmental organisations can be subjected to the same accountability requirements as non-governmental organisations with legal personality in their host country but these requirements should only be applicable to their activities in that country (see Paragraph 66 of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe).

      Withdrawal of authorisation to operate

Any approval for a foreign non-governmental organisation to operate can only be withdrawn by the host country in the event of its bankruptcy, prolonged inactivity or serious misconduct (see Paragraph 74 of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe). Such approval would also automatically lapse in the event of the foreign non-governmental organisation concerned dissolving itself.

Where serious misconduct is invoked to withdraw approval to operate, the acts or omissions relied upon must - as in the case of terminating or dissolving a non-governmental organisation (see Termination and Dissolution) - be supported by compelling evidence and be those of the organisation concerned or be justifiably attributed to it. Furthermore withdrawal of approval must be a proportionate response to the serious misconduct concerned.

Any withdrawal of approval for foreign non-governmental organisations to operate should be subject to prompt appeal to an independent and impartial court with full jurisdiction (see Paragraph 74 of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe).



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