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Civil Society and Civil Liberties

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the relation between civil society and civil liberties. It outlines some of the recent problems that civil societies have faced, both in dealing with their own liberties to operate and in representing and advocating for the broader liberties of citizens. It describes the pattern of widely encompassing restrictions on the space and freedom accorded to civil society groups in China and Vietnam and then explains the dangers of prosecution and overregulation in restricting civil society as in the case of the U.S. It highlights the advantages of quasi-independent regulation and monitoring of civil society in Great Britain.

Keywords: civil society, civil liberties, freedom, restrictions, China, Vietnam, U.S., quasi-independent regulation, Great Britain

The spaces of civil society provide the arenas in which “citizens engage with each other in the public sphere, argue and deliberate about the issues of the day, build consensus around the future direction of their societies, and participate in democracy, governance and dialogic politics” (Edwards 2009, 64). But the state governs those spaces, expanding and restricting them over time according to the interests, systems, parties, and individuals in power. In some countries, the mechanisms for such control rely solely on the raw exercise of state or party authority, but in most nations, the law is a key mechanism for regulating the spaces in which civil society functions. This chapter outlines some of the recent problems that civil societies have faced, both in dealing with their own liberties to operate and in representing and advocating for the broader liberties of citizens.

Democratic states, broadly defined, impose some constraints on the spaces, rights, and liberties of civil society and civil society organizations, but those constraints tend to be functional in nature. Democratic states may regulate widely on civil society, including such topics as the extent of advocacy activities by some kinds of civil society groups as a condition for providing them with tax incentives, or the extent to which organizations may engage in business activities without paying tax. Direct and highly controlling restraints on social and political advocacy by civil society organizations are less common in democratic states, and they tend to be couched in terms of restrictions applicable to individuals and groups throughout society rather than focused on a defined set of civil society, nonprofit, charitable or other groups. But there are times when the spaces, rights, and liberties of civil society groups are directly threatened in democratic societies, and such episodes can be serious. The destruction of nonprofit organizations in the United States and the (p. 299) silencing of nonviolent advocacy under McCarthyism during the 1950s was one such moment, a time of exceptional challenge both for the organizations that came under attack and because of the chilling effect it exercised on a wide range of nonprofit, charitable, academic, advocacy and other groups throughout American society (Cole 2003). Some developments in the United States and the United Kingdom since September 11, 2001 also raise these concerns, particularly the overbroad regulation of terrorist financing, overseas grant making, and statutes that criminalize providing some kinds of support to or on behalf of groups that a government has defined as a “terrorist” organization.

Constraints on the space for civil society in democratic states have followed a pattern of broad restrictions on a wide range of organizations and direct restrictions on a small number of groups, with widening ripples of chilling effects on a broader range of associations and their activities. But in democratic states, civil society can fight back through the legal and policy process. In undemocratic states, the situation can be far more serious, because such states can raise and lower restrictions on civil society at their discretion, carefully calibrating the space accorded to different types of organization, the work they do, and the needs of the state or ruling party. China and Vietnam illustrate this pattern of strong, direct, highly discretionary, and widely encompassing restrictions in undemocratic states on the space and freedom accorded to civil society groups.

1. The Dangers of Prosecution and Overregulation: Restricting Civil Society in the United States

These themes have emerged with particular force since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Direct restrictions have been placed on the rights and freedom of action available to a relatively small group of civil society organizations through a highly contested process that, in one important case, has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, focused on the question of how laws can criminalize the provision of certain forms of support such as humanitarian assistance, political advocacy, or distributing literature to or on behalf of groups that a government has defined as a “terrorist” organization.1 These restrictions and other steps taken by the U.S. government have, at times, had a chilling effect on some activities carried out by the nonprofit sector (Sidel 2008, 2009a).

For the vast majority of American nonprofits and foundations, the primary impact of counterterrorism law and policy since September 11 has been the need for enhanced information gathering on partner organizations, including checks against government watch lists and the collection of “nonterror certifications”; and the shifting of risks for compliance downwards to the recipients of funds or to local (p. 300) affiliates of federated groups. For a minority of American organizations, however, counterterrorism law and policy has had an even greater effect. Some of the largest Muslim charities in the United States have been closed since 2001, their assets frozen, and in some cases the organizations and their leaders charged with material support for terrorism because of suspicion of their links with partner organizations in conflict areas overseas. The impact has also been felt directly by American public charities and foundations that work or make grants overseas, perhaps most acutely by organizations working in conflict areas where extremist groups and militant organizations operate. In a broad sense, the American nonprofit sector has sought to maintain its autonomy and vibrancy while agreeing and acceding to the government's interest in preventing nonprofit organizations from being conduits for terrorist finance or otherwise supporting terrorist organizations or their goals (Sidel 2009a; Guinane and Sazawal 2009).

The proscription and freezing of assets of several Muslim foundations on grounds of material support for terrorist organizations, and the attempt to promulgate new “voluntary” regulations governing the work of American organizations abroad, have been the most important regulatory actions in this area (Chesney 2005; Cole 2003; Crimm 2004). But the chilling effects of these measures went further than the letter of the law, as was their intent. These effects included the addition of unindicted “co-conspirator” organizations onto a government list that included many well-known and well-respected Muslim groups; civil actions against Muslim foundations; concerns in the American Muslim community about the impact of donating funds to organizations that might come under U.S. government scrutiny; and the impact of the Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-based Charities that were issued by the U.S. Treasury in 2002.2

These guidelines provided a detailed range of new provisions for charitable and philanthropic organizations to use in their overseas giving that were intended to prevent the channeling or diversion of American funds to terrorist organizations or purposes. They included the collection of considerably more information about recipient organizations than is often available, the vetting of grantees, and the extensive review of their financial operations way beyond accepted voluntary sector norms. These guidelines were significant to the U.S. nonprofit sector because, although they were voluntary, nonprofit organizations faced considerable risks of being investigated and prosecuted for failing to carry out the required due diligence. In the words of Barnett Baron, Executive Vice President of the Asia Foundation, the 2002 treasury guidelines carried the danger of “setting potentially unachievable due diligence requirements for international grant-making, [and] subjecting international grant-makers to high but largely undefined levels of legal risk, [which] could have the effect of reducing the already low level of legitimate international grant making” (Baron 2004). Legitimate charities struggled to comply with the standards, while less professional or less well-intentioned groups could just ignore them.

However, measures with a narrow direct impact and a broad chilling effect can also spur opposition, and the guidelines did precisely that, provoking a widespread response by charities and foundations that were engaged in overseas giving who (p. 301) demanded their withdrawal or substantial improvement, while also proposing their own Principles of International Charity, a new self-regulatory approach to ensuring that charitable funds did not find their way to terrorists.3 Partly in response to that opposition, the U.S. Treasury revised its guidelines in 2005 and 2006, but these changes did not satisfy the nonprofit sector. In 2007 the Treasury Department added a “risk matrix” for charitable institutions to use in connection with their overseas giving, also without consulting civil society groups themselves.4 By 2009, civil society and the Treasury Department were at an impasse, with nonprofits refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines, and the Treasury refusing to allow the Principles of International Charity to supplant them. In 2010, the new administration of President Barack Obama quietly opened discussions with representatives of the American nonprofit sector in an attempt to begin bridging some of these policy differences.

In practice, however, nonprofit fundraising and program activities had already begun to narrow, in part in response to concerns over U.S. government policies. Increasingly, overseas giving institutions were moving to a risk-shifting and risk analysis perspective in their activities, in line with the approach of the treasury's guidelines. The impact of government regulation was felt by prominent American foundations that were already concerned about potential investigations of their grant making by the U.S. government. For them, the stakes were high. Several of these organizations, most prominently the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, responded by shifting responsibility to their grantees for terrorism-related risks through new language in their grant contracts. Ford introduced new language in 2003 that required grantees to promise not to “promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any State, nor…make subgrants to any entity that engages in these activities.” This new language prompted initial opposition from a group of elite universities and, for a time, from the American Civil Liberties Union who decided not to accept new funds from Ford (Sherman 2006; Sidel 2007). In 2007, a prominent Indian nongovernmental organization (NGO) also raised this issue with the Ford Foundation, requesting modification of the foundation's grant letter to restrict the very broad limitations to which it would have bound grantees.

In other cases, the American nonprofit sector has beaten back legal changes that would have restricted civil society advocacy and other activities. One example was an attempt in 2004 by the U.S. government agency that operates the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), through which hundreds of thousands of federal employees donate to nonprofit organizations, requiring each nonprofit that receives CFC funds to investigate its own employees in order to certify that it “does not knowingly employ individuals or contribute funds to organizations found on the…terrorist related lists promulgated by the U.S. Government, the United Nations, or the European Union’ (Combined Federal Campaign 2003). This new requirement ignited a firestorm of opposition from the wide range of groups that received CFC funding. Eventually the American Civil Liberties Union and a number of other organizations filed suit against the federal government to overturn the new (p. 302) certification requirements (New York Times 2004; Washington Post 2004), and in November 2005 the federal government withdrew them (New York Times 2005).

The shifting of risk to recipient organizations goes even further than these examples suggest. In recent years, a number of local branches of the United Way in the United States have required that each nonprofit organization that receives funds—down to the smallest and most local charitable group—certifies that it complies with all anti-terrorist financing laws and regulations; that individuals or organizations that the organization works with are not on any government terrorism watch lists; and that no material support or resources are being provided to support or fund terrorism in any shape or form. In another example, it became clear in 2005 and 2006 that government surveillance of nonprofit organizations in the United States went far beyond the small number of Muslim charities and other groups that were suspected of direct terrorist ties. The American media revealed that the U.S. government had targeted a much broader swath of the nonprofit sector for observation. Hundreds of nonprofits have had their events monitored, their telephone calls logged, and their financial transactions examined by government agencies (Washington Post 2006).

In 2007, press reports indicated that the U.S. government was using software to search, track, and correlate donors to an undefined range of nonprofit organizations (Los Angeles Times 2007), and new reports emerged in 2007 and 2008 around government surveillance of nonprofits, particularly advocacy organizations, in several U.S. states. The New York Times and the New York Civil Liberties Union revealed in 2007 that the New York City Police Department had conducted surveillance on advocacy groups in at least thirteen states, as well as in Canada and Europe, before the 2004 Republican National Convention (New York Times 2007). In Maryland, the police and other security forces at the state and city level conducted surveillance on, and infiltrated, anti-war, anti-capital punishment and other nonprofit organizations in 2005 and 2006, with reports sent to “at least seven federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies” (ACLU of Maryland, 2008; Guinane and Sazawal 2009).

2. The Advantages of Quasi-Independent Regulation and Monitoring: Regulating Civil Society in the United Kingdom

British law also allows for the proscription of terrorist organizations and support for their meetings and other activities, bans fundraising and funding arrangements for “purposes of terrorism,” and prohibits retention or control of “terrorist property,” among other provisions (NCVO 2007). However, there are differences in the American and British approaches that offer useful lessons for the future in reducing the potential chilling effect of these restrictions on civil society. In particular, (p. 303) Britain's approach to shutting off terrorist finance through charities relies in significant measure on charity regulators as “first responders,” rather than simply shifting risks to recipients. The independent statutory regulator of charities in England and Wales is the Charity Commission, which has been at the forefront of charity-related terrorism financing investigations since before September 11, and which has played a key role in investigating, resolving, and where necessary collaborating in prosecuting ties between charities, terrorism and terrorist finance, while emphasizing the need for evidence and fairness in all such proceedings. The commission's central role was reaffirmed under the new Charities Act of 2006.

The Charity Commission's approach has been effective because of its wide investigatory and enforcement powers and its detailed understanding of developments in the U.K. charitable sector. In addition, the commission has had an array of means at its disposal to deal with failures to abide by the law, ranging from technical assistance and advice to, where needed, orders that can remove trustees, freeze funds, or close organizations, in partnership with security forces and prosecutors. Differences between the American and British approaches have emerged in several key cases. After the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government alleged that Interpal, a charity operating in both the United States and the United Kingdom, was supporting the political and/or violent activities of Hamas. After the U.S. government formally named Interpal as a “specially designated global terrorist” organization and proscribed its activities in the United States, the Charity Commission opened a formal inquiry and froze Interpal's accounts. The commission also requested “evidence to support the allegations made against Interpal” from the American government, but, according to a limited report from the commission, the U.S. government was “unable to provide evidence to support allegations made against Interpal within the agreed timescale.” After the U.S. government failed to deliver the evidence, the commission decided that, “in the absence of any clear evidence showing Interpal had links to Hamas’ political or violent militant activities,” Interpal's accounts would be unfrozen and the commission's inquiry closed. Although the United States and the United Kingdom diverged publicly on Interpal, the inquiry also enabled the Charity Commission to reassert that it will “deal with any allegation of potential links between a charity and terrorist activity as an immediate priority…liais[ing] closely with relevant intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies to facilitate a thorough investigation.” The Commission also re-emphasized that “as an independent statutory regulator the Commission will make its own decisions on the law and facts of the case” (Charity Commission 2003).

The July 2005 terrorist bombings in London and charges that other British-based charities were linked with terrorism brought renewed pressure to clamp down on terrorist networks and their financing. In February 2006, the then-chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown, announced that the U.K. Government would review measures to combat the use of charities in terrorist finance and establish a new intelligence centre to investigate terrorist financing networks around the world and their impact on Great Britain (The Guardian 2006). (p. 304) Increasingly, however, American officials and commentators were critical of the process-based British approach, calling the Charity Commission and other British institutions too lax (New York Times 2006). Sharper measures were announced in late 2006, when the British government said it would “use classified intelligence to freeze assets of those suspected of having links to terrorism,” “allow law enforcement agencies to keep their sources of information secret after it is used to track down and freeze bank accounts,” and seek pre-emptive authority to halt terrorist financing. These and other hardening moves came under criticism in a report from the National Council of Voluntary Organizations (NCVO) in early 2007 entitled Security and Civil Society (2007). The report called on the government to view charities as allies in the fight against terrorism rather than as adversaries and pointed out the fundamental sufficiency of the existing legal regime. It criticized the impact of some government actions in this arena on charitable activities in the United Kingdom and abroad, particularly with respect to Muslim organizations.

The Home Office and Treasury review of charities and terrorist finance was released in May 2007, and it called for tighter coordination between the Charity Commission and government agencies dealing with terrorism and terrorist finance, a move by the commission to undertake more prosecutions, increased funding for investigations rather than improved governance in the sector, and other measures.5 The response from the NCVO on the potential impact of these measures on civil society was swift and critical: “By placing a veil of suspicion over all charities, the Government is in danger of damaging the trusted reputation of the voluntary sector and making people less likely to donate to good causes.”6 The Charity Commission's response, considered and drafted very carefully, described plans to accelerate its work on terrorist finance and to strengthen coordination with government agencies, but in ways that would avoid too deep a chilling effect on the sector: “The way we tackle the risk of terrorist abuse of charities falls squarely within our existing approach to regulation; we are uniquely placed to deal with abuse where it does occur, collaborate with other regulators and agencies and other parts of government and support trustees to protect their charities; when allegations of terrorist involvement or links with charities arise, we deal with them as a matter of priority. We will deal proactively, robustly, effectively and swiftly when we have evidence or serious suspicions of terrorist abuse involving charities; effective regulation involves putting a strong emphasis on giving support and guidance to charities to prevent problems and abuse occurring in the first place; we believe that the most effective way for the sector to minimize its exposure to the risk of terrorist abuse is through implementing strong governance arrangements, financial management and partner management” (Charity Commission 2008). The Charity Commission's firm actions against the misuse of charitable groups while maintaining its independence and advising the sector on effective measures to avoid involvement with terrorism and associated criminal penalties, have been a contrast to the harsher, broader, and arguably less effective policies of the United States.

(p. 305) 3. The Imperative to Control: Restricting Civil Society in China and Vietnam

In democratic states, civil society can fight back. In undemocratic states, the situation is far more serious, because such states can raise and lower restrictions on civil society virtually at their discretion, carefully calibrating the space accorded different types of organization, the work that they do, and the needs of the state or ruling party. China and Vietnam illustrate this pattern of strong, direct, highly discretionary, and widely encompassing restrictions on the space and freedom accorded to civil society groups. The mechanisms used to impose such restrictions are clear, and they echo the use of measures already deployed in democratic and semidemocratic states.

These mechanisms include direct restrictions on registration and the status of civil society groups; broad and discretionary prohibitions on the purposes for which groups can be formed, often without grounds for appeal or any administrative or judicial process; broad government discretion to dissolve, terminate, or take over offending institutions and their assets, often without effective grounds for appeal or due process; limited tax incentives for civil society organizations and high levels of government discretion in implementing tax policy, including limitations on advocacy, representation, and other groups that the government disfavors; limitations on fundraising and foreign funding, particularly for advocacy, public interest, and other disfavored groups; high spending requirements and limitations on permitted investments; and discretionary requirements for organizational governance, including a plethora of required government approvals.

In China, civil society and its accompanying regulatory framework have become considerably more complex in recent years. The range of nonprofit, philanthropic, and other social organizations has expanded rapidly, as have their fields of activity. At the same time, the management of the emerging civil society sector by the Communist Party and state agencies remains exceptionally robust, highly discretionary and reactive, and extremely effective in controlling the organizations that the state seeks to control. Some social organizations are managed relatively lightly, including a significant number that provide social services or conduct other work that the state supports and that are not perceived as threats. But advocacy, religious, and policy-oriented groups are much more heavily managed and controlled by the authorities. In some cases, organizations have been closed and civil society activists have been detained, tried, and imprisoned for their activities.

The legal framework required to manage this highly differentiated process of state control has its origins in China's 1982 constitution and in an array of regulatory documents promulgated and enacted since the late 1980s. These documents regulate the full range of social organizations in China, including associations, often referred to as social organizations (shehui tuanti), foundations ( jijinhui), civil nonenterprise institutions (minban fei qiye danwei), and quasi-governmental public (p. 306) institution (shiye danwei). Under the Chinese Constitution, particularly Article 35, freedom of association is guaranteed, at least in textual form. In practice, however, laws, regulations, and policies belie that broad constitutional freedom. The party retains strong authority and wide discretion to control the registration, activities, governance, fundraising, and voice of each kind of civil society group. In particular, the government erects strong, high, and discretionary barriers to entry based in policy, practice, and regulation. Registration procedures are complex and cumbersome, with extensive documentation and approval requirements. Many social organizations therefore operate without formal registration, making them even more vulnerable to state discretion and control.

Broad prohibition clauses bar the registration of groups that are perceived to oppose the state and/or the party, or challenge traditional customs. Barriers to operational activities are detailed and can be raised or lowered by the authorities at their discretion, depending in large part on which specific organizations are regarded as “oppositional” or “contributory.” But even for registered organizations that have no significant issues with the state, registration, reporting and other requirements can be quite burdensome, particularly for small organizations. The regulatory framework allows for significant government intervention and interference and state security forces intensively monitor organizations of particular sensitivity to the party and the state. The enforcement of such rules can quickly halt the activities of disfavored groups, which are usually advocacy and public interest organizations, and send a clear, chilling message to other organizations that social services and related activities are the favored work that civil society groups should undertake (ICNL 2010).

One recent example is the case of the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng), which provided public interest and civil rights advocacy support to a range of citizens and organizations in Beijing, including the investigation of major scandals such as the distribution of tainted milk in which dozens of children died. When the Chinese government decided to close the Open Constitution Initiative in 2009, it began by using nonprofit tax regulations and leveled a fine of 1.42 million Chinese yuan against the organization for tax evasion. Then the Initiative was raided by the civil authority responsible for nonprofit organizations, the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau, which formally closed the office, while the organization's leaders were detained by security forces.7 This tripartite use of civil affairs, security, and tax authorities in a coordinated set of actions killed off an important advocacy organization within days, while also sending a strong message to other advocacy, public interest, and representational groups around China to be cautious in their activities (Chinese Human Rights Defenders 2009). Other forms of civil society activity can be dealt with in even more summary fashion, including through the detention or trial of persons who sign petitions calling for more rapid political reform (such as Charter 08),8 or those who criticized corruption in the building of schools in Sichuan province, a contributing factor in the deaths of many children after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.9

(p. 307) A similar range of methods is used in Vietnam, where efforts to enact a national law on associations foundered in 2005 and 2006, partly because of concerns from the party and the government that such a law could codify more expansive rights for civil society groups that might eventually come to threaten party control (Sidel 2009b). What remains in place is a strict 2003 decree on the organization, operation, and management of associations that severely limits the organization and activities of civil society groups and provides the government with wide discretion to challenge organizations, especially those undertaking advocacy and public interest representation. That decree provides for a long and complex process of organizational formation (thereby discouraging most organizations from forming); broad prohibition clauses barring a wide range of activities and maintaining exceptionally wide party and government discretion over associations; highly detailed organizational requirements and approvals for a wide range of organizational changes including board and staff; restrictions on branches and on bank accounts; retention of the traditional “dual master” or “dual management” system of associational governance by the state in which groups are controlled both by specialized line ministries as well as by a dedicated agency; and limits on advocacy in relation to the party and government policies that restrict “advice and criticism [to] matters within the association's scope of activities.” In short, the 2003 Decree on Associations is a document to retain state control and send a strong message to civil society groups: that they should not challenge the party or the state.

Attempts to relax these restrictions have thus far failed, initially during an abortive attempt to adopt a broader law on associations in 2005 and 2006. Concerned with the potential impact of the law, the widespread debate that was occurring at the time on civil society regulation, and the role of NGOs in the “color revolutions” of eastern and central Europe, the law's progress towards passage was shut down by the party in 2006 (Sidel and Vasavakul 2006). The government continued to use older regulations both as a weapon and a message to the wider array of newly formed charitable and nonprofit groups in Vietnam. In particular, in 2009 the government closed a policy advocacy group, the Vietnam Institute of Development Studies (VIDS), which had angered some in the party and in government for its wide-ranging discussions of development alternatives and its commentaries on government policy (BBC 2009).

This closure was accomplished by an administrative regulation directed specifically against the institute, but with the clear implication that a line had been crossed for others. To reinforce the point, a list was included in the administrative regulation prohibiting policy and advocacy work in economic policy, public policy, political issues, and a range of other sensitive areas. According to the decision, “organizations “may only conduct activities within the areas under the List promulgated with this Decision. If they have views (phan bien) on the line, guidelines, or policies of the party or the state those views must be provided to party or state agencies with jurisdiction over such issues, and may not be released publicly.”10

(p. 308) 4. Conclusion

Every society provides some form of regulation, some restrictions or constraints, on the role of civil society and its organizations. The space provided by the state can differ dramatically from country to country, and is obviously more restricted in nondemocratic regimes, but it will not do to discuss the constraints on civil society in one-party states alone. Every government restricts civil society to one degree or another, and even in more democratic states there are times when those restrictions can have a significant impact. The decade following September 11, 2001 was one such time, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, where enhanced government regulation has directly inhibited the activities and operations of a small number of organizations, and had a chilling effect on civil society as a whole in terms of the range of activities and innovations that organizations and foundations have been willing to fund or undertake. Elsewhere, states deploy severe restrictions on the space available to nonprofits not only in times of crisis but on an ongoing basis, seeking to mold a civil society that serves the state's needs for social service provision while discouraging—and at times even seeking to eradicate—advocacy, public interest lobbying, and other challenging activities. Both paradigms are at work across the world, and both serve to restrict the spaces of civil society which are essential to the prospects of democracy and social justice.

What should governments do to strengthen the role of civil society organizations under the law, while also maintaining a level of regulation appropriate to prevent the use of such groups for terrorist purposes (or as participants in terrorism); for fraud, or for other goals that states rightfully find unacceptable? Democratic states need to avoid overly broad and overly limiting rules that seek to restrict, channel, or excessively regulate some forms of conduct (such as overseas grants, or fundraising in Muslim communities), in the hope that actual criminal violations, which are much more rare, will be deterred by such restrictions. Nonprofits and civil society organizations are not the enemy of the state. In nondemocratic states, governments are clearly and intentionally focused on restricting the role of civil society groups through legal and political means. Where feasible, outside donors, foundations, governments, and NGOs should work with such states to help them recognize the benefits of civil society and the importance of guaranteeing nonprofit groups the freedoms that many of these states already enshrine in their laws and constitutions. But opening up to a broader role for civil society—particularly for advocacy, representative, and policy-focused groups—is a lengthy process that depends primarily on domestic developments. Helping such states with carefully drafted laws and policies that achieve a workable and gradually expanding balance between rights and responsibilities may bear fruit even in restrictive contexts.


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                                                    (1.) For more detailed information on this important case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, see

                                                    (2.) For the revised version of the guidelines, see

                                                    (3.) See the Principles of International Charity at

                                                    (6.) See NCVO, “Overstating the risk of terrorist abuse could damage trust in charities,” available at

                                                    (7.) Among many newspaper and other reports on the Gongmeng closure, see Wong, 2009.

                                                    (8.) See, for example, articles in the New York Times on April 30 and December 24, 2009.

                                                    (9.) See New York Times2010.

                                                    (10.) Decision 97 of the Prime Minister (97/2009/-TTg) Promulgating the List of Areas in which Individuals are Permitted to Form Science and Technology Organizations; Vietnamese text available at translated by Mark Sidel).