States should enable NGOs to access foreign funding, say Venice Commission experts

Venice Commission Venice 15 March 2019
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States should enable NGOs to access foreign funding, say Venice Commission experts

In the wake of recent challenges to the independent functioning of associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Council of Europe's constitutional legal experts today adopted a report on standards with respect to foreign funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Council of Europe member states.

Over the last four years, the Venice Commission has been critical of misinterpretations of European standards – both with and without intent – to discourage foreign funding of NGOs on political grounds.

Recent examples of this issue include opinions on Ukraine and Hungary and Russia.

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland requested this new report, which may lead to a recommendation from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The report stresses that the right of associations to seek financial and material resources is protected as an “inherent part” of the right to freedom of association and that this concept has been confirmed already in international instruments, including Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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