Saturday, May 4, 2013

International Principles Protecting Civil Society


International Principles Protecting Civil Society

To protect civil society organizations (CSOs) from the application of the legal barriers described in this Report, this section seeks to articulate principles that govern and protect CSOs from repressive intrusions by government.

Principle 1: The Right to Entry (Freedom of Association)
(1) International law protects the right of individuals to form, join, and participate in civil society
organizations.
(a) Broad scope of right. Freedom of association protects the right of individuals to form
trade unions, associations, and other types of CSOs.
(b) Broadly permissible purposes. International law recognizes the right of individuals, through CSOs, to pursue a broad range of objectives. Permissible purposes generally embrace all “legal” or “lawful” purposes and specifically include the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
(c) Broadly eligible founders. The architecture of international human rights is built on the premise that all persons, including non-citizens, enjoy certain rights, including the freedom of association.
(2) Individuals are not required to form a legal entity in order to enjoy the freedom of association.
(3) International law protects the right of individuals to form a CSO as a legal entity.
(a) The system of recognition of legal entity status, whether a “declaration” or
“registration/incorporation” system, must ensure that the process is truly accessible, with clear, speedy, apolitical, and inexpensive procedures in place.
(b) In the case of a registration/incorporation system, the designated authority must be guided by objective standards and restricted from arbitrary decision making.

Principle 2: The Right to Operate Free from Unwarranted State Interference
(1) Once established, CSOs have the right to operate free from unwarranted state intrusion or
interference in their affairs. International law creates a presumption against any regulation or
restriction that would amount to interference in recognized rights.
(a) Interference can only be justified where it is prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
(b) Laws and regulations governing CSOs should be implemented and enforced in a fair, apolitical, objective, transparent, and consistent manner.
(c) The involuntary termination or dissolution of a CSO must meet the standards of  international law; the relevant government authority should be guided by objective  standards and restricted from arbitrary decision making.
(2) CSOs are protected against unwarranted governmental intrusion in their internal governance
and affairs. Freedom of association embraces the freedom of the founders and/or members to regulate the organization’s internal governance.
(3) Civil society representatives, individually and through their organizations, are protected
against unwarranted interference with their privacy.

Principle 3: The Right to Free Expression
(1) Civil society representatives, individually and through their organizations, enjoy the right to
freedom of expression.
(2) Freedom of expression protects not only ideas regarded as inoffensive or a matter of
indifference but also those that offend, shock, or disturb, since pluralism and the free flow of
ideas are essential in a democratic society. CSOs are therefore protected in their ability to speak
critically about government law or policy, and to speak favorably about human rights and fundamental freedoms.
(3) Interference with freedom of expression can only be justified where it is provided by law and
necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others; or for the protection of national
security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

Principle 4: The Right to Communication and Cooperation
(1) Civil society representatives, individually and through their organizations, have the right to
communicate and seek cooperation with other representatives of civil society, the business
community, and international organizations and governments, both within and outside their
home countries.
(2) The right to receive and impart information, regardless of frontiers, through any media,
embraces communication via the Internet and information and communication technologies
(ICTs).
(3) Individuals and CSOs have the right to form and participate in networks and coalitions in
order to enhance communication and cooperation, and to pursue legitimate aims.

Principle 5: The Right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly
(1) Civil society representatives, individually and through their organizations, enjoy the right to
freedom of peaceful assembly.
(2) The law should affirm a presumption in favor of holding assemblies. Those seeking to
assemble should not be required to obtain permission to do so.
(a) Where advance notification is required, notification rules should not be so onerous as
to amount to a requirement of permission or to result in arbitrary denial.
(b) The law should allow for spontaneous assembly as an exception to the notification
requirement, where the giving of notice is impracticable.
(3) The law should allow for simultaneous assemblies or counter-demonstrations, while
recognizing the governmental responsibility to protect peaceful assemblies and participants in
them.
(4) Interference with freedom of assembly can only be justified where it is in conformity with the
law and necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety,
public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the
rights and freedoms of others.

Principle 6: The Right to Seek and Secure Resources
Within broad parameters, CSOs have the right to seek and secure funding from legal sources,
including individuals, businesses, civil society, international organizations, and intergovernmental organizations, as well as local, national, and foreign governments.

Principle 7: State Duty to Protect
(1) The State has a duty to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the
obligation to protect the rights of civil society. The State’s duty is both negative (i.e., to refrain
from interference with human rights and fundamental freedoms), and positive (i.e., to ensure
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms).
(2) The State duty includes an accompanying obligation to ensure that the legislative framework
relating to fundamental freedoms and civil society is appropriately enabling, and that the
necessary institutional mechanisms are in place to ensure the recognized rights of all individuals.

The furthermore information, please link to original website: http://www.icnl.org/research/journal/vol14iss3/v14n3%20final.pdf
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