Iraqi Council of Representatives approves new Law on Non-Govermental Organizations

25 January 2010

ICNL is pleased to announce the passage earlier today of a new Law on Non-Governmental Organizations for the Republic of Iraq. The new law, which now awaits the final signature of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, will replaceCoalition Provisional Authority Order Number 45. The new Law on Non-Governmental Organizations is a significant improvement upon both CPA Order 45 as well as the draft law first introduced in the Iraqi parliament in March 2009. The table below briefly summarizes several of the most important provisions.

Issue

CPA Order 45 
(current law in force)

March 2009 Government Draft

New Law on Non-Governmental Organizations

Minimum Number of NGO Founders

Not specified

Five natural or legal persons (Article 5)

Three legal or natural persons (Articles 4, 5)

Registration of NGOs

Mandatory in all cases (Section 2.1)

Mandatory in all cases (Article 25)

Voluntary

Ability to Appeal Denial of Registration or Suspension or Revocation of License

No right to appeal

May appeal to Minister of State for Civil Society Affairs; Minister's decision may be appealed to administrative court (Article 24)

May be appealed directly to Court of Appeals (Article 8)

Restrictions on Purchase or Sale of Real Estate

Permissible only for domestic NGOs, not foreign NGOs (Section 7.2)

Subject to approval of government; no limits on discretionary authority (Article 14)

None (Article 14)

Reporting Requirements

Quarterly activity reports (Section 2.5) and annual activity and financial reports (Section 9)

One financial report and one activity report per year plus "any other reports that the Department deems necessary" (Article 15)

One financial report and one activity report per year (Article 15)

Government Discretion to Audit NGOs

Permissible at any time, with or without cause (Section 5.1)

Permissible at any time, with or without cause (Article 21)

Requires reasonable suspicion that “accounts are manipulated or not accurate” (Article 21)

Authority to Dissolve NGO or Confiscate Funds

At discretion of government officials; no court order required (Section 6)

At discretion of government officials; no court order required (Article 24)

Requires court order (Articles 16, 24)

Restrictions on Foreign Affiliations

Must inform government of intention to affiliate (Section 8.1)

Requires prior approval of government (Article 22)

None (Article 22)

Government Discretion to Limit Fundraising

None

Domestic and foreign fundraising subject to approval of government; no limits on discretionary authority (Article 17)

None

Criminal Punishments

None - all sanctions are administrative (Section 6)

Imprisonment of up to three years for specified violations of NGO law (Article 25)

None – all sanctions are administrative  (Article 24)

ICNL is honored to have had the opportunity to provide legislative support and technical assistance over the last year to Iraqi civil society leaders and government officials, including the lead sponsor of the bill, MP ‘Ala Talabani, as the draft legislation was revised and finalized. We wish to thank the US Department of State – Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor for their generous support of ICNL’s technical assistance program, as well as the United Nations Office of Project Services for their partnership on civil society law reform in Iraq. We look forward to continuing to work with our local and international partners in preparing implementing regulations for the new law and providing implementation assistance and civil society capacity-building over the coming years.