UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Issues Statement on NGO Restrictions

25 April 2012

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed deep concern about recent moves in a number of countries, including Egypt, Algeria, Ethiopia, Belarus, Israel and Venezuela, to curtail the freedom of non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors to operate independently and effectively.

"Freedom of association is the lifeblood of NGOs," she said. "Systemic legal or administrative attempts to curtail their activities can be very damaging." Pillay also expressed alarm at recent or ongoing attempts in a number of countries to tighten control over civil society and she noted that many countries are restricting the sources of NGO funding, and in particular foreign funding on which many NGOs rely. Pillay also pointed out that freedom of association is enshrined in a number of international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 20) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 22), which is a binding treaty that has been ratified by 167 states, including all those mentioned above.


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Commissioner Pillay's comments