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The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 3, Issue 2, December 2000

A publication of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

Table of Contents

Letter from the Editor

Articles

Church and State Relationships in German "Public Benefit" Law
By Dr. Christine R. Barker

Evaluating Tax Incentives for Donations to Public Benefit Organizations
By Paul Bater

Freedom of Association: Recent Developments Regarding the "Neglected Right"
By Leon E. Irish and Karla Simon

The Government of Israel's Control of NGOs: Legal Dilemmas and Structural Constraints
By Nitza Nachmias and Amiram Bogot

Reviews

Introduction to the Non-Profit Sector in the Balkans
By Jenny Hyatt
Reviewed by Douglas Rutzen

The Third Force
By Ann M. Florini
Reviewed by Karla Simon

Weak Democracy and Civil Society
By Imco Brouwer
Reviewed by Sam Charron

Case Notes

Central and Eastern Europe:
Poland

Latin America and the Caribbean:
Venezuela

Middle East and North Africa:
Egypt | Tunisia

North America:
the United States

Newly Independent States:
Moldova
| Russia

Country Reports

Asia Pacific:
Regional
| Australia | the Philippines

Central and Eastern Europe:
Hungary

Latin America and the Caribbean:
Regional | Dominican Republic | Guatemala | Peru

Middle East and North Africa:
Bahrain | Israel | Palestine | Yemen

Newly Independent States:
Kazakhstan | Ukraine

North America:
the United States

South Asia:
India | Pakistan

Sub-Saharan Africa:
Ghana | South Africa

Western Europe:
Belgium | France | Germany | Ireland

International Grantmaking

Conducting Overseas Site Visits
By Victoria B. Bjorklund and Jennifer I. Goldberg  

- - - - - - - - - -

Editorial Board

The Third Force

By Ann M. Florini
Reviewed by Karla Simon 

In this interesting book Ann Florini, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and director of its Transparency and Transnational Civil Society Project, has collected a series of essays on various transnational civil society networks and their activities. Contributors to the volume include Frederick Galtung (writing about Transparency International); Rebecca Johnson (writing about the organizations working on the Test Ban Treaty); Sanjeev Khagram (writing about the organizations working against “big dams”); Chetan Kumar (writing about campaigns for democracy, with particular focus on the Zapatistas); Motoko Mekata (writing about the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines); Thomas Risse (writing about the development of human rights norms); and Yahya Dehqanzada (who prepared the annotated bibliography).

For those working on issues that affect the development of civil society around the world this is an intriguing book and one that merits attention. In the several case studies it discusses the ways in which networks working across national boundaries have had tremendous impact on a variety of issues that have local, national, and international significance. One thing that is clear from the book, of course, is that such networks must have a select and limited purpose in order to be effective (e.g., helping the Zapatistas gain recognition within Mexico, creating local lobbies against land mines or “big dams,” creating norms for governance and human rights that are adopted by local governments.) It is also clear that the changes affected by the transnational networks are changes affected at the national level. Thus, anyone reading the book will come away with the clear impression that “transnational” civil society is the correct term to apply to these movements (i.e., it is not correct to speak of a “global” civil society movement.)

It is certain that the development of the transnational networks would not be effective without the increase in access to technology that permits quick and easy information sharing. Ms. Florini makes note of that in her concluding essay. As she suggests, the tremendous power of the transnational networks has also been fueled by access to funds to support them (face-to-face meetings are necessary to hammer out both positions and strategies). In addition, most effective networks have had some direct access (not just through street demonstrations and media reports) to the intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) that make some of the important decisions.

One issue that needs to be addressed if transnational networks are to continue to be effective in making important changes in governance (locally and internationally) is that they must attain and retain credibility with the IGOs that make the decisions that are then effectuated in national reforms. While Ms. Florini cites specific instances that have led IGOs to distance themselves from various transnational civil society networks, the book is filled with well-elaborated examples of effective encounters between such networks and the IGOs. Tactics are, of course, relevant, and some organizations choose advocacy while others choose activism (Rebecca Johnson’s excellent essay points this out quiet clearly). Deciding which tactics are more likely to achieve appropriate reform is obviously not a decision taken lightly, and there is room for both styles.

The relevance of this book to better legal frameworks for civil society organizations can be found in Ms. Florini’s concluding essay. There she notes that the growth of civil society does not automatically follow from democratization. As Mokoto Mekata’s account of the Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines shows, the lack of a hospitable legal environment can cripple domestic civil society, restricting its participation in transnational networks. In many regions, governments are beginning to make it easier for civil society organizations to form and act. The most striking change has appeared in countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern and Central Europe…. But governments in other parts of the world have also begun to change their attitudes toward, and their laws governing, civil society. Japan, for example, passed a law in 1998 easing what had been onerous financial requirements for the registration of NGOs.

That said, the book unfortunately does not discuss the growing transnational network for such reforms of the legal enabling environment. For example, Thomas Risse’s essay on the development of international human rights norms, neglects the current standard-setting exercises with respect to the freedom of association.

The projects to create international standards for national legislation that will protect and encourage the growth of domestic civil society, have been sponsored by the World Bank, CIVICUS, and the Open Society Institute. Developing such norms is a long-term effort and involves the creation and sharing of many tools that can be used by NGOs and local governments when they approach the law reform process in their own countries. Similarly, as with the transnational human rights movements that focus on torture, gender rights, rights of indigenous peoples, and other issues, it is important to create powerful networks of knowledgeable lawyers and NGO leaders to support and sustain the writing of legislation that is consistent with international good practices. Although creating a vibrant domestic civil society is not entirely linked to the creation of a protective legal environment within which organized civil society can exist, good laws are a necessary – but not sufficient -- condition for the long-term survival of domestic civil society and hence of transnational civil society networks.

 

Copyright © 2012 The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)
ISSN: 1556-5157