Our research has helped develop the theoretical basis for our field and has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama, Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu, and other global civil society leaders.
We have worked with thousands of partners to successfully promote the passage of laws that strengthen civic freedoms, philanthropy, and public participation.
We work alongside our partners to navigate evolving legal environments for civil society, philanthropy, and public participation, around the world.
For 30 years, we have worked closely with partners in more than 100 countries to promote civic freedoms and improve the legal environment for civil society. Here are some of our proudest accomplishments:
ICNL partnered with human rights, civic space, and global health organizations to form an Emergency Powers Coalition and advocated successfully for a 2021 Human Rights Council resolution focused on the role of civil society in response to COVID-19.
ICNL and ECNL launched the COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker just over two weeks after the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affects civic freedoms and human rights.
ICNL launched the “Civic Space 2040” initiative that explores trends that will shape the future of civic space, including AI and other digital issues, climate change, migration, among others.
ICNL and its partners successfully persuaded the UN Human Rights Committee of the need for a General Comment on the freedom of assembly and association. ICNL and ECNL are now supporting the drafting process.
ICNL received the WINGS’ IMAGine Prize, which is awarded every three years to an organization that has provided exemplary service to the global philanthropy sector.
As a result of work by ICNL, ECNL, and other partners, the Financial Action Task Force fundamentally revised its approach to civil society, calling on governments to apply a proportionate, risk-based approach that avoids burdening legitimate activities.
ICNL convened a Global Forum that brought together members of civil society, government, and the international community to discuss the future of civic space. President Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon provided video welcomes, and the Forum led to over 40 new initiatives.
ICNL launched an initiative with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which led to the adoption of the first-ever guidelines supporting free association and assembly in the region.
ICNL presented remarks at a UN General Assembly side event moderated by President Obama on the closing space for civil society around the world.
ICNL received a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in recognition of its work to create an enabling environment for civil society worldwide.
ICNL helped to design and implement Lifeline the Embattled CSO Assistance Fund, which assists civil society organizations under threat or attack and is supported by nineteen governments and two foundations.
ICNL created the idea for a UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, and we worked with members of the UN Human Rights Council to bring this idea to fruition. Since then, we have worked with mandate-holders to develop international norms to protect civic space around the world.
ICNL co-authored Defending Civil Society, the first comprehensive report on civic space restrictions. It was endorsed by Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Vaclav Havel, and other civil society leaders.
Our Latest Impact Stories
January 1, 2023Keeping Guns Away from Protests
Firearms pose an urgent threat to the exercise of First Amendment rights of free expression and peaceful assembly in...
January 1, 2023Joining Together on Legal Reform
Until recently, Nigerian civil society organizations (CSOs) were grouped with casinos, real estate agents, and gemstone dealers as institutions...
January 1, 2023Safeguarding Assembly Rights Worldwide
Nearly every country's constitution recognizes the right to peaceful assembly. But since 2020, more than 150 governments have restricted...
January 1, 2023Advancing Women’s Rights from the Ground Up
Women civil society advocates have long struggled against gender-specific barriers to their work. This story explores how ICNL and...
January 1, 2023Strengthening Resilience Through Cooperation
In 2022, El Salvador proposed a restrictive new law that threatened to decimate civil society. The draft law would...
November 10, 2022FATF in the Middle East and North Africa
With support from the Ford Foundation, ICNL launched a project from February 2020 through October 2022 to address FATF...
For more stories and news about our work, visit our news page here.
One of two civil society organizations on the board of the UN Democracy Fund
Consultative status with ECOSOC
Serves on the board of InterAction and CIVICUS
From Our Partners & Supporters
“ICNL’s support ensured we were able to streamline the process of importing vital medical supplies and help the most affected communities during the peak of the pandemic.”
—Kanykei Sharapova, Lawyer for Elim Barsynby in Kyrgyzstan
“Thanks to support from ICNL, nonprofits were able to…engage in effective advocacy with regulators. We now have a more enabling environment for civil society to thrive.”
—Oyebisi B. Oluseyi, NNNGO president and ICNL Board Member