Latin America & the Caribbean Program

ICNL works with local partners throughout Latin American and the Caribbean to promote a legal environment that strengthens civil society, advances freedom of association, fosters philanthropy, and enables public participation. With our partners we provide technical assistance and support leaders of civil society organizations, government officials, legislators, academics, and others as they develop enabling reforms that meet local needs.

Be sure to browse our Focus Areas, Key Resources, and Country Overviews.


A small pile of coins with a seedling growing out of it (Photo: Gratuit/Creative Commons)
Terrorism Financing Risk in Nonprofit Organizations in Latin America

Governments worldwide use the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations to justify excessive restrictions on the nonprofit sector. However, FATF guidelines, specifically Recommendation 8, which addresses nonprofit organizations’ regulation, have been reformed. Unfortunately, many nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in Latin America lack awareness of the favorable standards. To address this, ICNL has published this Spanish-language report: Mapping on Terrorism Financing Risk in Nonprofit Organizations in GAFILAT Member Countries: An NPO Sector Regional Report. The report, developed in partnership with experts from 17 Latin American countries and the Global NPO Coalition on FATF, presents an in-depth analysis of survey findings and recommends reforms that can be implemented through collaboration among key stakeholders. Read an overview and download the full report here.

Peruvian NGOs and APCI officials met to discuss improvements needed to the registration process” Lima, Peru. July, 2018. (Credit: Asociacion Nacional de Centros - ANC)
Eliminating Restrictions on Civil Society Organizations in Peru

In 2015, Peru issued a new administrative rule on the renewal of CSOs’registrations. However, the lack of clear, standardized criteria in the new rule resulted in long delays and impeded many organizations’work. ICNL helped local partners engage in discussions with the government that ultimately led to the elimination of the renewal requirement and streamlined measures for CSO oversight and registration. Read more about Peru here.

Photo credit: Nick Youngson & ImageCreator
Protecting Access to Banking for Civil Society Organizations

Bank de-risking can lead to debilitating delays in or even denials of financial services to CSOs. These barriers are usually based on an unfounded belief that the sector is at high risk of financing terrorism. ICNL and ECNL have joined with the Human Security Collective and Global Nonprofit Coalition on the Financial Action Task Force to host workshops and high-level dialogues and produce publications that raise awareness of the negative effects of bank de-risking on CSOs. Read ECNL’s report on the issue here.

A woman displaying crafts in Jamaica (Photo Credit: Mary Sauers)
Building a Legal Environment for Social Enterprises in Jamaica

ICNL’s 2018 report examinesthe complex legal environment for civil society organizations and social enterprises in Jamaica. Based on legal analysis and stakeholder interviews, the report continues to help inform multi-sectoral dialogues on how to build a legal environment that the enables emerging social enterprise and nonprofit sectors to thrive. Read the full report here.

Focus Areas

Indigenous leaders in Ecuador’s Amazon region assess the laws regulating their organizations against international standards for freedom of association. (Photo credit: ICNL)

Technical Assistance

We provide legal commentary that is grounded in international and comparative law. Our goal is to help our partners develop technically sound foundations for debating and improving legal provisions affecting civil society.

Stakeholders from civil society, government, and academia discuss the reform of social entrepreneurship laws in Jamaica using ICNL-generated resources. (Photo credit: ICNL)

Creating Knowledge

Our staff and global network of experts produce cutting-edge research on issues shaping civil society across the region. Our knowledge base equips our partners with the information they need to engage in policy discussions on complex issues.

ICNL facilitates multi-sector dialogue on potential reforms to the legal framework for social enterprise in Jamaica. (Photo: ICNL)

Cross-Sector Dialogue

We facilitate discussions between civil society and governments informed by international legal standards and model practices from around the world. Our aim is to foster non-partisan, respectful, solutions-oriented dialogue among diverse stakeholders.

After gathering data on regulatory barriers to freedom of assembly affecting more than 100 gay pride marches in Brazil, Welton Trindade (second from left) concluded that “the study supported by ICNL shows that the solutions are right here in Brazil.” (Photo credit: ICNL)

Strengthening Local Partners

ICNL provides fellowships and sub-grants to individuals, organizations, and academic institutions for a diverse array of activities. Funded projects include the development of draft laws, research, and instructional programs that respond to local issues.

At a high-level event on the margins of the November 2018 G20 Summit, the Executive Secretary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) explains that governments must collaborate with nonprofits to study and mitigate barriers to financial services for the sector. (Credit: ICNL)

Enhancing International Norms

For civil society to thrive, shared acceptance of progressive international norms is key. ICNL seeks to elaborate and enhance understanding of these norms while supporting their proper implementation in local contexts.

Key Resources

Civil Society & FATF Toolkit

This toolkit provides a comprehensive overview of how state obligations under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws and standards and procedures recommended by the Financial Action Task Force  can impact civil society organizations. Available in Spanish and English.

Global Grantmaking Country Notes

In partnership with the Council on Foundations, ICNL maintains reports on thirty-four countries to help U.S grantmakers undertake equivalency determinations for foreign grantees. The reports include Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

Digital Legal Library

ICNL’s Spanish-language resources include the texts of laws and regulations from twenty-five Latin American and Caribbean countries, along with analyses of their provisions.

Explore our full resource collection, which includes reports, legal analysis, and curated collections of materials covering an array of issues impacting civic space around the world.

Country Overviews