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.


Inter-american juridical committee; photo credit creative commons
IAJC Principles on Creation, Operation, Financing, and Dissolution of Civil Society Organizations

The 102nd regular session of the Inter-American Juridical Committee, held in Rio de Janeiro, saw the adoption of a Declaration of Inter-American Principles on the Legal Framework for the Creation, Operation, Financing, and Dissolution of Non-profit Civil Entities, which was championed by Commissioner Ramiro Orias and ICNL. These twelve principles of general application bring together in a single document previously dispersed Inter-American and global standards relevant to the proper regulation of the lifecycle of CSOs in the Americas. Read the IAJC Principles here.

CT Workshop in Colombia

ICNL facilitated a regional consultation conference along with UN Special Rapporteur Finnoula Ni Aoilain, to determine how CSOs in Latin America and the Caribbean should continue to urge the United Nations to take specific action to address detrimental effects of UN counterterrorism activities on civil society.  Read the report here.

A woman displaying crafts in Jamaica (Photo Credit: Mary Sauers)
Central America Subregional Network

The “Enhanced Cross Border and National Civil Society Collaboration to Address Civic Space Threats in Central America” project seeks to enhance local CSOs’ knowledge about evolving legal threats and trends affecting civic space. Participants from across Central America collaborate to identify successful advocacy and resiliency approaches to overcome shared legal challenges across the region. ICNL has facilitated an ongoing dialogue among partners from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, leading to the creation of a subregional CSO network that has successfully identified good and bad regional practices regarding the implementation of Financial Action Task Force’s Recommendation 8 implementation and organized workshops to navigate shared and anticipated challenges, among others.

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.

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