Creating Knowledge

To inform policy discussions and support advocacy efforts, ICNL undertakes cutting-edge research on laws and trends affecting civic space, philanthropy, and related issues at country and regional levels. ICNL also collaborates with local partners to produce context-specific research and knowledge products. Local partners from civil society, government, academia, and the development community use ICNL resources to assess laws and their implementation and develop practical approaches to addressing key issues facing civil society.

Graduate students and civil society practitioners attending the ICNL-Centre for Human Rights-organized advanced human rights course on Civil Society Law in South Africa, July 2017 (Photo: Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)
Graduate students and civil society practitioners attending the ICNL-Centre for Human Rights-organized advanced human rights course on Civil Society Law in South Africa, July 2017 (Photo: Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)

Highlights

The Impact of the Closing of Civic Space on HIV Response in East Africa

Civil society organizations have helped propel the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, their activities could slow down or stop altogether if the space for CSOs advocacy is tightened or closed. In this 2018 report, ICNL presents in-depth research and analysis on the ways in which the closing of civic space is affecting HIV responses in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.

Media Laws in Tanzania

Together with our partners, ICNL developed a handbook to help media practitioners, human rights defenders, and civil society organizations respond to increased restrictions on media and civic space in Tanzania. The handbook builds understanding of the legal and policy framework affecting the daily work of media and other organizations and proposes strategies for navigating restrictions.

Fellowships

ICNL’s Africa program provides talented research fellows with opportunities, space, and resources to undertake cutting-edge research and deepen their knowledge of areas of particular interest. ICNL’s fellowship alumni are strong and lasting partners, who are able to provide the leadership, knowledge, and skills needed to address key issues facing civil society in their home countries.

Ethiopia Guide on CSO Proclamation

This Guide aims to support civil society organizations in Ethiopia and other interested stakeholders to understand and navigate the new Organizations of Civil Societies Proclamation No. 1113/2019. The Guide outlines major processes and obligations under the Proclamation, and identifies key areas requiring further advocacy to bring the Proclamation in line with international best practices on the protection of the freedom of association.

Tanzania Guide on Miscellaneous Amendments Act

This Guide aims to help Tanzanian civil society organizations understand and comply with new obligations laid out under the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 3) Act, 2019, which modifies three key laws governing the non-profit sector: the Non-Governmental Organizations Act, the Societies Act, and the Companies Act.

Zimbabwe Guide on Maintenance of Peace and Order Act

ICNL’s Africa program provides talented research fellows with opportunities, space, and resources to undertake cutting-edge research and deepen their knowledge of areas of particular interest. ICNL’s fellowship alumni are strong and lasting partners, who are able to provide the leadership, knowledge, and skills needed to address key issues facing civil society in their home countries.

Rwanda Good Practices for NGO Regulation and Checklist for NGO Regulators

Guide on Good Practices for NGO Regulation

The Guide on Good Practices for NGO Regulation outlines key principles relating to the regulation of NGOs, their source in law, and some examples of good practices. NGOs can use this guide when engaging government regulators, other authorities, and their own constituencies to advocate for improved, enabling regulatory practices for the sector.

Compliance Checklist for NGO Regulators

ICNL and local partner CCOAIB developed a Compliance Checklist that aims to help legal drafters, NGO regulators and members of Parliament assess compliance of laws with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa (the Guidelines). The checklist highlights key issues from the Guidelines that can help the user to confirm the provisions within the law that meet the standards laid out in the Guidelines, identify the provisions that may not fully protect the rights to the freedom of association, and provides suggested action to bring the law, policy, or practice in line with international and regional standards governing the right to the freedom of association. The handbook will contribute to NGO regulators being better equipped to implement the current NGO law in a manner that will protect and promote the freedom of association in accordance with international human rights standards.

Responses to COVID-19

African Government Responses to COVID-19

This page provides information on African government responses to the coronavirus, using information from the ICNL-ECNL COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker.

Checklist on COVID-19 and Human Rights

A Checklist to assess whether Covid-19 legal measures comply with international legal guidance (the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Human Rights Based Effective Response to Covid-19 in Africa and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association’s Ten Key Principles to ensure measures respect human rights to association and peaceful assembly).

International Legal Framework Governing Public Health Emergencies

A Briefer on the international legal framework governing public health emergencies. It covers existing international human rights treaties that set out the parameters for protecting fundamental rights in times of emergency to assist states in ensuring a rights-respecting response.

Open Government Partnership, Civic Space, and COVID-19

This Briefer outlines the Open Government Partnership system and explores how an open government approach can help protect civic space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenya’s COVID-19 Measures and their Impact on Civic Space

This overview outlines measures introduced by the Kenyan government to address the coronavirus pandemic, noting instances where a measure has restricted or may restrict civic space.

Malawi’s COVID-19 Measures and their Impact on Civic Space

This overview outlines measures introduced by the Malawian government to address the coronavirus pandemic, noting instances where a measure has restricted or may restrict civic space.

Partner Research and Knowledge Products

Legal and Human Rights Centre in Tanzania

In Tanzania, ICNL supports the Legal and Human Rights Centre to develop and disseminate various knowledge products and policy briefs analyzing domestic law impacting on access to information, freedom of expression, association and assembly rights. The briefers promote public awareness and facilitate advocacy for an enabling legal environment for CSOs at the national and lower levels.

Zambia FATF research

With ICNL’s support, the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) undertook research assessing the impact of the AML/CFT and FATF processes on the legal and policy framework regulating civil society in Zambia, which has enabled targeted advocacy with government through stakeholder dialogues that brought together key actors in the sector and government institutions to address legal obstacles arising from the implementation of FATF recommendations.

Special Interest Groups and Covid-19 Survey

With support from ICNL, the Mzalendo Trust in Kenya undertook a rapid survey on the impact of Covid-19 on public participation of special interest groups (SIGs) in legislative processes, with local partners. The survey focused on women, youth and people with disabilities. It examined the level of involvement of the SIGs in the decision-making processes in the County Government of Kisumu during the Covid-19 pandemic; the effectiveness of the participation of the SIGs in decision-making processes; and challenges faced by both the SIGs and supporting entities in securing their effective participation and adopted measures to address the identified challenges impeding effective participation of the SIGs. Mzalendo convened three virtual forums to discuss the outcomes of the survey and obtain further input from the SIGs on challenges and recommendations.

Human Rights Institute of South Africa use ACHPR Guidelines

ICNL’s Africa team supports regional network partners to use the ACHPR Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa (the Guidelines), which ICNL helped to develop, to advance civic freedoms. In Southern Africa partners, led by the Human Rights Institute of South Africa, used the Guidelines to develop tools to standardize monitoring and reporting on the state of association and assembly rights in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The Vice Chairperson of the ACHPR publicly launched the tools (available in English, French and Portuguese) in a virtual event on the sidelines of the SADC Summit on August 18. The tool will assist researchers to collect data and report on freedom of association and assembly developments in an evidence-based and standardized manner. Pilot research is currently underway in DRC, Lesotho, Malawi and South Africa.