Strengthening Local Partners

ICNL values the expertise of our partners in Sub-Saharan Africa and seeks to support locally driven initiatives. Over the years, we have been privileged to collaborate on many shared concerns with civil society leaders, volunteers, government officials, lawyers, media workers, academics, and other stakeholders across the African continent.

Workshop participants discussing the closing space for civil society and media in East Africa. (Photo Credit: ICNL)
Workshop participants discussing the closing space for civil society and media in East Africa. (Photo credit: ICNL)


Technical Assistance

We often prepare commentary on draft and enacted legislation affecting the legal environment for civil society in Africa. Our assistance promotes national laws that are in line with international standards and fosters civil society organizations’ advocacy and litigation efforts. We strengthen local capacity by supporting research fellows, grantees, and university partners as they undertake research and build contextually relevant academic and practical instructional programs. Our partners produce assessments of laws, proposals for legal reform, and plain-language guidebooks to help CSOs respond to high-priority issues in their countries.

Legal Education Initiative

ICNL is committed to helping the next generation of lawyers and civil society practitioners build knowledge about civil society law and pursue careers in the nonprofit sector. We work with universities and other academic institutions to develop curricula, facilitate short courses on civil society law, and build partnerships in new regions and at new institutions. Our initiatives increase the participation of young lawyers and practitioners in efforts to strengthen civic space and improve the sustainability of civil society organizations.

Training Initiatives

ICNL supports a wide assortment of training initiatives. We work with government officials to strengthen their capacity to implement framework laws in ways that enable civil society. We work with civil society organizations and media to increase their understanding of relevant laws and build their skills at protecting fundamental freedoms. Our programs encourage civil society and media advocates to work together in their home countries and across borders to resist laws, policies, and practices that threaten to restrict civic space.


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.

Small Grants Fund

Each year, ICNL provides small grants to support innovative, locally designed and led projects that advance fundamental freedoms. Funded projects promote research to deepen understanding of important trends, challenges, and opportunities; support advocacy on key issues; encourage public outreach through innovative uses of media; or foster collaboration between civil society and government actors.