United States Program

ICNL seeks to create a legal environment that protects and strengthens nonprofits, activists, and philanthropy in the United States. We promote freedoms of association, assembly, and expression by analyzing trends in civic space, tracking state and federal laws affecting protest, and providing nonprofit organizations with information about legal compliance and risk management. The U.S. program also aims to reduce the negative impact on civil society of “foreign agent” legislation and counter-terrorism measures.

Be sure to browse our U.S. Protest Law TrackerCurrent Trends, and Highlights.

Highlights

Workers hold US flags at a labor rally in Iowa (photo credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr)
The Foreign Agents Registration Act Is Broken

The Foreign Agents Registration Act has become a central policy tool to respond to foreign interference in U.S. politics. However, stepping up enforcement of FARA before reforming the act is a recipe for disaster. FARA is overbroad and has been used to target U.S. activists and nonprofits. Find out more by reading our article in Foreign Policy entitled The Foreign Agents Registration Act is Broken.

Legislative Briefer: Critical Infrastructure Bills

The United States has seen a rise in demonstrations surrounding the construction of pipelines by those concerned about their harm to the environment, indigenous land, and landowner rights. In response, several states have proposed bills that proponents claim will protect critical infrastructure from trespass and vandalism. This legislative briefer focuses on how critical infrastructure bills can undermine protesters’ right to peaceful assembly by creating draconian penalties for trespass as well as severely penalizing vaguely defined interference with the construction or operation of critical infrastructure sites. Download the full briefer here.

People's Climate March in New York, 2014 (photo credit: Joe Brusky)
Challenges Facing Civil Society Organizations in the United States

The United States has a vibrant civil society, but it faces new threats and looming dangers. This short report explores how recent or proposed changes in laws and regulations in the United States may affect civil society organizations, including domestic organizations, international organizations working in the United States, and U.S. organizations working internationally. View the full report here.

ICNL 2011-2012 Annual Report Cover photo - Groups of people meeting in a court yard
FARA's Double Life Abroad

A common tactic of governments that want to constrain civil society is to enact legislation targeting groups that receive international funding. In this briefer, ICNL describes how the United States’ Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has been used to justify legislation restricting civil society in other countries. Download the full briefer here.

Key Resources

ICNL's U.S. Protest Law Tracker - landing page button

U.S. Protest Law Tracker

Started in 2017, the tracker compiles bills – proposed, enacted, or rejected – that could restrict the right to peaceful assembly around the United States.

ICNL's work on the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act

Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has been used to target nonprofits, activists, and others. Learn more about the impact on civil society of its broad and vague provisions.

ICNL's work on issues impacting Freedom of Assembly in the U.S.

Freedom of Assembly

The ability to protest is a cornerstone of U.S. democracy. Browse ICNL’s resources on current threats to the right of assembly in the United States, including legislative briefers, analyses, and reports.

ICNL's list of resources and information on compliance and risk management for U.S. nonprofits.

Compliance & Risk Management

This page provides resources for U.S. nonprofits seeking to comply with federal and state laws as well as learn more about risk management.

ICNL's Global Grantmaking Country Notes: A guide produced for the Council on Foundations for U.S. international grantmakers.

Global Grantmaking Country Notes

In partnership with the Council on Foundations, ICNL maintains reports on thirty-four countries to assist U.S grantmakers when they undertake equivalency determinations for foreign grantees.