The legal environment in Bangladesh is complex. Several acts govern the registration and operations of different types of civil society organizations. In some cases, the same organization can be registered under different laws and with several authorities. In an environment of increasing regulatory restrictions, civil society organizations that do not know their legal rights or fail to comply with existing legislation are extremely vulnerable.
In 2019, ICNL conducted a civil society needs assessment in Bangladesh. We received input from over 400 civil society organizations on the key legal and practical challenges they face. A big issue that came to light was the sector’s frustration stemming from limited legal awareness and understanding about their rights and obligations under the country’s complex legal framework.
To address this, ICNL partnered with Counterpart International Inc. (CPI) to develop a legal manual. The manual aims to help Bangladeshi civil society organizations carry out their missions more effectively by clearly laying out the laws and procedures governing registration, governance, funding, and other aspects of the organizational life-cycle.
Importantly, the manual was created through dialogue between civil society and the government. It was prepared with input and guidance from a technical review panel, consisting of experts from both sectors. Working together, they were able to build trust, strengthening their relationship, and laying the foundation for future collaboration.