Rapid Response Support

Asia & Pacific Program

It has been a tumultuous year for civil society across Asia, as many governments fast-tracked repressive agendas in the face of the pandemic. In Thailand, the government introduced a draconian nonprofit registration law following pro-democracy activism; in Myanmar, the military seized power and violently quelled protests; and in India, crackdowns on donations from abroad obstructed the pandemic response. These measures constrained civic space and, in some cases, had dire public health consequences.

Throughout the year, ICNL rapidly developed legal analyses to support civil society under pressure, including practical resources to navigate evolving environments.

map of Aisa in paint (photo credit: pixabay.com)

In Myanmar, we developed primers on civil disobedience and authoritarian edicts, raising awareness of the military’s obstruction of humanitarian and COVID relief efforts. In Thailand, we analyzed the potential impact of the proposed registration bill, elevating these concerns to the government. In India, we supported efforts to oppose burdensome foreign funding restrictions, which impeded the ability to receive desperately needed medical equipment.

ICNL also worked to connect local partners with international actors, foreign governments, and donors. In Myanmar, we helped our partners access emergency protection and provided ongoing legal updates. In Thailand, we submitted comments on the registration bill to the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which will increase pressure on the government to better adhere to international standards. Our analyses, and subsequent conversations between key stakeholders supported by ICNL, led to a deeper understanding among local partners of governments’ use of security measures against civil society and, more importantly, how to push back.

In the face of restrictive COVID measures and increased authoritarianism, our ability to respond rapidly with in-depth and actionable resources helps ensure our partners have the tools they need to navigate and reshape restrictive environments.

Tools for Civil Society Under Pressure

This story is from our 2020-2021 Annual Report. Each story in the report shows how our partners across the world help protect and, where possible, expand civic space.