Asia and the Pacific Program

Myanmar PhotoICNL works throughout Asia to empower local partners in addressing civic space issues. Through a 2017 report - The Law Affecting Civil Society in Asia, ICNL notes that “the dominant trend in Asia is clear: government regulatory controls on civil society are becoming increasingly restrictive, particularly for advocacy and other groups engaged in independent civil society activity.” Much of ICNL’s work is therefore focused on helping partners defend civic space more effectively. At the same time, enabling progress is possible, as demonstrated by achievements in countries from Afghanistan to Myanmar to Sri Lanka.

In Afghanistan, ICNL has provided technical assistance in drafting the Law on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), which was enacted in 2005, and in drafting the Law on Associations, enacted in 2013. ICNL continues to empower local partners who are leading efforts to prepare enabling improvements to the legal framework, including amendments to the Law on NGOs; a new law on foundations; a regulation on volunteerism; and amendments to the tax code, which would provide donor incentives in Afghanistan for the first time. In addition, ICNL seeks to improve the implementation of law by training government regulators and educating civil society representatives on their rights and obligations under the legal framework. ICNL’s work has helped amplify the voice of civil society in policymaking in Afghanistan. ICNL is committed to preventing trafficking in persons in Afghanistan. Our plan is here.

In Bangladesh, ICNL conducted an assessment of the legal framework for civil society in 2012. Noting the challenges relating to restrictions on funding of civil society organizations, ICNL convened a regional workshop in July 2013 for local partners from seven countries in South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In addition, ICNL has provided periodic assistance to local partners in relation to the draft Foreign Donations (Regulation) Act.

In Cambodia, ICNL provided support to local and international partners on the legal framework for associations and NGOs, through written analyses and comparative information. Currently, ICNL is working with local partners to establish a monitoring framework for the 2015 Law on Associations and NGOs; to provide assistance on the draft Trade Union Law; and to raise awareness of international norms relating to cybercrime laws and the freedom of expression. Read ICNL's analysis of the draft Trade Union Law here: English Khmer

In China, ICNL has provided technical assistance on the legal framework for nonprofits, foundations, and charities; served as a resource to Chinese agencies, academic institutions and foreign donors on key issues of philanthropic and nonprofit law and policy; supported research on China's complex and changing legal and policy framework for the nonprofit and philanthropic sector; and assisted on the policy framework for disaster response, among other issues.

In Indonesia, ICNL is supporting research relating to the impact of recent Constitutional Court decisions relating to the 2013 Law on Societal Organizations on the exercise of the freedoms of association and expression.

In Laos, ICNL provided technical assistance in the preparation of the Decree on Associations, which established, for the first time, a legal basis for the existence of registered associations in the country.

In Myanmar, (photo on right), ICNL provided assistance to local civil society partners and parliamentarians in improving the draft Association Registration Law, which was enacted in 2014. Currently, ICNL is working with local partners to support the professional implementation of the newly enacted Law.

In Mongolia, ICNL affiliate the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) is providing assistance to civil society leaders and the government as they work together on a comprehensive package of reforms affecting the legislation on NGOs, public benefit status, and contracting out government tasks to non-state actors.

In Nepal, ICNL provided support to local partners to hold a series of consultation meetings with civil society groups on the freedom of association and legal reform priorities.

In Pakistan, ICNL provided support to local partners to respond to various legal threats that have arisen in recent months. ICNL’s small grant support has enabled local partners to convene consultation meetings with civil society groups, parliamentarians and government officials, and thereby enhance dialogue between the sectors.

In Sri Lanka, ICNL plans to contribute a roundtable on civil society legal issues, which will help local partners plan upcoming reform priorities.

In Vietnam, ICNL has provided technical assistance and comparative perspectives on the legal framework for nonprofits, foundations, and charities and supported research on Vietnam's changing nonprofit legal framework and policy. Currently, ICNL is providing assistance on the draft Law on Associations.

To learn more about our programs in Asia and the Pacific or to request assistance, please contact David Moore - Vice President, Legal Affairs, at


Online Library

Access our complete collection of resources by visiting ICNL's Online Library.

Civic Freedom Monitor

Scene from Bulbul and Civil SocietyICNL produces country profile reports that provide an overview of key issues relating to the freedom of association and the NGO legal framework, with a focus on legal barriers affecting civil society. View Civic Freedom Monitor reports for Afghanistan, ASEAN, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.

United States International Grantmaking Country Reports

ICNL prepares reports describing the legal framework for civil society organizations to assist grantmakers and their advisors. USIG reports are available for Afghanistan, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Research Fellowships

With the support of the Swedish Agency for International Development (Sida) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), ICNL has hosted civil society reformers from Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, and Bangladesh.  Recent fellowship papers from Cambodia and Nepal were published in the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law.


Assessment of the Legal Environment for Civil Soceity and Media in Nepal

The Law Affecting Civil Society in Asia: This report is an overview of the regulatory environment affecting civil society and civil society organizations across Asia, focusing on a number of countries and key themes.

ICNL Legal Analysis of Cambodia’s draft Trade Union Law

ICNL Comments on the Policy for regulation of International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs) in Pakistan