Decree on Associations

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Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Peace Independence Democracy Unity Prosperity

Prime Minister’s Office No. 115/PM
Vientiane, 29 April 2009

DECREE
ON ASSOCIATIONS

– Referring to the Constitution of Lao PDR dated 6 May 2003;
– Referring to Law 02/NA dated 6 May 2003 on the Government of Lao PDR;
– Referring to the letter of proposal Ref. No. 53/PACSA dated 11 April 2009 of the
Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Chairperson of the Public Administration
and Civil Service Authority,

The Prime Minister of Lao PDR issues the following decree:

PART I
General Provisions

Article 1 Objectives
This Decree sets the rules and regu lations governing the establishment,
operation and management of associations registered as legal entities in Lao PDR
for the purposes of:
1. Promoting the Lao people’s rights of freedom, creativity and ownership in the organization of associations aiming at national protection and development;
2. Providing references to individuals or organizations intending to set up their
associations;
3. Providing references to government organizations concerned in managing,
facilitating and encouraging lawful activities by associations, promoting
associations’ contributions towards so cio-economic development and poverty
eradication, as well as countering and restricting activities affecting national
stability, social order and in dividual rights of freedom.

Article 2 Definitions
• Association refers to a non-profit civil organization set up on a voluntary basis
and operating on a permanent basis to protect the rights and legitimate
interest of the association, its members or communities;

• Association registered as legal entity refers to an association established under
this Decree and operating permanently on the basis of its charter with a
registered office, stamp and bank account(s) in due compliance with the laws
and regulations;

• Un-incorporated association is an association established voluntarily by
individuals or organizations when conditions set out in paragraph two of this
Article are not fully met. The Government recognizes and promotes un-
incorporated associations under specific laws and regulations.

Article 3 Wordings
• Association , when used in this Decree, refers to associative federations,
federations, councils, clubs or bodies ho wever designated that are civil society
organizations with members;

• Non-profit seeking means properties and revenues are obtained from an
association’s activities after deduction of administrative costs and the balance
is not distributed but applied towards the objectives set out in the
association’s charter.

Article 4 Scope of Application
This Decree is applicable specifically to incorporated associations only and has
no effect on the following organizations:
– Lao Front for National Construction;
– Lao Federation of Trade Union;
– Lao National Federation of Veterans;
– Lao Women’s Union;
– Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth;
– Friendship associations with different countries;
– Religious organizations;
– Funds;
– Foundations.
The above organizations, un-incorporated organizations and associations of
foreign residents and aliens operating in Lao PDR will be subject to separate rules
and regulations.

Article 5 Principles in the Establis hment and Operation of Associations
Associations are set up and operate on the basis of the following principles:
1. Voluntary adherence or resignation from an association without constraints or
duress;
2. Permanent operation in accordance with the association’s charter;
3. Self-management and liability for the association’s activities before the law;
4. Financial self-sufficiency;
5. Non-profit seeking activities;
6. Transparency, openness, democracy and equality.

Article 6 Criteria
The incorporation of any association requires the following conditions are met
in full:
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1. Objectives consistent with the Constitution, laws and fine national, local and
ethnic traditions, non-threatening to national stability, social order and
individual right to freedom;
2. The association’s founder is a Lao citizen of minimum 18 years of age and in full possession of his mental capacity;
3. A mobilization committee composed of at least 3 persons appointed by the association’s founder, of which at least one must have professional
qualifications relevant to the association’s objectives;
4. The future association’s name must not be the same as other duly registered associations’ names in the same area;
5. The association’s incorporation is authorized by a government organization under this Decree;
6. The association has a charter, office and assets to ensure its set objectives are attained;
7. Voluntary enrollment of members as follows:
– Associations operating throughout the national territory require at least 25
members;
– Associations operating within a province or the capital require at least 15 members;
– Associations operating within a district , municipality or village require at
least 10 members.
Membership requirements for associations operating within specific regions,
sectors, professions or localities will be considered on a case by case basis.

PART II
Types and Levels of Associations

Article 7 Types of Associations
Associations in Lao PDR include:
1. Economic associations;
2. Professional, technical and creative associations;
3. Social welfare associations;
4. And others.

Article 8 Levels of Associations
Associations are classified into three levels:
1. Associations operating at the national level;
2. Associations operating at province or capital level;
3. Associations operating at district or municipality or village level.

Article 9 National Level Associations
National level associations are associations registered and operating throughout
the country or in parts covering several provinces and/or capital.

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Article 10 Province or Capital Level Associations
Province or capital level associations are associations registered and operating
within a specific province or the capital.

Article 11 District or Chief-Town or Village Level Associations
Associations operating within a district or chief-town or village are associations
registered and operating within a specific district or chief-town or village only.

PART III
Association Incorporating Regulations and Procedures

Article 12 Rules and Procedures in Applying for an Association’s Incorporation
Associations are incorporated under the following rules and procedures:
1. Upon appointment of the mobilization committee by the association’s founder,
the authoritative agency is to be notified as outlined in Article 50.1 and Article
50.3 of this Decree for consideration;
2. The mobilization committee is required to file proper and complete documentation as required under Article 13 of this Decree to the province
governor, capital mayor or President of the General Department of Public
Administration and Civil Service for approval subject to recommendations from
the relevant ministries or line authorities concerned;
3. Within 30 days from the receipt of the association’s incorporation documentation, the registration author ity shall issue a temporary license or
reject the incorporation;
4. Upon receiving a temporary license, the mobilization committee prepares and
carries out a statutory general assembly;
5. The mobilization committee is dissolv ed automatically as the association’s
general assembly elects its board;
6. The association will be automatically incorporated upon issuance by the
licensing agency indicated in Articles 50.1 and 50.3 of this Decree of a decision
adopting the association’s charter.

Article 13 Association License Application
The mobilization committee is required to file the following documentation in
full:
1. Association incorporation application;
2. Draft charter of the association;
3. Personal history, certificate of re sidence, police record, diplomas of the
mobilization committee’s members;
4. List of individuals or organizations enrolled voluntarily with the association;
5. Certification of the association’s office.

Article 14 Association’s Na me, Office, Logo and Stamp
1. Name
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The association’s name shall be in Lao, clear, understandable, void from
any impolite language and if required, may be translated into a foreign
language.
2. Office
The association’s office shall be set up in Lao PDR under lawful freehold or
leasehold title.
3. Logo
Associations are authorized to have their own logos.
4. Stamp
Associations have their own stamps authorized by the relevant government
organizations in the sizes and forms set out under relevant laws and
regulations.

Article 15 Charter
Mobilization committees elaborate their associations’ charter in line with the
Government’s policy guidelines and legislat ion. Upon approval by the association’s
general assembly, charters are submitted to the authoritative agencies. Charters
of associations outline the following principal matters:
1. Name of the association;
2. Office location;
3. Logo (if any);
4. Objectives, scope and field of the association’s activities;
5. Principles underlying the associat ion’s organization and activities;
6. Standards and criteria for each type of member;
7. Rights and obligations of each type of member;
8. Rules on membership and termination of membership;
9. Organs or officers entitled to grant or terminate membership;
10. Organizational structures of the association;
11. Mandates, rights, procedures on the el ection, appointment and dismissal of the
executive and control boards, secretary general and members;
12. Finance and assets of the association;
13. Merger, separation and dissolution rules and procedures;
14. Awards and disciplinary sanctions;
15. Charter improvement, amendment and addition rules and procedures;
16. Complaint and complaint resolution rules;
17. Effectiveness of the association’s charter.

Article 16 Statutory Assembly
Within 90 days from receiving the asso ciation’s license, the mobilization
committee shall prepare and organize an assembly to present the association’s
incorporation license, deliberate over the association’s charter, elect the
executive and control boards, approve the association’s work plan and resolution
of the statutory assembly.
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Within 30 days from the assembly’s closing date, the association’s executive
board is required to send a report on the assembly’s outcome, minutes of the
executive and control boards’ election, draf t charter of the association, work plan
and resolution of the statutory assembly to the authoritative agency indicated
under Articles 50.1 and 50.3 of this Decree for information and consideration.
Within 60 days from receiving the association’s “draft” charter, the
authoritative agency will examine and approve or disapprove the association’s
charter. In the event the charter may not be approved, the authoritative agency
shall provide clear and complete explanations in writing to the relevant
association.
Associations’ charters are formally in effect and force from the date the
authoritative agency issues a decision of approval.

PART IV
Location, Mandate, Rights, Duties, Obligations and Restrictions of Associations

Article 17 Location and Mandate
An association is a civil society organization which mandate is to build
solidarity and mutual assistance between members and extend assistance to the
society; protect the legitimate rights and interest of the association, its members
or the community; participate in nation al construction and development, and
poverty eradication.

Article 18 Rights and Duties of Associations
Associations have the following rights and duties:
1. Operate in line with the Government’s policies, laws and regulations, and their
charters;
2. Widely publicize their objectives;
3. Protect the legitimate rights and interest of their associations, members or communities;
4. Accept new members or dismiss members from their associations, train and
upgrade their members’ skills and knowledge;
5. Provide advice and recommendations, report and verify equity issues in their fields or sectors of activities in line with the laws and regulations;
6. Carry out economic activities under the laws an d regulations;
7. Cooperate with foreign parties and international organizations as approved by
the licensing agency and within the scope permitted by the laws and
regulations;
8. Exercise other rights and perform ot her duties set out in the associations’
charters and in the laws and regulations.

Article 19 Obligations of Associations
Associations have the obligation to:
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1. Remit duties, taxes, fees and charges in compliance with the relevant laws and
regulations;
2. File annual reports with the licensing agency and government organizations concerned on the status of their organization, activities, expenditures
and
budgets;
3. Strictly implement the State Audit Law and associations’ accounting and
finance management rules and regulations;
4. Perform other obligations as required under the laws and regulations.

Article 20 Restrictions
Associations are subject to the following restrictions:
1. They are forbidden to abuse rights of freedom in setting up associations or the
status of associations to act in cont ravention with the Constitution and laws.
2. Any acts threatening national stability, security and social order, other
persons’ rights of freedom and the fine national, local and ethnic traditions are
forbidden;
3. Undermining the national, collective and individual interest is forbidden;
4. Any acts conducive to the undermining of national, local and ethnic solidarity are forbidden.

PART V
Organizational Structures

Section 1
Staff

Article 21 Staff
Staff of associations includes:
– Executive Board;
– Supervision Board;
– Secretary General;
– And other officers stipulated in the associations’ charters.

Section 2
Mandate, Rights and Duties of the Board

Article 22 Mandate
An association’s executive board is an organ elected by the association’s
assembly and which mandate is to guide all activities and decide over the
association’s main affairs between 2 sessions of the general assembly.

Article 23 Rights and Duties
An association’s executive board has the right and duty to:
1. Examine and set necessary measures to execute the assembly’s resolution;
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2. Examine and approve the association’s annual work plan and budget and set enrolment and membership fees, and other revenues and expenses of the
association;
3. Consider and decide the organizational structures, appointments of the heads
and deputy heads of the association’s technical divisions;
4. Elect members of the permanent members of the Executive Board (if necessary) and the Supervision Board of the association;
5. Elect, appoint or dismiss the presid ent, vice-president, secretary general,
members of the permanent board (if any), approve the nomination of the
control board’s president, appoint or dismiss heads of the association’s organs;
6. Support and supervise activities of the permanent board and organs of the
association;
7. Exercise other rights and perform other obligations stipulated in the association’s charter.

Section 3
Mandate, Rights and Duties of the Supervision Board

Article 24 Mandate
The Control Board is an organ elected by the association’s assembly. Its role is
to assist the association’s executive board in controlling all activities carried out
by the association to ensure their com pliance with the association’s charter and
the laws and regulations.

Article 25 Rights and Duties
The Control Board’s main ri ghts and duties include:
1. Carrying out routine control and co ntrol in the event of breach to the
association’s charter or work procedures;
2. Controlling the elaboration and impleme ntation of resolutions of the assembly,
executive board and permanent board (if any);
3. Control the management and expenses of their associations;
4. Examine and settle complaints, petiti ons and requests from members within
the scope of their rights;
5. Execute other rights and perform other duties stipulated in the association’s
charter.

Section 4
Mandate, Rights and Duties of the Secretary General

Article 26 Mandate
An association’s secretary-general assists the president of the association’s
executive board and is elected by the executive board to administer, support
routine activities of the association an d organizations under the association’s
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management. Furthermore, the secretary-general is also in charge of specific areas
of activities assigned by the president of the executive board.

Article 27 Rights and Duties
The secretary general of an association is vested with the rights and duties to:
1. Prepare documents, agenda for meetings of the executive board or permanent board (if any);
2. Present views and proposals to the President, Vice President of the association’s Management Board on different issues;
3. Prepare the association’s monthly, qu arterly, semi-annual and annual reports
for presentation to the Board or re levant government organizations;
4. Build conducive conditions and facilities as may be necessary for the
performance of their activities by the association, board, President and Vice-
President of the board;
5. Contact and coordinate with other associations, party and government
organizations concerned on behalf of the association;
6. Execute other rights and perform other duties stipulated in the association’s
charter.

Article 28 Structures
The Secretary-General Office is a permanent support organ of the association
providing support to the executive board in the management and administration of
the association’s activities.

PART VI
Members of Associations

Article 29 Members of Associations
Members of associations include:
1. Ordinary members;
2. Supporters;
3. Honorary members.

Article 30 Ordinary Members
Ordinary members are organizations or Lao citizens that acknowledge the
associations’ charters, willingly enrol and fulfil all ordinary membership eligibility
criteria set out in the associations’ charters.
Ordinary members’ rights, obligations, admission or termination of membership
are governed by the associations’ charters.

Article 31 Supporters
Supporters are organizations or Lao individuals that acknowledge the
associations’ charters, willingly enrol, participate and contribute to associations
  9

but do not meet membership eligibility criteria in full under the associations’
charters or do not yet intend to enrol as ordinary members.
Supporters have similar rights and obligations as ordinary members but have no
rights to elect and be elected to posi tions within the executive board, Control
Council, Secretary-General and to vote on matters relating to associations.
Admission or dismissal of supporters is regulated by the associations’ charters.

Article 32 Honorary Members
Honorary members are representatives of organizations or Lao citizens of
recognized role, personality, social standi ng having previously contributed to the
associations’ activities and invited as honorary members of such associations.

Article 33 Advertising and Increased Membership
Each association’s advertising and increased enrolment must be notified in
writing to the accrediting agency and local administrative authorities.

PART VII
Meetings of Associations

Article 34 Meetings
An association holds the following meetings:
1. General Assembly;
2. Extraordinary General Assembly;
3. Executive Board Meeting.

Article 35 General Assembly
The General Assembly of an association is the association’s supreme organ that
is held in the form of general assembly of members or general assembly of
members’ representatives as may be stip ulated in the association’s charter.
Sessions of the general assembly are held as stipulated in the association’s
charter, but no later than within five year s from the previous session. In the event
a general assembly may not be held, the President of the Board is requir
ed to
provide the reasons in writing to the government organizations concerned.

Article 36 Extraordinary General Assembly
An association holds an extraordinary general assembly in the circumstances
stipulated in its charter or at the request from over half of its members or at least
two-thirds of the board members.
Rules and voting procedures at meetings are stipulated by the association’s
charter.

Article 37 Board Meetings
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The Board meets as prescribed by the association’s charter and in any case
once a year to review the previous year ’s activities and develop the following
year’s work plan.

Article 38 Notice and Report of General Assembly  
Prior to a general assembly, the Board is required to apply for the
authorization and notify in writing th e agenda and identity of the Board’s
Chairperson or Vice Chairperson to the ac crediting agency within 30 days prior to
the date proposed for the general assembly. Upon completion of the general
assembly, its outcome shall be reported to the licensing agency within no later
than 30 days.
 

PART VIII  
Merger, Separation, Dissolution of Associations and Organization of Union of
Associations 

Article 39 Merger and Separation of Associations
A merger between associations into a single association or separation of an
association into several associations sha ll be carried out consistently with such
associations’ charters on the basis of the consent of such associations and their
members, and with the licensing agency’s approval.

Article 40 Dissolution
An association will dissolve in any of the following circumstances:
1. Expiry of the operating term stipulated in its charter;
2. At the requirement of over half of its members;
3. Attainment of objectives stipulated in its charter;
4. Dissolution by decision of the government for failure to operate over a period of over 12 months, expiry of operating term without the association initiating
its dissolution or upon gross violation of the laws or the association’s charter.
A dissolved association’s duties and ri ghts lapse from the date the General
Department of Public Administration and Civil Service or province/capital
administrative authorities cancels the association’s license.

Article 41 Obligations of a Wi llingly Dissolving Association
The association’s executive board is required to prepare and forward the
following documents to the General Depart ment of Public Administration and Civil
Service (in the case of national associations) or to the province/capital
administrative authorities (in the case of province, capital, district and chief-town
associations):
1. Application for the association’s dissolution;
2. Resolution or minutes of meeting on the association’s dissolution;
3. Records of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures, and remaining treasury;
  11

4. Outstanding liability and remaining assets settlement plan.

Article 42 Organization of Federations of Associations
1. Associations formally incorporated and operating within the same area and
sectors of activities may establish a fede ration of associations on a voluntary
and consensual basis;
2. Membership or termination of membership in a federation of associations is based on each association’s will as stipulated in its charter;
3. Merger, separation and dissolution of federations of associations shall be as stipulated under Articles 39, 40 and 41 of this Decree.

Article 43 Opening of Representative Offices or Branches
Associations may open representative offices or branches subject to the
approval of local administrative authorities and organizations concerned.

PART IX
Finance and Assets of Associations

Section 1
Finance of Associations

Article 44 Associations’ Sources of Revenues
Revenues are obtained by associat ions from different sources:
1. Membership fees;
2. Donations by local and foreign individuals or entities in compliance with the
laws and regulations;
3. Income generated from their activities;
4. Other lawful sources of revenues.

Article 45 Management of Associations’ Revenues and Expenditures
Associations shall manage their revenue s and expenditures in compliance with
their charters and the relevant laws and regulations.
Gross overhead costs may not exceed 25% of the associations’ planned
expenditures.

Section 2
Assets of Associations

Article 46 Assets of Associations
Associations’ assets include buildings, land, vehicles, equipment and other
assets obtained through contributions by members, purchases, donations, grants
from individuals, organizations, local and foreign persons or the government.

Article 47 Management and Use of Associations’ Assets
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– The Government recognizes and protects associations’ lawful properties;
– The management and use of associations’ properties are regulated by their
charters and the relevant laws and regulations.

PART X
Development of Associations’ Role and Government Policy towards Associations

Article 48 Promotion and Develo pment of Associations’ Role
The Government promotes and develops associations’ roles as follows:
1. By guaranteeing the citizens’ right of fr eedom in setting up associations in line
with the laws and regulations;
2. By setting favourable conditions for as sociations’ activities and by protecting
the legitimate rights and interest of associations and their members;
3. By encouraging associations’ open and transparent activities and their
sustainable development;
4. By promoting the role of associations operating in the sectors of education, health, sciences and techniques, sports and environment;
5. By enacting laws and regulations as reference for associations’ activities and to promote their sustainable growth.

Article 49 Government Policy Towards Associations
The Government applies the followi ng policy towards associations:
1. Constantly increasing transfer of publi c services to associations with detailed
measures to encourage and promote associations in undertaking public
services, social aid and poverty reduction;
2. Authorization to receive donations in cash and in kind from local and foreign
individuals, entities and organizations in accordance with the laws and
regulations;
3. Tax reduction or exemption for associ ations in compliance with the relevant
laws and regulations;
4. Facilitation, recommendation and assistance through ministries, agencies, line
and local administrative authorities concerned to support associations’
efficient activities in line with the Government’s policies, guidelines and
legislation.

PART XI
Management and Control of Associations

Section 1
Management of Associations

Article 50 Associations Management Agencies
The Government centralizes associatio ns’ unified and countrywide management
through the following agencies:
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1. The General Department of Public Administration and Civil Service of the Prime
Minister’s office;
2. Ministries and line authorities concerned;
3. Province/capital administrative authorities.

Article 51 Rights and Duties of the Gene ral Department of Public Administration
and Civil Service of the Prime Minister’s Office
The General Department of Public Administration and Civil Service at the Prime
Minister’s Office is vested with the following rights and duties:
1. Draft and submit policies and laws on associations to higher authorities for
consideration and enactment in conjunction with agencies concerned;
2. Advertise, disseminate and advise on the implementation of policies, laws and
regulations relating to associations;
3. Examine and consider authorizing the incorporation, merger, separation or dissolution of associations indicated in Article 9 of this Decree;
4. Monitor, control, inspect the organi zation and activities of associations
indicated in Article 9 of this Decree;
5. Advise ministries, central equal ranking agencies and province and district administrative authorities on the management and control of associations’
activities;
6. Examine and resolve complaints, petition s and requests within the scope of its
rights.

Article 52 Rights and Duties of Ministries and Line Authorities
Ministries and line authorities are vested with the following rights and duties:
1. Examine and provide opinions on proposed incorporation, merger, separation and dissolution of associations relating to fields and sectors of activities under
their preview;
2. Advertise, disseminate and advise associations on the implementation of policies, laws and regulations relating to their activities;
3. Advise, facilitate, monitor and supervise the alignment of associations’
activities with their activities and role;
4. Propose accrediting agencies or the Government to award associations with prominent achievements in contribution to development and social assistance
in sectors under their preview.

Article 53 Rights and Duties of Provin ce/Capital Administrative Authorities
Province/capital administrative authorities are vested with the following rights
and duties:
1. Examine and approve the incorporation, merger, separation or dissolution of associations indicated in Articles 10 and 11 of this Decree;
2. Advertise, disseminate and advise on the implementation of policies, laws and
regulations on associations;
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3. Advise, facilitate, monitor and supervise associations’ efficient and proper activities in line with their objectives and role;
4. Review, examine and resolve complaints, petitions and requests with the scope of their rights;
5. Award or propose the competent govern ment agencies to award associations
with prominent achievements in contri buting to development and social
assistance in their jurisdictions.

Article 54 Coordination
1. The General Department of Public Admi nistration and Civil Service coordinates
with ministries and line authorities concerned prior to authorizing the
incorporation, merger, separation and dissolution of associations indicated in
Article 9 of this Decree;
2. Ministries and line agencies concerne d report the activities of associations
operating in their territories and sectors to the General Department of Public
Administration and Civil Service;
3. Province/capital administrative author ities coordinate with the line agencies
concerned at the province level prior to authorizing the incorporation, merger,
separation and dissolution of associations indicated in Articles 10 and 11 of this
Decree;
4. Departments concerned report the activi ties of associations operating in their
sectors to the local administrative authorities.

Section 2
Control of Associations

Article 55 Associations Control Agencies
Agencies entitled to cont rol associations include:
1. Associations managing agencies indicated in Article 50 of this Decree;
2. Audit agencies;
3. State audit agency.

Article 56 Control of Associations
Associations control agencies have the duty to control the organization and
activities of associations within the scop e of their respective rights as follows:
1. Scrutinize the personal histories of associations’ founders, mobilization
committee and board chairperson;
2. Examine objectives stipulated in associations’ charters;
3. Review annual reports on associations’ organization and activities;
4. Review associations’ annual financial reports;
5. Examine violations to associations’ charters and the legislation.

PART XII
Awards and Penalties
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Article 57 Awards
Associations or members with prominent achievements in sustaining their
associations’ beneficial actions and merit and the nation will be awarded under
various forms as stipulated by the associations’ charters and the Government’s
policies

Article 58 Penalties
Associations or members breaching this Decree or other laws and regulations
relating to associations will be warned, ed ucated, subject to disciplinary measures,
fines or legal action according to nature of their acts.

PART XIII
Final Provisions

Article 59 Implementing Arrangements
Ministries, central agencies, local admi nistrative authorities and local civil
society organizations shall acknowledge and strictly abide by this Decree.
The General Department of Public Administration and Civil Service at the Prime
Minister’s Office is in charge of the implementation and issuance of detailed
recommendations in furtherance of this Decree.

Article 60 Effectiveness
This Decree enters into effect within one hundred and eighty days from the
date it is signed in view of providing ministries, central agencies, local
administrative authorities and associations time for preparation of implementing
conditions. Any decisions and rules inconsistent with this Decree are superseded.
Associations incorporated and operating prior to this Decree’s date of
effectiveness shall file complete documentations as required under Article 13 of
this Decree with the accrediting agencies as stipulated under Articles 50.1 and
50.3 of this Decree to apply for their re-incorporation within ninety days from this
Decree’s date of effectiveness.

Prime Minister of Lao PDR
Bouasone Bouphavan
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