Draft Law for NGOs, 2008
Translation from Al Watan newspaper, 18/1/2008
At the end of last December, the Saudi Consultative Council approved regulations governing charitable societies and non-governmental organisations. Amongst the most prominent amendments made to the Government draft law by the Consultative Council is recognition by the Council of family foundations, provided these foundations are under the supervision of the National Commission for Charitable Societies and Non-Government Organisations. This will bestow a legal capacity upon family foundations which have spread in Saudi society in recent years. According to the new regulations, family foundations will become part of civic society organisations, according to the report prepared by the journalist Abdullah bin Fallah, and published in the Saudi newspaper Al Watan on Friday 18/1/2008.
A new chapter has also been added in its provisions about the National Commission for Charitable Societies and Non-Government Organisations regulating the work of the charitable societies and NGOs in order to ensure flexibility. Two Articles have been added, one concerning the budget of the Commission and the other with its tasks. This is in addition to another Article pertaining to the Board and Members of the Commission. A new Article was added designating the financial resources of the charitable society and the controls on receiving foreign aid via the Commission.
A new chapter was also added dealing with specific unions between charitable societies and NGOs. This will enable these societies and NGOs to establish specific unions, whereby civic society will regulate itself under the internal control of these unions.
Aims of the Regulations
• To regulate, develop and protect non-government work
• To participate in national development.
• To empower the citizen and encourage his participation in running and developing the community.
• To promote a culture of voluntary work amongst members of the community.
• To achieve social cohesion.
According to the provisions of these regulations, a society shall be deemed to be each group organised to last for a particular or non-particular period of time, made up of natural persons or body corporate, or of both, non-profitable, established to perform good deeds, or cohesion or carry out religious, social, cultural, health, educational, vocational, creative activities or provide humanitarian services, whether through financial or material aid or through technical expertise.
Article Three (New):
Charitable societies and NGOs shall be classified for the purposes of these regulations as follows:
One: Charitable Societies
According to the provisions of these regulations, a charitable society shall be deemed to be each group organised to last for a particular or non-particular period of time, made up of natural persons or body corporate, or of both, basically non-profitable, established to perform good deeds, or cohesion or to carry out religious, social, cultural, health, environmental, educational, scientific, vocational, creative, youth or human rights activities, protection of the consumer, provide humanitarian services or any similar non-governmental activity, whether through financial or material aid or through technical expertise or other, whether this activity is directed to public service, like public good organisations, or directed basically to serve specialists or an occupation like vocational, scientific or literary societies.
Two: Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
According to the provisions of these regulations, an NGO shall be deemed to be any entity established by a person/s, natural or body corporate or both, for a particular or non-particular period of time, is basically non-profitable, in order to achieve one or more public good or specialist purpose, and depends on monies allocated to it by the founder/s. Non-government foundations of all types shall be deemed NGOs.
An authority designated “The National Commission for Charitable Societies and Non-Governmental Organisations” shall be established in accordance with the provisions of these regulations. It shall be a body corporate with an independent budget. It shall be linked to the Prime Minister and shall be based in Riyadh. It may establish branches or offices in the regions of the Kingdom, as necessary.
Article Five (New):
The Commission shall have an independent annual budget which shall be prepared and issued in accordance with the arrangements pertaining to issuing the State Budget. Its financial year shall begin and end as per the State Budget. This budget shall include Government aid decreed for charitable societies. As an exception, the first financial year of the Commission shall begin effective the date of its establishment and end with the ending of the State financial year.