Mongolia

Last updated: 17 March 2021

Update

Public protests took place in Ulaanbaatar in early January 2021. Although the protests were unsanctioned and all forms of public gatherings were prohibited by the Law on Emergency and other Covid-19 prevention regulations, the government and police did not interrupt the protests. Following the protests, Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa and his cabinet resigned.

New drafts of the Law on Foundations, Law on Associations and Law on Public Benefit Activities are currently being developed by the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs of (MOJHA). New draft laws on privacy and the right to information are also in development, including a draft amendment to the Law on Information Transparency and Right to Information, a draft Law on Public Information, and a draft Law on Personal Data Protection.

The State Great Khural (Parliament) began discussions of the draft Law on the Legal Status of Human Rights Defenders, but has not yet approved the bill.

Introduction

Among Asian countries, Mongolia is considered to have relatively robust civic freedoms. The country has a generally enabling legal environment for civil society and civil society organizations (CSOs), including for freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and other civic rights.

As the Mongolian legal system follows civil law practice, the legal framework for civic freedoms is mainly based on the Civil Code and Law on NGOs, which are supported by other laws and policies. Recent amendments to the Civil Code and other related regulations, as well as the introduction of new laws addressing emerging issues, have changed the state of affairs for the not-for-profit sector in Mongolia. The Law on NGOs, however, remains unmodified. The conflict between these old and new laws has created confusion within the regulatory regime for NGOs, particularly with respect to laws regarding the classification and types of not-for-profit legal entities. Meanwhile, the number and diversity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Mongolia has expanded, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive, integrated policy to safeguard the sector.

The rapidly developing nature of civil society in Mongolia calls for the strengthening of NGO capacity in terms of self-governance, sectoral accountability, and financial and other resources, and the safeguarding of an enabling environment for civil society against restrictive regulations.

Organizational Forms
NGOs (associations included)
Foundations
Registration Body
General Authority for State Registration (for domestic organizations)
Mongolian Immigration Agency (for international organizations)
General Authority for State Registration (for domestic organizations)
Mongolian Immigration Agency (for international organizations)
Approximate Number
The General Authority for State Registration reports that as of December 2019, 22,074 NGOs are registered. However, the National Statistical Office reports that only 48.5% of them actively operating as of 2017. 89 international NGOs are registered in Mongolia.As of December 2019, 1598 foundations are registered.
Barriers to Entry
No legal barriers.No legal barriers.
Barriers to Operations/Activities
There are no universal barriers to activities, although specific restrictions do exist for NGOs operating in particular sectors.There are no universal barriers to activities, although specific restrictions do exist for NGOs operating in particular sectors.
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy
Anti-defamation regulations in Criminal Code, laws against distributing false information in election and disaster protection laws, among others. The Globe International Center recorded 182 violations of free expression in Mongolia in 2017.Anti-defamation regulations in Criminal Code, laws against distributing false information in election and disaster protection laws, among others. The Globe International Center recorded 182 violations of free expression in Mongolia in 2017.
Barriers to International Contact
No legal barriers.No legal barriers.
Barriers to Resources
No legal barriers.No legal barriers.
Barriers to Assembly
Only citizens of Mongolia, NGOs, and Political Parties with active registration can organize assemblies. Mongolia’s laws impose heavy responsibilities for organizers and participators. Assemblies and demonstrations are subject to approval by local governor’s office. Demonstrations are restricted near or at certain government buildings.Only citizens of Mongolia, NGOs, and Political Parties with active registration can organize assemblies. Mongolia’s laws impose heavy responsibilities for organizers and participators. Assemblies and demonstrations are subject to approval by local governor’s office. Demonstrations are restricted near or at certain government buildings.
Population
3,296,866 (November 2020 est.)
Capital
Ulaanbaatar
Type of Government
Semi-presidential republic
Life Expectancy at Birth
Total population: 70.41 years (Male: 66.36; Female: 75.96)
Literacy Rate
Total population: 98.4% (Male: 98.2%; Female: 98.6%)
Religious Groups
Buddhist 53%, Muslim 3%, Shamanist 2.9%, Christian 2.2%, other 0.4%, none 38.6% (2010 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Khalkh 84.5%, Kazak 3.9%, Dorvod 2.4%, Bayad 1.7%, Buryat-Bouriates 1.3%, Zakhchin 1%, other 5.2% (2015 est.)
GDP per capita
$13,700 (2018)

Source: CIA World Factbook

Ranking Body
Rank
Ranking Scale
(best – worst)
UN Human Development Index
.735 (2021)1 – 0
World Bank Rule of Law Index
45.67 (2019)100 – 0
World Bank Voice & Accountability Index
59.11 (2019)100 – 0
Transparency International
111 (2020)1 – 180
Freedom House: Freedom in the World
Status: Free
Overall Rating: 84
Political Rights: 36
Civil Liberties: 48 (2020)
Free/Partly Free/Not Free
100 – 1
40 – 1
60 – 1
Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index
5129 (2020)178 – 1

International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements
Ratification*
Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
Yes1968
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)
Yes2012
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
Yes1974
Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR)
Yes2010
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
Yes1969
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
Yes1981
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
Yes2000
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Yes1990
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)
No
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Yes2009
Regional Treaties
Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA)Yes2013 (not full membership)

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

The Constitution of Mongolia was approved on January 13, 1992, and amended in 1999, 2000, 2019, and on May 25, 2020 when the latest amendment (Mongolian) entered into force. The constitutional provisions concerning civic freedom and rights are included in the 1992 text and have not been changed by subsequent amendments.

The preamble of the Constitution upholds the “cherishing [of] human rights and freedoms” and aspires towards “the supreme objective of building a humane, civil and democratic society in the country.”

Key constitutional provisions concerning civic freedom are found in Chapter Two: Human rights and Freedoms, which guarantees to the citizens of Mongolia the following:

  • Article 16 [Citizen’s rights] (10): “The right to freedom of association in political parties or other voluntary organizations on the basis of social and personal interests and opinion. Political parties and other mass organizations shall uphold public order and state security, and abide by law. Discrimination and persecution of a person for joining a political party or other associations or for being their member are prohibited. Party membership of some categories of state employees may be suspended.”
  • Article 16 [Citizen’s rights] (12): “The right to submit a petition or a complaint to State bodies and officials. The State bodies and officials are obliged to respond to the petitions or complaints of citizens in conformity with the law.”
  • Article 16 [Citizen’s rights] (16): “Freedom of thought, opinion, expression, speech, press, and peaceful assembly. Procedures for organizing demonstrations and other assemblies are determined by law.”
  • Article 16 [Citizen’s rights] (17): “The right to seek and receive information except that which the state and its bodies are legally bound to protect as secret. In order to protect human rights, dignity, and reputation of persons and to ensure national defense, security, and public order, the information which is not subject to disclosure must be classified and protected by law.”
  • Article 19 [Responsibility, Restrictions] (1): “The State is responsible to the citizens for the creation of economic, social, legal, and other guarantees ensuring human rights and freedoms, for the prevention of violations of human rights and freedoms, and restoration of infringed rights.”

Constitutional provisions related to the restriction of human rights include:

  • Article 19 [Responsibility, Restrictions] (2): “In case of a state of emergency or war, the human rights and freedoms as defined by the Constitution and other laws are subject to limitation only by a law. Such a law may not affect the right to life, the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as well as the right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman and cruel treatment.”
  • Article 19 [Responsibility, Restrictions] (3): “In exercising one’s rights and freedoms, one may not infringe the national security or rights and freedoms of others or violate public order.”

National Laws and Regulations Affecting the Sector

The legal framework for CSOs includes the:

Some public not-for-profit entities are governed under separate laws, such as the Law on the Relationship between State and Religious Institutions, the Law on the Legal Status of the Mongolian Red Cross Society, the Law on the Legal Status of Lawyers, the Law on National Chamber of Commerce, and the Law on Physical Culture and Sports, among others. They are not included here as they typically regulate only their specific subject organizations, such as the Mongolian Red Cross Society, Mongolian Bar Association, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sports associations, and homeowners’ associations – but not the civil society sector in general.

The legal framework for core civic freedoms includes:

Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives

The following legislation concerning civic freedom and civil society is currently pending.

The following laws are pending at the parliamentary level:

A prior draft Law on Not-for-Profit Legal Entities and the Law on Professional Associations were widely criticized by CSOs and other stakeholders for being restrictive and limiting the independence of the civil society sector. In December 2019, a coalition of NGOs and civic activists filed a petition to the Speaker of the State Great Khural to withdraw the proposed legislation from parliamentary discussion. The Government of Mongolia recalled the draft law from the parliament and is currently drafting new association laws.

The following legal initiatives are in development:

  • A State Policy on Civil Society Development and Government Cooperation is being drafted by a voluntary working group of civil society actors. The first initiative to develop a state policy for civil society development was undertaken in 2012, with the support of the Prime Minister. However, the initiative was abandoned following the 2012 elections. It was restarted in 2019 by CSOs and is supported by some Members of Parliament.
  • A Law on Foundations, a Law on Associations, and a Law on Public Benefit Activities are being drafted by a working group led by MOJHA. These new drafts are being developed on the basis of the previous draft Law on Not-for-Profit Legal Entities, as part of an effort to address civil society resistance to the previous draft law.
  • The Law on Public Information and the Law on Protection of Personal Information have been drafted by MOJHA and are now displayed for public discussion on the MOJHA website.
  • Amendments to the Law on Press Freedom are being drafted by a working group established by the Ministry of Justice.

Lastly, CSOs collectively conducted a comprehensive study on civil society and its enabling environment. The report is expected to be ready in April 2021. Based on the results, CSOs will provide recommendations on upcoming laws and the State Policy on Civil Society Development and Government Cooperation.

The above list is not exhaustive. If you are aware of other pending legislative initiatives not included here, please contact asia@icnl.org.

Organizational Forms

Eligible organizational forms for CSOs are regulated by several laws, resulting in conflicts and confusion concerning typology.

  • All legal entities are regulated under the Civil Code. The Civil Code distinguishes two general types of organization – for profit and not-for-profit legal entities. CSOs fall under the not-for-profit legal entity regulation of the Civil Code. Not-for-profit legal entities can be established as foundations, associations, or cooperatives.
  • In addition to the Civil Code, there is a specific law governing CSOs, entitled the Law on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), enacted in 1997. The Law on NGOs distinguishes between two types of NGOs – a public benefit NGO (which aims to organize activities with public beneficiaries and is not merely member-oriented) and a member-based/mutual benefit NGO. These categories and forms of organizations are different from the respective not-for-profit legal entities indicated in the Civil Code. In 2002, a new chapter on foundations was added to the Law on NGOs. However, it still includes nothing about associations.
  • The Law on State Registration of Legal Entitieswas amended in 2019. This Law lists ten different types of legal entities that are eligible for registration, including many more entities than those defined by the Civil Code and the Law on NGOs, such as religious organizations. The confusion around different types of legal entities falling under different laws has complicated the system of NGO regulation, with the General Authority for State Registration registering legal entities that are not actually provided for by the Civil Code or the Law on State Registration of Legal Entities, such as education or media organizations.

The General Authority for State Registration is responsible for registering not-for-profit legal entities founded and established by Mongolian citizens and legal entities. The Mongolian Immigration Agency is responsible for registering branches of international and foreign not-for-profit legal entities under the Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Nationals.

Approximate Number

As of December 2019, 22,074 NGOs and 1,598 foundations were registered at the General Authority for State Registration.

Besides NGOs and foundations, 1,453 trade unions, 543 religious organizations, 1,062 media organizations, 585 education and training organizations, and 2 academic organizations are registered separately as not-for-profits (i.e. they are not included in the 22,074 NGO number mentioned above). In addition, 89 international NGOs are registered and operating in Mongolia, according to the Mongolian Immigration Agency.

Public Benefit Status

There is no special status for CSOs under legislation currently in force. The classification of the ‘public benefit’ and ‘mutual benefit’ nature of NGOs (Article 4 of Law on NGOs) has not translated to a particular special status or regulation, Rather, it is merely a classification of NGOs based on the target audience of their activities. According to Article 4 of the Law on NGOs:

  • “public benefit non-governmental organization” means a nongovernmental organization that operates for the public benefit in the fields of culture, art, education, science, health, sport, nature and environment, community development, human rights, protection of the interests of specific subsets of the population, charity and other such fields;

“mutual benefit non-governmental organization” means a nongovernmental organization other than a public benefit non-governmental organization that operates primarily to serve the legitimate interests of its members.

Barriers to Entry

Article 481 of the Civil Code regulates the formation and operation of unregistered groups as follows:

Article 481. Unregistered union and partnership

481.1. No registration is needed for unions and partnerships formed by several parties based on a joint action contract, and the participants shall decide their structure and management by mutual agreement.

481.2. Unregistered unions and partnerships shall participate in the civil legal relationships through appointed representative or one of the members.

This article permits the formation of unregistered “unions and partnerships” based on a joint action contract, and does not further attempt to regulate their activities. The Law on NGOs does not address the establishment and operation of unregistered groups. Although there are no formal restrictions on the activities of an unregistered organization, in practice unregistered groups commonly face barriers and restrictions. This is mainly due to legal uncertainty around the regulation, rights, and responsibilities of unregistered groups.

The right to establish an NGO is open to anyone in Mongolia. According to the Law on NGOs:

Article 5. The rights of individuals to establish and participate in nongovernmental organizations

  1. Citizens of Mongolia and legal persons except State bodies shall have the right to establish, individually or collectively, non-governmental organizations on the basis of their interests and opinions without the permission of any State body. …
  2. Foreign citizens and stateless persons legitimately residing in Mongolia may establish or join non-governmental organizations in accordance with the procedure specified in this law if other laws and international treaties of Mongolia do not provide otherwise.

In addition, according to the Law on NGOs, an NGO shall be considered established after the founders have issued a decision to establish the NGO and approved the NGO’s charter. However, the NGO exercises its rights as a legal entity only after it is registered in the State registry.

To establish an NGO, the following criteria must be met:

  • The Charter of an NGO must include the:

1) NGO’s name and address;

2) date of creation;

3) statement of purpose;

4) organizational structure and monitoring procedures;

5) powers of the Governing Board;

6) maximum and minimum numbers of members of the Governing Board;

7) terms of powers and procedures for selection and removal of members of the Governing Board;

8) minimum number of meetings of the Governing Board per annum;

9) quorum necessary to hold a meeting of the Governing Board;

10) procedure for decision-making at meetings of the Governing Board;

11) terms and procedures for restructuring and dissolution of the nongovernmental organization and liquidation of its assets; and

12) grounds and procedures regarding the amendments to the nongovernmental organization charter.

In order to be incorporated, an NGO should have a governing body. Non-membership NGOs require governing boards, with a minimum of five members.

According to the Law on State Registration of Legal Entities, the following documents are required for registration:

  • Confirmation of the legal entity’s name;
  • Application using the approved template;
  • Decision of establishment in accordance with the law;
  • Organization charter;
  • If necessary, an attorney letter, primarily if the legal entity requires representation during the registration process;
  • Receipt for payment of the state registration fee – currently 44000 MNTs (approximately $15.5 USD);
  • Proof of incorporated assets, if any;
  • Proof of the legal entity’s address. (Article 16)

The State Registry must inform the applicant of its decision within two working days upon receipt of the application. In case of refusal of registry, the justification for the refusal should be included in the written notice.

Barriers to Operational Activity

Activities

The Law on NGOs does not impose constraints on the activities for NGOs, nor does it pose any burdens on the operations of an NGO. Rather, the Law only prohibits an NGO from conducting activities inconsistent with its mission, which is generally understood as changing its mission or operating for profit. Such a prohibition is consistent with good regulatory practice.

Restrictions on NGO activities and operations may, however, stem from different laws. For example, the Law on Procedures for Demonstrations and Assembly prohibits NGOs from organizing public demonstrations under certain circumstances. The Law on Culture also fines cultural organizations (which can be both for-profit or not-for-profit) up to 200,000 MNT (70 USD) for organizing activities without being registered, or for activities that promote war or violence. Such vague restrictions exist in multiple laws, including counter-terrorism laws, and may impact the operations of NGOs in various cases.

Reporting

According to Article 12 of the Law on NGOs, NGOs must submit their financial report to the tax authority in compliance with the General Tax Law, the Legal Entity Income Tax Law, the Law on VAT, and the Law on Accounting. NGOs are also required to submit their activity report to the Ministry of Justice. Reporting to members, funders and the public is regulated by relevant contractual or other arrangements made by the NGO.

Government Intervention

Article 9 of the Law on NGOs states that NGOs shall be independent from the State. Government agencies may provide financial and other support to an NGO. NGOs can be engaged in the development of laws, national development policies or programs, and other policy decisions and their implementation, on a voluntary basis.

Dissolution

According to Article 7 of the Law on NGOs, an NGO can be dissolved if it has fully achieved the mission stated in its charter. The decision to dissolve an NGO shall be issued by its governing body. Upon dissolution of an NGO, any remaining assets after the settlement of debts shall be transferred to another NGO with the same or similar purpose, or, if no such NGO exists, to public benefit activities consistent with the stated purpose of the NGO. The voluntary dissolution process is governed by Article 32 of the Civil Code, which calls for the NGO’s governing body to establish a committee on dissolution to decide how to transfer the remaining assets to other NGOs with a similar purpose, or to activities consistent with those of the NGO.

The governing body of the NGO shall publicly announce its decision of dissolution and notify the Ministry of Justice in writing within 21 days. Based on that decision, the NGO shall be removed from the state registry.

There are also regulations on compulsory or involuntary dissolution of an NGO. Article 8 of the Law on NGOs states the following:

  1. The Court shall compulsory [sic] dissolve a non-governmental organization on the following grounds:

1) the non-governmental organization has conducted activities inconsistent with its mission;

2) the non-governmental organization has conducted activities of a severe nature and has repeatedly violated laws.

Barriers to Speech and Advocacy

Article 16 [Citizen’s rights] of the Constitution of Mongolia protects “Freedom of thought, opinion, expression, speech, press, and peaceful assembly.”

One of the laws governing freedom of expression is the Media Freedom Law, enacted in 1998. The Media Freedom Law declares that, in order to ensure freedom of the press, any laws restricting freedom of the media are not allowed (Article 2). Article 3 of the law prohibits any state censorship of the content of public information. Moreover, it prohibits the government from establishing or financing any organization or subsidiary to regulate and monitor the publication and dissemination of information by media outlets. Finally, Article 4 of the Media Freedom Law prohibits government organizations from owning or possessing their own media outlets (i.e. state media).

Several other laws also regulate aspects of free expression and press freedom. The most significant of these include:

  • Article 21 of the Civil Code “Protection of citizen’s name, honor, reputation and business reputation.” This article states that anyone who defames a citizen’s name, honor, dignity and reputation must prove the accuracy of that information. In case of failure to do so, the publisher must refute the defamation. The article also protects confidential personal information of individuals, and prohibits the unauthorized use of a person’s image.
  • Criminal Code by an amendment passed 10 January 2020.Article 13.14 of the Mongolian Criminal Code criminalizes defamation and the distribution of false information that insults a person’s honor or reputation, punishable by fines, restrictions on work and travel, and jail time. Article 14.3 of the Code, amended in 2017, establishes criminal sanctions for those who use force or threats to prevent legitimate acts of freedom of expression and freedom of press.
  • Article 6.21 of the Law on Violations (approved in 2017) on Defamation. This wasused as the legal basis for 98 million Mongolian tugrugs worth of fines imposed on 49 media houses (according to the Globe International Center). However, the Law was repealed by the Criminal Code amendment of 10 January 2020.

Globe International Center has recorded a total of 182 cases of violations affecting the rights of 140 journalists in Mongolia as a result of restrictions on free expression. More than 30 percent of free expression violators are politicians, high authorities, public officials and public bodies. In 2017, the Mongolian courts heard a total of 12 civil and no criminal defamation cases.

Other legal acts implicate the freedom of expression. For example, regulations on how to monitor and restrict “false information” on digital platforms are included in the Law on Elections, the Law on Disaster Protection, and the Law on Preventing and Combatting the Coronavirus Contagion Pandemic (COVID-19) and Mitigating Negative Social and Economic Impacts.

Barriers to International Contact

There are no legal regulations that prohibit or restrict CSOs from cooperating with international or foreign CSOs, public and private sector organizations, or international institutions.

Barriers to Resources

Foreign Funding

The Law on NGOs does not provide special restrictions or rules for domestic CSOs to receive foreign funding. The Law on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing also does not restrict the receipt of foreign funding.

However, the draft Law on Not-for-profit Legal Entities (as proposed by the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs – please see “Pending Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives” above) has proposed prohibiting CSOs from receiving funding or contacting individuals and legal entities that are on the blacklist of the UN Security Council. The draft Law also proposes restricting funding from foreign intelligence organizations and their ‘puppet’ organizations; individuals and organizations who organize activities that endanger national security, or who engage in money laundering or financing of terrorist and extremist activities; and from unknown sources (Article 6 and Article 14).

Domestic Funding

According to Article 19 of the Law on NGOs, income sources of NGOs may include the following:

1) membership fees and contributions;

2) contributions by citizens, business entities and organizations;

3) income generated by mission-related economic activities;

4) borrowed or inherited funds, and funds allocated from the State budget for project implementation.

CSOs are accordingly permitted to conduct economic activities directly, without any permissions required. However, there are no specific regulations on how and to what extent these economic activities can be undertaken.

In practice, CSO funding is one of the greatest challenges facing the sector. In a presentation on the draft Law on Not-for-profit Legal Entities in 2019, the Ministry of Justice stated that 67.7% of all NGO funding comes from international sources. According to the Ministry, other financial sources are as follows: 3.9% from membership fees; 21.4% from an in-kind donation; and 7% from other sources.

 

According to a “Baseline Survey of Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Mongolia” conducted in 2016, the average amount of funding raised in a year by an NGO is 36 million MNT (12,500 USD). 28.2% of NGOs also receive funds from the Government on the basis of tender awards and contracts. In other words, the main sources of funding for small or local NGOs come primarily from the Government. Commercial activities (trainings, consultancies, etc…) are the main source of income for only 12% of NGOs. In addition, NGOs that participated in the baseline survey noted that they do not have enough capacity to raise funds.

Barriers to Assembly

Legal Basis

Article 16 [Citizen’s rights] of the Constitution of Mongolia on “Freedom of thought, opinion, expression, speech, press, and peaceful assembly” states that procedures for organizing demonstrations and other assemblies are determined by law. Accordingly, the Parliament of Mongolia passed the Law on Procedures for Demonstrations and Assembly in 1994, which has since been amended 5 times. In addition to this law, there are specific regulations on the rights and responsibilities of the police force with respect to assembly in the Law on Police.

The Law on Procedures for Demonstrations and Assembly defines assembly as an activity organized by citizens of Mongolia with the purpose of expressing their views, opinions and demands to the public on issues related to politics, society, economy, human rights and freedoms. Demonstration is defined as an organized procession of citizens through the streets and squares of a city, expressing their views, opinions, and demands on the issues specified (Article 3).

Applicable Procedures and Requirements

According to the Law on Procedures for Demonstrations and Assembly, only citizens of Mongolia, political parties, and NGOs that are registered in the state registry can organize demonstrations and public assemblies (Article 3).

In order to organize public demonstrations or assemblies, political parties and NGOs must officially appoint an individual organizer who should be responsible for any outcome of the event. (Article 11) An organizer has a clear set of responsibilities under the law, as follows:

  • to ensure public order and safety of citizens at demonstrations and gatherings;
  • not to cause damage to public utilities, lawns, crops and other people’s property in cities and settlements, and to clean streets and squares after demonstrations and rallies;
  • to warn participants not to carry weapons, toxic and explosive substances, or anything that may endanger the environment and human life and health, and to notify the relevant authorities immediately if such cases occur;
  • to warn the participants not to use any force during the demonstration or assembly, not to divulge secrets protected by the law of the state, organization or individual, not to insult the honor and dignity of others, and to immediately suspend or contact them if this provision is violated;
  • not to allow persons who have consumed alcohol, drugs or toxic substances or are mentally ill to participate in demonstrations and rallies, and not to consume alcohol during demonstrations and rallies;
  • to warn participants not to block streets and roads during demonstrations and rallies, to disrupt the normal operation of any organization, or to take part in their internal affairs;
  • not to extort money, intimidate, or otherwise coerce others to participate in demonstrations or rallies;
  • not to build temporary shelters or allow vehicles during demonstrations and rallies in Sukhbaatar Square.

If the organizer violates any of these provisions, he or she shall be held liable.

In terms of process, according to Article 3, organizers of public demonstrations should register their demonstration with the corresponding local authority. Their statement shall include the objective of the demonstration, the start and finish time, the approximate number of participants, the equipment to be used, and the location and route of the demonstration. The local governor should communicate whether the demonstration is registered or not within 3 working days of receiving the notification. If the governor has not responded in three working days, the organizers have the right to organize the demonstration at the stated place and time.

According to Article 10, the governor can refuse to register a demonstration for the following reasons:

  • If the request to organize a demonstration is made by an unregistered, disincorporated political party or NGO, or by political parties and NGOs whose operations are suspended by the court or other authorized organizations;
  • If a demonstration is planned to take place in forbidden territories;
  • If a demonstration is intended for a prohibited purpose as stated in Article 8 of the law (see below).

Organizers can appeal to the court if they disagree with the refusal of the governor.

Legal Barriers to Freedom of Assembly

The Law on Procedures for Demonstrations and Assembly contains some additional restrictions to demonstrations and assembly based on place, objective, and type.

According to Article 7, the following places are restricted for a demonstration or an assembly:

  • Airports and train stations;
  • Places under state protection or under the protection of military and police;
  • Radio and TV broadcasting stations and communication stations in provinces and the capital;
  • Places where international exhibitions are held, or marketplaces in urban areas;
  • Medical facilities;
  • The area of Sukhbaatar Square comprising the grounds of the Government House.

According to Article 8, demonstrations for the following objectives are forbidden:

  • Propaganda of war, incitement to ethnic divisions or discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, language, race, age, sex, social origin, status, religion, murder, assassination, sabotage, illegal incitement to seize state power;
  • To create disorder and damage national security and public order.

Demonstrations which started with legal objectives and forms but evolved to have the above-mentioned objectives are restricted from continuing further.

Moreover, if the country or a certain region is under a state of emergency or war, or affected by disaster, demonstrations and assembly are prohibited until the normal situation is restored.

It is also prohibited to organize counter-demonstrations at the same place and time as an approved demonstration.

The intentional organization of hunger strikes at public places is forbidden as hunger strikes are considered an inhumane act against a person’s health and life.

From a practical perspective, the registration of a demonstration with the local governor appears to be one of the key bottlenecks for the freedom of assembly in Mongolia. As the governor is a political official, there have been instances when the governor has refused to register a demonstration due to reasons not stated in the law. Moreover, public demonstrations are often aimed to protest against policies, decisions, and activities of the government or certain government agencies. However, the buildings of such organizations and their premises are under state or police protection. It is prohibited to organize demonstrations in such places.

Policing / Enforcement

According to Article 12 of the Law on Police, the police department is responsible for maintaining public order during demonstrations and protecting the participants of demonstrations and assembly from assault. However, the police are also responsible for disbanding demonstrations and assemblies if:

  • The demonstration or assembly is organized without registration;
  • The demonstration is registered but the place of the demonstration or assembly has changed and is taking place in prohibited areas;
  • The demonstration or assembly is organized by the restricted organizations stated in Article 10 (e.g. suspended political parties, NGOs, etc.);
  • The demonstration has an illegitimate purpose, or the organizers and participants have failed to fulfill their responsibilities. (Article 14)

Article 44 of the Law on Police provides for the forced dispersal of demonstrations and rallies. A demonstration and an assembly shall be dispersed by force if participants refuse to obey the governor’s decision to disband the demonstration or assembly. When dispersing the demonstration or assembly, the police department can employ enforcement measures stated in the Law on Police. Also, the law requires the dispersal process to be documented by audio-visual recording and photographs.

When maintaining public order and safety during the demonstrations, the police department sometimes set up special perimeters or fences, or provides traffic markers and even checks the alcohol consumption of the participants, as in the public demonstration against corruption scandals of the Speaker of Parliament organized on 10 January 2019.

There have been many cases where public demonstrations and assembly were dispersed by police for being unregistered, or for disrupting the normal operation of government organizations. Hunger strikes have also been broken up.

Barriers to Assembly

Public participation is subject to extensive legal regulation in Mongolia. The “Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Mongolia” Project concludes that 105 out of 459 active laws (as of 4 February 2016) partially regulate civic participation.

Besides the right to information and transparency-related legislations, the following are key legal regulations ensuring public participation:

Different public participation regulations are included in different sectoral regulations, around public councils and working groups, public discussions, public monitoring, and public information and awareness. Regarding the participation of NGOs in public affairs, Article 9(5) of the Law on NGOs provides that NGOs may be involved in drafting and implementing the decisions to be taken by legislative and executive authorities.

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

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General News

Mongolian prime minister submits resignation after COVID-19 protests (January 2021)
Mongolia’s Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa submitted his resignation after protests in the capital Ulaanbaatar over the government’s handling of COVID-19. Khurelsukh said in his resignation statement that he should “assume the responsibility upon himself and accept the demand of the public.” His resignation needs to be approved by parliament. The protests erupted over what some Mongolians saw as the inhumane treatment of a COVID-19 patient and her newborn baby and and also triggered the dismissal of senior health officials and the resignations of Mongolia’s deputy prime minister and health minister.

Proposed Legislation to Restrict Civil Society in Mongolia (November 2019)
In a move that mimics recent acts by Russia, Poland and Hungary, the Mongolian government is preparing to debate proposed legislation that will allow government oversight of non-government organisations (NGOs). The legislation requires the creation of a Civil Society Development Council, which will grant the government extensive powers over NGO operation. The Council will also require NGOs to submit annual reports that detail their funding, in an effort to reduce ‘money-laundering’ and ‘terrorist financing’.

The foregoing information was collected by ICNL’s CFM partner in Mongolia.