THE LAW AFFECTING CIVIL SOCIETY IN ASIA: Developments and Challenges for Nonprofit and Civil Society Organizations

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

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The Paradox of Asia and the Scope of this Report
Asia presents a paradox. Many of the more than forty countries in this vast region aren home to vibrant civil society sectors, engaged in everything from social services to advocacy to mutual benefit activities and other pursuits that fall within the definitions of non-profit or charitable activity. Yet in many countries of Asia, government regulatory controls on civil society are restrictive or highly restrictive. Indeed, based on reports from countries as diverse as India, China, Thailand and Vietnam, among many others, the legal operating environment is becoming more restrictive, particularly for advocacy and other groups engaged in independent civil society activity.

This report is an overview of the regulatory environment affecting civil society and civil society organizations (CSOs)2 across Asia, focusing on a number of countries and key themes. These themes include: general constitutional and legal frameworks; types of organizational forms of CSOs; establishment requirements; registration and incorporation requirements; termination and dissolution procedures; state supervisory requirements; legal treatment of foreign organizations; and rules related to funding sources, including cross-border philanthropy and economic activities. While this report may make reference to any country in Asia, it focuses predominantly on Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (Central Asia); Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (South Asia); Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam
(Southeast Asia); China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia and South Korea (East Asia); and Fiji (Pacific).

This report is intended to identify key trends in the regulation of civil society and CSOs across Asia. As readers will note, it is not a detailed study of each country, and not all issues are covered for each country. For more detail, we invite readers to consult other


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