Call for Papers - Quo Vadis Global Civil Society? New Constraints on Internationally-funded NGOs

Quo Vadis Global Civil Society? New Constraints on Internationally-funded NGOs

In recent years an increasing number of countries have been introducing specific obligations for internationally-funded NGOs. Russia, China, India, Egypt, Israel, Hungary, Cambodia and Ethiopia have all introduced such measures, with varying degrees of restrictiveness. In several jurisdictions International NGOs (INGOs) are now required to be designated as ‘foreign agents’. Other countries like Australia are now considering further measures, ostensibly to prevent foreign funders influencing electoral outcomes (but actually aimed at climate action INGOs) (i). Concerns about such obligations have been voiced at the United Nations for some time: in 2013 the Human Rights Council called on states to ensure ‘that no law should criminalize or delegitimize activities in defence of human rights on account of the origin of funding...’ (vi). Since then, numerous international organisations have raised concerns at the growing impacts on ‘civic space’, including the World Economic Forum (ii), Civicus (iii), Human Rights Watch (iv) and the Carnegie Foundation (v). This Special Issue aims to investigate this new and intensifying development, and to explore its implications for ideas of ‘global civil society’. How are the measures justified - what threat are they addressing? Are we seeing the emergence of a new ‘anti-INGO Norm’? What are the impacts for global and domestic civil society politics?


We are calling for papers between 4,000 and 8,000 words that reflect in some way on the impacts of new constraints on internationally-funded NGOs. Country-level studies are welcome, as are cross-national or global assessments, or more theorized contributions. Our deadline for submission is Friday 31 March. Decisions on acceptance will be communicated by 30 April. The issue will be published in July 2017.



(i)           Federal Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, 2016-17, ‘Inquiry into and report on all aspects of the conduct of the 2016 Federal Election and matters related thereto’, at:

(ii)          Human Rights Council Resolution 22/6, ‘Protecting Human Right Defenders, clause 9(b), at:

(iii)        World Economic Forum, 2017, Global Risk Report, 2.2 at

(iv)        CIVICUS, 2016, ‘The Continuing Onslaught on Foreign Funding’, in The Year in Review: Civic Space, Rights in Retreat, at:

(v)         Human Rights Watch, 2013, ‘NGOs Have a Right to Receive Foreign Funding’, at:

(vi)        Carnegie Foundation, 2015, ‘The closing Space Challenge: How are Funders Responding’, at: