A team of legal experts led by Eduardo Szazi, of Szazi Bechara Storto Reicher and Figueiredo Lopes Advogados of Brazil, has compiled and analyzed the laws and practices regulating civil society organizations (CSOs) lifecycles of thirty-five of the Organization of American States (OAS) member countries, comparing them to relevant international standards.

The study has supported Commissioner Ramiro Orias Arredondo, of the Inter-American Juridical Committee (IAJC) of the OAS, in preparing a draft Declaration of “Inter-American Principles on the legal regime for the creation, operation, financing, and dissolution of non-profit civil entities” that sets forth and justifies twelve principles of widespread application.

Article 16 of the American Convention on Human Rights provides that “[e]veryone has the right to associate freely for ideological, religious, political, economic, labor, social, cultural, sports, or other purposes… The exercise of this right is subject only to such restrictions established by law as may be necessary in a democratic society, in the interest of national security, public safety or public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.” Nevertheless, unjustified restrictions to this right based in law or government practice persist in the Americas and around the world. In response to this global concern, the United Nations, and regional mechanisms, most notably in Europe and Africa, have developed standards to promote and protect the right to freedom of association. The Inter-American system, primarily through its decade old Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Americas has also addressed problematic laws and practices that limit free association right. However, unlike other regions, it has not issued guiding principles for the Americas.

IAJC standards on regulation of CSOs are much needed, as CSOs in all OAS member states face legal obstacles related to the key lifecycle moments and themes to be covered by the Principles. The full IAJC will debate the proposed Inter-American Principles at its March 2023 plenary in Rio de Janeiro.

November, 9, 2022

More from Szazi, Bechara, Storto, Reicher e Figueirêdo Lopes Advogados