In February 2022, The Rights Practice was pleased to respond to a call for submissions made by Mr. Clément N. Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He will dedicate his thematic report to be presented at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council, to the study of trends, developments and challenges regarding the ability of civil society organisations to access resources, including foreign funding. The Special Rapporteur has emphasised on multiple occasions that access to resources is crucial to the sustainability of civil society organisations contributions to political, social, and economic development. Our submission focuses on the situation in China, and Hong Kong.

In recent years, China has increasingly restricted the opportunities for civil society organisations (CSOs), as well as human rights lawyers and defenders, to access resources. This includes limiting the space for groups to cooperate internationally, to accept domestic and foreign funding and to conduct activities related to human rights. A new Overseas NGO Law was introduced in January 2017, coinciding with a suite of domestic laws which reinforce national security, and treats overseas NGOs as national security risks.

China has similarly restricted a once vibrant civil society in Hong Kong and imposed repressive national security legislation. Activists, lawyers and NGO workers in Hong Kong have been prosecuted and imprisoned since the National Security Law (NSL) came into effect on 1 July 2020. A climate of fear has been created by the NSL, as well as a crackdown on freedom of expression and association. Many organisations are fearful of receiving overseas funding and support.

We call on the donor community to develop new strategies to support civil society, and for the international community to monitor and raise concerns publicly regarding restrictions on civil society in China and Hong Kong.

Read our full submission here.