ODIHR/Venice Commission roundtable in Warsaw discusses accountability of and access to funding for associations
Key challenges in ensuring the independence and accountability of associations, as well as providing for their funding, were the focus of a roundtable discussion organized in Warsaw by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission) on 6 and 7 May 2014.
Some 40 experts on freedom of association issues and representatives from civil society organizations and the international community provided expertise and input for the creation of the Freedom of Association Guidelines, which ODIHR and the Venice Commission aim to finalize by the end of 2014. The guidelines are intended to provide those working on these issues, including legislators and civil society organizations, with advice and expertise on international standards on freedom of association, as well as good practice examples.
“Access to resources is a key prerequisite for the exercise of freedom of association,” said Thomas Vennen, Head of the ODIHR Democratization Department. “States may impose regulations to ensure accountability and transparency, but these should not be overly restrictive nor serve illegitimate aims.”
During the discussions, Ziya Tanyar, a lawyer at the Division of Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights of the Venice Commission Secretariat, stressed that “funding regulations should not obstruct the autonomy of associations and their ability to pursue statutory activities, nor should such regulations be discriminatory.”
In addition to discussing challenges, the participants also formulated a number of recommendations on access to international public and private funding, and the independence and accountability of associations.