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FOCUS December 1997 Volume 10

World Bank and the NGOs

A draft of a handbook on NGOs prepared for the World Bank by a consultancy firm is now in circulation for comments. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights reviewed the draft document and raised concerns about its human rights implications.

The draft document entitled 'Handbook on Good Practices for Laws Relating to Non-Governmental Organizations' is the World Bank's attempt to arrive at coherent and comprehensive statement of principles for domestic legal frameworks for a portion of the non-governmental community, i.e., NGOs that seek to have formal legal status. While LCHR praises the effort of the World Bank's interest in promoting the development of NGOs by having the document drafted, it also warns that the draft document 'endorses unwarranted regulatory intrusions upon the internationally protected right of freedom of association, and thereby presents risks to NGOs working in places where governments would seek to thwart or interfere in their work.'

LCHR prepared a critique of this draft document, and is now circulating it to the NGO community. Comments on the draft document, being at the draft stage, can make some changes.

Some Asian human rights organizations have made comments on the 1996 and 1997 drafts of the document.

The LCHR is asking other NGOs and human rights groups to send comments on both the draft document and the critique. A copy of the draft document can be obtained from the office of John D. Clark, NGO Unit, World Bank, 1818 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20433 USA, and from the Handbook project consultant, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, 1511 K Street, NW, Suite 723, Washington, DC 20005, USA.

Copy of the LCHR critique can be obtained from LCHR: Patricia Armstrong, Senior Coordinator, International Financial Institutions Program, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 333 Seventh Avenue, 13F, New York, New York, 10001-5004 USA, tel. (1212) 845-5200; fax (1212) 845-5299;