Non-interference and freedom of association

Resolution of the IAPA Midyear Meeting
April 20-23, 2021

WHEREAS, in Nicaragua the Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents, approved in October 2020 to "put an end to foreign interference in internal affairs," is aimed at blocking the operation of numerous organizations dedicated to defending freedom of expression and human rights; among many others, the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, the Swedish NGO We Effect, and the Nicaraguan chapter of Pen International - which ended their activities to avoid official reprisals for receiving financial contributions from abroad

WHEREAS, in Mexico in April, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador opened a debate on the legitimacy of international organizations that operate in his country denouncing human rights violations, such as Artículo 19 - which he accused of being financed by "foreign companies"

WHEREAS, several governments have raised the banner of non-interference to block all foreign aid to organizations that monitor and promote human rights and freedom of expression - such as Venezuela, with the Law for the Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination of 2010; and Cuba, where independent journalists who may receive salaries financed from abroad are condemned for "mercenarism"

WHEREAS, in Ecuador the government of former President Rafael Correa began a process in 2015 to terminate the Fundamedios organization - which he accused of "political activities" and of disregarding NGO statutes - and that in Bolivia, Law 351 was approved in 2013, which established strict controls over the role of NGOs - it was considered a punitive legislation, as well as a violation of the right to free association

WHEREAS, in all countries there are legal, judicial and administrative means that can be used against those organizations that, on an individual basis, are not transparent or that deviate from their purposes of monitoring and promoting human rights

WHEREAS, delegitimizing an organization dedicated to defending and promoting human rights contravenes agreements and policies dating back to the creation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of the Rights of Persons, the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights

WHEREAS, the United Nations, in its 1999 "Declaration on the rights and responsibilities of individuals, groups and institutions to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental liberties," reaffirms in Article 5 that: "In order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental liberties, everyone has the right, individually or collectively, at the national or international level... to form, join or participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups"

WHEREAS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in its 2009 Report on Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela, reaffirms that when a State obstructs the right to freedom of association, in any of its forms, "it not only restricts freedom of association, but also obstructs the effort of promoting and defending human rights," and that "States should refrain from restricting the financial means of human rights organizations, and should also allow and enable human rights organizations to have access to foreign funds in the context of international cooperation, under conditions of transparency"

WHEREAS, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in its February 2, 2001 ruling - Baena Ricardo et al. vs. Panama - established that freedom of association includes - in addition to the creation of organizations - "the implementation of internal structures, activities and action programs, without any intervention by the authorities that would limit or hinder the exercise of the respective right"


To condemn the government of Nicaragua for its Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents, that criminalizes the activities of organizations dedicated to monitoring and promoting freedom of expression, citizen participation, religious freedom, the right of association and human rights.

To sound the alarm over the resurgence of the tendency to create laws and/or undermine the credibility of organizations that defend and promote human rights - with the aim of limiting their operations and activities.