Legal Status of Non-Governmental Organisations

Lecture, Seminar
Lecturer(s) Gintare Pazereckaite
  • Course description

    The general aim of the course is to analyse international, regional and, where relevant, national legal framework applicable to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), addressing contemporary challenges in their establishment and functioning from a legal point of view. The first part of the course provides comprehensive analysis of general issues concerning legal status of a NGO, including definition of a NGO, process of establishment, applicable rules and guarantees, their accountability, and relations with other subjects, e.g. states and inter-governmental organizations. The second part of the course focuses on legal regulation of NGOs in the context of humanitarian action. Finally, through concrete examples the course addresses challenges currently faced by NGOs, in particular, in the Post-Soviet States region.
  • Main themes

    1. Historic and conceptual background, role of NGOs in a society
    2. Definition of NGOs in International Law
    3. Governance and modes of operation of international NGOs
    4. Rights of NGOs under International Law
    5. Current trends in national legal regulation concerning NGOs
    6. Standing of NGOs before judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, other means of participation in judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings
    7. Participation in international organisations, cooperation with international organisations, role of NGOs in enforcing international legal obligations of states
    8. Obligations of NGOs under International Law, accountability, transparency
    9. Role of NGOs in time of a crisis: key concepts, actors, possible modes of action, cooperation
    10. Actions during an armed conflict, relevant rules of International Humanitarian Law
    11. Case studies 
  • Learning outcomes

    • Understanding of function of NGOs in a society and their role in the context of ensuring rule of law.
    • Extensive knowledge legal regulation of NGOs.
    • Ability to critically analyse and evaluate the roles and activities of NGOs from the legal point of view.
    • Understanding of current challenges in the international community, which affect activities of NGOs.
    • Comprehension of main trends in national legal regulation concerning NGOs.
    • Ability to work individually and to analyse complex practical situations in order to identify main problems and to propose possible course of action.
    • Ability to present in a persuasive manner legal position based on analysis of relevant legal regulation, case law and practice.
  • Assessment criteria and methods

    Independent research work, analysis of practical cases and/or discussions during the course (50%): quality of research, ability to identify key issues, clarity and structure of presentation, creative thinking.

    Written exam (50%): knowledge of the material presented and discussed during the course as well as ability to apply knowledge when analysing concrete practical examples.

  • Required reading

    Compulsory reading
    Ingrid Rossi 2010 Legal Status of Non-Governmental Organizations in International Law Cambridge: Intersentia
    Anna-Karin Lindblom 2005
    (and later eds)
    Non-Governmental Organisations in International Law New York: Cambridge University Press
    Heintze, Hans-Joachim, Thielbörger, Pierre (Eds.) 2017 International Humanitarian Action, NOHA textbook Springer
    Additional reading
    Claudine Barrat
    2014 Status of NGOs in International Humanitarian Law Leiden: Brill/Nijhoff
    Roger Mac Ginty, Jenny H Peterson 2015 The Routledge Companion to Humanitarian Action Routledge
    Thomas G Weiss 2013 Humanitarian Business Polity

Last updated: 24 August 2017

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