KPMG surveyed our civil society experts in 40 countries that have recently experienced government scrutiny as well as in countries with relatively stable regulatory and non-restrictive environments. The findings of this survey were also supplemented by further research on key trends in the civil society space. The resulting CSO Risk Matrix illustrates among these countries an emerging tendency for increased government regulation and/or restrictions on civil society.
Countries are plotted on the Matrix against variables indicating the amount of government activity in terms of recently enacted or forthcoming legislation or regulations, and its significance for CSOs operating in those countries.
Most of the countries included fall into the center region of the Matrix, where government action has had moderate to significant impact on civil society activities. CSOs in lower middle and middle income countries face the bulk of restrictions. However, as demonstrated by wealthy countries such as Singapore and fast growing economies such as Ethiopia, neither high income nor significant economic growth necessarily equate to open government policies.
Of the 40 countries represented on the Matrix, 14 countries are drafting, proposing, or considering new legislation that imposes greater scrutiny of CSOs. These include Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, India, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, El Salvador, Hungary, Sudan, and Tanzania. The first nine of these countries already have prior restrictive legislation in place.
At the time of the survey, an additional 13 countries were not drafting, proposing, or considering legislation that imposes greater scrutiny of NGOs, but already had existing legal or regulatory restrictions on CSO activity. These countries include Brazil, Ethiopia, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, and Thailand.
KPMG professionals surveyed indicated that CSOs in 18 of 40 countries have the ability to address restrictions on their activities through existing local laws and procedures, or by communicating with local ministries. Possible CSO actions include curtailing specific activities, such as advocacy and political opposition, filing new tax requirements, and complying with new regulations, including registering with additional authorities.
However, based on survey responses, CSOs in 29 out of 40 countries have not yet taken action to adapt to new restrictions. KPMG professionals in only the following nine countries came across CSOs that specifically sought to take this route: Hungary, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, and Uganda. This suggests that CSOs operating in countries included in the Risk Matrix face significant barriers in contesting or adapting to recently enacted laws or regulations.