3-tier system of NGO legislation under discussion

A Working Group of the Council for Human Rights and Ministry of Justice discuss the creation of a three-tier system of NGO legislation


04.02.2015, Russian Federation


The Presidential Council’s Working Group on Human Rights (HRC) has held its second meeting with the Justice Ministry on streamlining NGO legislation. Experts discussed the possibility of creating a three-tier system to help systemise legislation, which, according to the Head of the Presidential Council, is currently in a chaotic state.

NGO legislation is built on the principle of the separation of private and public laws, according to Mikhail Fedotov, Chair of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. He explained that the Civil Code currently does not regulate public law issues surrounding NGO activities. Consequently, such matters need to be governed by other legal instruments as Civil Law is not relevant in this case.

Discussions on establishing this proposed three-tier system centred on the following: The Constitution of the Russian Federation is seen as the cornerstone of all legislation, the Civil Code is based on the Constitution, and in order to establish the principles of an NGO code there should be a Federal Law on “Non-profit making organisations” which would mainly cover private law issues. It is proposed that different types of NGO activity will be regulated by specific laws. Questions relating to public law would, according to members of the Working Group, be regulated by legislation on the rights of association (working title), and based on principles enshrined within the Russian Constitution. It will also form the basis of a series of special laws that have a public law element, such as legislation on political parties, Cossack communities and trade unions.

The proposal to prepare a Bill on the rights of the citizen to association was put forward by Elena Abrosimova, Head of the Department of Commercial Law at Moscow’s State Lomonosov University, and discussed at the Working Group’s first meeting.

In addition, special laws won’t be able to circumvent private law issues, which will be decided by reference to the law on “Non-profit making organisations” said Fedotov. He stressed that it’s not only necessary to streamline legislation and its systemisation. “In my view, we’ll get more than enough NGO legislation through this proposed three-tier system. The difficulty today lies not only in the fact that existing laws are inconsistent with the Civil Code. The problem is that the current situation is chaotic, which has been brought about by constant changes to legislation that have created discrepancies within the system”, Fedotov added.

The next meeting of the HRC Working Group and Ministry of Justice is to be held on 18 February. The question of streamlining NGO legislation was discussed in the Federation’s Public Chamber at the end of January. The Presidential Council’s Working Group and the Federal Chamber have agreed to work closely with each other on this issue. Elena Topoleva, a member of both the Public Chamber and HRC, will act as intermediary between the two parties.

Author: Georgy Ivanushkin


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