NGOs discussing legal regulation of volunteers’ activities in Russia
The discussion took place at a business breakfast dealing with the arrangements under which NGOs function. It was organised by the Russian branch of the International Centre for Non-commercial Law (ICNL) and the not-for-profit partnership ‘Lawyers for Civil Society’ (LCVS). Currently, Russian law does not define ‘volunteering’. The only mention of the word ‘volunteer’ appears in the law on charity according to the moderator of the meeting, LCVS lawyer Irina Kuznetsova. At the same time in many countries the issue of NGOs employing volunteers is already settled. The director of ICNL, Daria Miloslavskaya, said the process of legislating to regulate such issues there took place in the years 1994-2002. Despite differences in the law from country to country there were three points in common. Who is a volunteer? What should his or her functions be? Who is the client?
An ICNL lawyer had worked up two versions of possible amendments to the federal law on NGOs and these were discussed. He proposed supplementing the federal law with provisions devoted to volunteering activity. There was some discussion about the exact legal term that should be used in designating ‘volunteers’.
Leading representatives of various NGOs engaged in a lively discussion on a number of issues. Questions of especial interest were whether NGOs were obliged to enter into agreements with volunteers or whether they should be able to use their own discretion; what kind of work volunteers could be given to do; who was to be responsible if volunteers caused damage to a third party; how to arrange health and safety protection for them, and so on.
In conclusion the experts decided that it was essential to go on discussing legislative initiatives relating to volunteering.