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What Makes an NGO 'Legitimate' in the Eyes of States?

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Chapter Summary

When deciding whether an NGO qualifies for domestic or an international legal status, states are in fact carrying out their own legitimacy test. The purpose of this chapter is to identify the criteria employed as part of these qualifying procedures. Among international organizations only the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have systematically collected information on the criteria for the domestic recognition of NGOs employed by their member states. As regards the criteria for admission to consultative status, the chapter is restricted to those developed by the United Nations and the Council of Europe. The official criteria by which states profess to judge the legitimacy of NGOs are not excessively demanding. They can be summarized as follows; NGOs are free to determine their own internal structure, they are not required to be internally democratic or membership-based.

Keywords: Council of Europe; domestic legal personality; international legal status; NGO legitimacy; NGO self-regulation; UN consultative status



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