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Legislating on the Right of Association: A Realistic Way Forward

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AbstractThis paper is the third from the “Salon Series on the Creation of Legislation on the Right of Association and Social Organizations”. This was a series of salons jointly hosted by Tsinghua University’s ngo Research Center, the Philanthropy and ngo Support Center, and the editorial office of the China Nonprofit Review. Discussion about the creation of legislation on the right of association began in China during the 1980s, at which time a bill was drawn up, but for various reasons, both political and social, the bill was never passed. This paper discusses the fundamental nature of the right of association and the feasibility and necessity of establishing legislation on this right in the China of today. It ponders the different ways in which the right of association may be enshrined in law, looking at the scattering of legal provisions throughout numerous pieces of legislation (in a multi-legislative model) in contrast with the method of spelling out of the right of association in one or more centralized laws (in a centralized legislative model). The paper also explores the relationship between the formulation of a basic law for social organizations and legislating on the right of association. It was unanimous amongst the experts speaking at the salon upon which this paper is based that establishing a law on the right of association would be an important hallmark of China’s process in developing stronger rule of law, and that it is a sine qua non for achieving constitutionalism and advancing the implementation of the Constitution.


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