By Aliyu Aminu Ahmed
The role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in promoting and protecting human rights, providing social services, and contributing to development cannot be overemphasized. As such, both international and local Nigerian laws have been put in place to support their freedom, rights, and independence.
These laws recognize the vital role played by NGOs in society and provide a legal framework for their formation, registration, and operation.
Below are critical statements from key international and local Nigerian laws supporting NGO freedom, rights, and independence.
These statements highlight the key provisions of each law, emphasizing the importance of upholding and protecting the rights of NGOs in Nigeria.
UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.” – Article 2
UN Guidelines for the Role of Governments in Supporting the Development of Civil Society
“Governments should ensure that civil society organizations are able to operate in a legal and regulatory environment that respects their independence and promotes their effective and sustainable functioning.” – Guideline 4.1
Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” – Article 18
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” – Article 22.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
“The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” – Article 12.
Local Nigerian Laws:
Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended):
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” – Section 38.
Freedom of Information Act 2011:
“Every citizen of Nigeria, whether individually or in association with others, shall have the right of access to any information or record, whether written, printed, electronic or in any other form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.” – Section 1(1).
(NGOs) Regulation and Coordination Bill 2016:
“A regulatory framework for the formation, registration, operation and monitoring of NGOs, CSOs and voluntary organizations in Nigeria.” – Preamble.
Ahmed, the executive director of Garga foundation writes from Abuja.