ACSO issues new directive to facilitate registration of foreign CSOs

The Ethiopian Authority of Civil Society Organizations (ACSO) has issued a new directive, Proclamation No. 986/2024, to facilitate the registration and operation of foreign-based organizations in Ethiopia. This directive allows these organizations to operate independently or collaborate with local non-governmental organizations, providing them with financial, material, and knowledge-based support.

Previously, although foreign humanitarian organizations were permitted to operate in Ethiopia, there were no specific guidelines governing their activities. This new directive aims to clarify these organizations’ legal obligations and rights within Ethiopia, enhancing the registration process and protecting their legal interests.

The directive was developed after consulting with over 50 domestic civil unions, addressing the ambiguities previously raised by foreign CSOs. It establishes a clear regulatory framework that governs the funding, management, and employment of foreign nationals within these organizations. Moreover, it specifies that foreign organizations and those established by foreign nationals in Ethiopia are prohibited from engaging in political activities, such as supporting or influencing political parties, unless explicitly allowed by law.

ACSO’s role is to oversee, support, and monitor the activities of civil society organizations operating within the country. The directive also emphasizes the importance of foreign civil society organizations in Ethiopia’s development, aiming to boost capacity-building programs that involve collaborations between foreign organizations, local NGOs, and government bodies.

Since its reorganization in 2019, ACSO has registered 2,455 new domestic and 214 foreign civil society organizations, with 1,899 existing ones being re-registered. This new directive is expected to significantly enhance the effectiveness of cooperation and development efforts by foreign and domestic civil society organizations in Ethiopia.

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