The New Civil Society Law and its Impact on the Movement of the Sector: with Particular Reference to Advocacy-Based Organizations

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Addis Ababa University


Ethiopia’s new charities and societies legislation has been affecting the growth and effectiveness of civil society organizations, particularly advocacy-based organizations, since its implementation. Though a lot has been said and written concerning the effect of the law on civil society organizations, particularly advocacy-based organizations, yet there is no empirical evidence that can explain the effect of the law. Since rhetoric alone is not sufficient to judge the impact of the law, this study seeks to assess on the impact of the law on the operation of CSOs. To show the impact of the law the researcher has collected primary data from nine individual civil society organizations and five consortium organizations through two different types of questionnaires, and has interviewed the implementing Agency using semi-structured interview. The analysis indicates the following results: the total number of civil society organizations has substantially dwindled as compared to pre-reform period; the majority of Ethiopian civil society organizations has changed their areas of engagement that they were primarily established for; Ethiopian civil society organizations that opted not to change their former areas of involvement, are not as active as pre-reform period mainly due to lack of funding; and more than ninety percent of civil society organizations currently operating in the country terminated governance component of their intervention-implying reduction in effectiveness in their development intervention. From the aforementioned findings one can infer that the law is affecting the growth, engagement and effectiveness of the civil society organizations, particularly advocacy-based organizations. Hence, the new law for charities and societies is restrictive. This has far-reaching implication for democratization and development process of the country. Among many, one is less citizen participation and hence less pluralism, democracy and respect for human rights in the country. To minimize the adverse effect of the law, those most restrictive provisions of the law, that is, article 2(3) and 14(5) must be repealed