Defunding Dissent: Restrictions on Aid to NGOs


Recent assaults on foreign-funded civil society groups in Egypt and Russia reflect a worrisome trend: Since 2002, twenty countries have updated their laws to restrict foreign funding to NGOs. Under what conditions do governments set these restrictions in place? Using original data from nearly 100 countries and case studies of regime behavior in East Africa and the former Soviet Union, we find that vulnerable governments restrict foreign support to civil society when they feel vulnerable to domestic challenges. Yet, worries about international retaliation can restrain such behavior if governments believe that clamping down will cost them more than it is worth.

Cited in US Senate Resolution 540 (113th Congress, 2d Session)

Journal of Democracy
Darin Christensen
Darin Christensen
Associate Professor of Public Policy & Political Science

Political scientist interested in conflict and development.