Deepening U.S. Government Efforts To Collaborate With and Strengthen Civil Society, 58237-58240 [2014-23229]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 187 / Friday, September 26, 2014 / Presidential Documents 58237 Presidential Documents Memorandum of September 23, 2014 Deepening U.S. Government Efforts To Collaborate With and Strengthen Civil Society Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies The participation of civil society is fundamental to democratic governance. Through civil society, citizens come together to hold their leaders accountable and address challenges that governments cannot tackle alone. Civil society organizations—such as community groups, non-governmental organizations, labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations—often drive innovations and develop new ideas and approaches to solve social, economic, and political problems that governments can apply on a larger scale. Moreover, by giving people peaceful avenues to advance their interests and express their convictions, a free and flourishing civil society contributes to stability and helps to counter violent extremism. Countries should ensure that civil society organizations can engage freely in legitimate and peaceful activity, while recognizing the potential for illicit actors to abuse the sector and establishing proportionate and targeted safeguards to prevent that abuse. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES The rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association that enable civil society to participate fully in social, economic, and political life are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In many parts of the world, however, these rights are in danger. An increasing number of governments are inhibiting the free operation of civil society and cutting off civil society organizations’ ability to receive funding from legitimate sources. In some cases, these restrictions arise out of the implementation of laws, regulations, and administrative measures that are being inappropriately applied; in other cases, the laws, regulations, and administrative measures are themselves problematic. Despite concerted efforts by the United States and a growing number of like-minded governments to address this problem, greater, sustained energy and attention is needed worldwide. On September 23, 2013, during the United Nations General Assembly, the United States convened a High Level Event on Civil Society that included heads of state, representatives of civil society, the philanthropic community, and multilateral organizations to spur coordinated international action to support and defend civil society. Through the issuance of a Joint Statement on the Promotion and Protection of Civil Society, attendees affirmed that the strength and success of nations depend on allowing civil society to function without interference, and on robust engagement between governments and civil society to advance shared goals of peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all people. Attendees also committed to take concrete steps, individually and jointly, and to lead by example to promote laws, policies, and practices that expand the space for civil society to operate in accordance with international law. To take further steps to fulfill that commitment, this memorandum directs agencies engaged abroad (as defined in section 6 of this memorandum), including those that do not traditionally work with civil society, to take actions that elevate and strengthen the role of civil society; challenge undue restrictions on civil society; and foster constructive engagement between governments and civil society. VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:44 Sep 25, 2014 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4790 Sfmt 4790 E:\FR\FM\26SEO1.SGM 26SEO1 58238 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 187 / Friday, September 26, 2014 / Presidential Documents Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following: Sec. 1. Engaging in Consultation with Civil Society Representatives. (a) In the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, it is in the national interest to build relationships with people, as well as with governments. Therefore, agencies engaged abroad shall consult with representatives of civil society to explain the views of the United States on particular issues, seek their perspectives, utilize their expertise, and build strong partnerships to address joint challenges. (b) When traveling overseas, senior U.S. officials of agencies engaged abroad shall seek opportunities to meet with representatives of civil society, especially those who face restrictions on their work and who may benefit from international support and solidarity. (c) Each agency engaged abroad shall incorporate inclusive outreach to civil society into their international engagement. Sec. 2. Working with Civil Society Organizations. The U.S. Government works with civil society organizations even when local laws restrict the ability of civil society organizations to operate or where local laws restrict the fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, with due regard for the safety of civil society interlocutors and their operations. Agencies engaged abroad shall oppose, through appropriate means, efforts by foreign governments to dictate the nature of U.S. assistance to civil society, the selection of individuals or entities to implement U.S. Government programs, or the selection of recipients or beneficiaries of those programs. Additionally, agencies engaged abroad shall review their internal regulations, policies, and procedures to ensure that programmatic requirements do not inadvertently impede civil society operations. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Sec. 3. Opposing Undue Restrictions on Civil Society and Fundamental Freedoms. (a) Agencies engaged abroad shall oppose, through appropriate means, efforts by foreign governments that restrict the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association in a manner inconsistent with their international obligations and commitments. Such actions may include urging relevant governments or legislatures to reverse course; making high-level statements or delivering messages publicly or privately; working with local and international civil society organizations and stakeholders, like-minded countries, and regional and multilateral organizations and bodies; and, where possible, providing direct assistance to civil society actors engaged in these efforts. (b) Agencies engaged abroad shall, where possible, expand the provision of advice and other support to governments seeking to institute legal and political reforms to protect civic space, and to civil society organizations where governments are not engaged in such affirmative reform efforts. This may include funding for democracy, human rights, workers’ rights, and governance assistance, as well as emergency support to activists and organizations. (c) Agencies engaged abroad shall seek diplomatic and programmatic opportunities in regional and multilateral organizations and bodies to protect and strengthen civil society. This shall include efforts to enhance support for the work of the U.N. Special Rapporteurs charged with advancing relevant rights, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and human rights defenders. Sec. 4. Facilitating Exchanges between Governments and Civil Society. (a) Agencies engaged abroad shall seek to foster improved relations and understanding between governments and civil society, including in the advancement of social, economic, and development priorities. Such efforts may include training for government and civil society representatives; brokering dialogue between government and civil society representatives; identifying affirmative activities around which governments and civil society organizations can engage; providing legal or other assistance to governments and VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:44 Sep 25, 2014 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4790 Sfmt 4790 E:\FR\FM\26SEO1.SGM 26SEO1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 187 / Friday, September 26, 2014 / Presidential Documents 58239 civil society organizations to draft or improve laws, regulations, and administrative measures; and sharing best practices regarding the proper implementation of these laws. (b) Agencies engaged abroad that organize public, U.S.-hosted international gatherings shall create opportunities for civil society to substantively engage in such events, where appropriate. Sec. 5. Reporting on Progress. The National Security Advisor shall prepare an annual report for the President on the Federal Government’s progress implementing the requirements of this memorandum. Agencies engaged abroad shall provide the National Security Advisor with any requested information on their progress implementing the requirements of this memorandum to include in this annual report. Sec. 6. Definitions. For the purposes of this memorandum, ‘‘agencies engaged abroad’’ are the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. (b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof, or the status of that department or agency within the Federal Government; or asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals. (c) Nothing in this memorandum shall alter the role of the Secretary of State or Chiefs of Mission in the coordination or implementation of U.S. foreign policy, and this memorandum shall be implemented consistent with agencies’ respective missions. VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:44 Sep 25, 2014 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4790 Sfmt 4790 E:\FR\FM\26SEO1.SGM 26SEO1 58240 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 187 / Friday, September 26, 2014 / Presidential Documents (d) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. (e) The Secretary of State is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register. THE WHITE HOUSE, Washington, September 23, 2014 [FR Doc. 2014–23229 Filed 9–25–14; 11:15 am] VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:44 Sep 25, 2014 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4790 Sfmt 4790 E:\FR\FM\26SEO1.SGM 26SEO1 OB#1.EPS</GPH> asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Billing code 4710–10

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 187 (Friday, September 26, 2014)]
[Presidential Documents]
[Pages 58237-58240]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-23229]




                        Presidential Documents 



Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 187 / Friday, September 26, 2014 / 
Presidential Documents

[[Page 58237]]


                Memorandum of September 23, 2014

                
Deepening U.S. Government Efforts To Collaborate 
                With and Strengthen Civil Society

                Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and 
                Agencies

                The participation of civil society is fundamental to 
                democratic governance. Through civil society, citizens 
                come together to hold their leaders accountable and 
                address challenges that governments cannot tackle 
                alone. Civil society organizations--such as community 
                groups, non-governmental organizations, labor unions, 
                indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-
                based organizations, professional associations, and 
                foundations--often drive innovations and develop new 
                ideas and approaches to solve social, economic, and 
                political problems that governments can apply on a 
                larger scale. Moreover, by giving people peaceful 
                avenues to advance their interests and express their 
                convictions, a free and flourishing civil society 
                contributes to stability and helps to counter violent 
                extremism. Countries should ensure that civil society 
                organizations can engage freely in legitimate and 
                peaceful activity, while recognizing the potential for 
                illicit actors to abuse the sector and establishing 
                proportionate and targeted safeguards to prevent that 
                abuse.

                The rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, 
                and association that enable civil society to 
                participate fully in social, economic, and political 
                life are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of 
                Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil 
                and Political Rights. In many parts of the world, 
                however, these rights are in danger. An increasing 
                number of governments are inhibiting the free operation 
                of civil society and cutting off civil society 
                organizations' ability to receive funding from 
                legitimate sources. In some cases, these restrictions 
                arise out of the implementation of laws, regulations, 
                and administrative measures that are being 
                inappropriately applied; in other cases, the laws, 
                regulations, and administrative measures are themselves 
                problematic. Despite concerted efforts by the United 
                States and a growing number of like-minded governments 
                to address this problem, greater, sustained energy and 
                attention is needed worldwide.

                On September 23, 2013, during the United Nations 
                General Assembly, the United States convened a High 
                Level Event on Civil Society that included heads of 
                state, representatives of civil society, the 
                philanthropic community, and multilateral organizations 
                to spur coordinated international action to support and 
                defend civil society. Through the issuance of a Joint 
                Statement on the Promotion and Protection of Civil 
                Society, attendees affirmed that the strength and 
                success of nations depend on allowing civil society to 
                function without interference, and on robust engagement 
                between governments and civil society to advance shared 
                goals of peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all 
                people. Attendees also committed to take concrete 
                steps, individually and jointly, and to lead by example 
                to promote laws, policies, and practices that expand 
                the space for civil society to operate in accordance 
                with international law.

                To take further steps to fulfill that commitment, this 
                memorandum directs agencies engaged abroad (as defined 
                in section 6 of this memorandum), including those that 
                do not traditionally work with civil society, to take 
                actions that elevate and strengthen the role of civil 
                society; challenge undue restrictions on civil society; 
                and foster constructive engagement between governments 
                and civil society.

[[Page 58238]]

                Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President 
                by the Constitution and the laws of the United States 
                of America, I hereby direct the following:

                Sec. 1. Engaging in Consultation with Civil Society 
                Representatives. (a) In the conduct of U.S. foreign 
                policy, it is in the national interest to build 
                relationships with people, as well as with governments. 
                Therefore, agencies engaged abroad shall consult with 
                representatives of civil society to explain the views 
                of the United States on particular issues, seek their 
                perspectives, utilize their expertise, and build strong 
                partnerships to address joint challenges.

                    (b) When traveling overseas, senior U.S. officials 
                of agencies engaged abroad shall seek opportunities to 
                meet with representatives of civil society, especially 
                those who face restrictions on their work and who may 
                benefit from international support and solidarity.
                    (c) Each agency engaged abroad shall incorporate 
                inclusive outreach to civil society into their 
                international engagement.

                Sec. 2. Working with Civil Society Organizations. The 
                U.S. Government works with civil society organizations 
                even when local laws restrict the ability of civil 
                society organizations to operate or where local laws 
                restrict the fundamental freedoms of expression, 
                peaceful assembly, and association, with due regard for 
                the safety of civil society interlocutors and their 
                operations. Agencies engaged abroad shall oppose, 
                through appropriate means, efforts by foreign 
                governments to dictate the nature of U.S. assistance to 
                civil society, the selection of individuals or entities 
                to implement U.S. Government programs, or the selection 
                of recipients or beneficiaries of those programs. 
                Additionally, agencies engaged abroad shall review 
                their internal regulations, policies, and procedures to 
                ensure that programmatic requirements do not 
                inadvertently impede civil society operations.

                Sec. 3. Opposing Undue Restrictions on Civil Society 
                and Fundamental Freedoms. (a) Agencies engaged abroad 
                shall oppose, through appropriate means, efforts by 
                foreign governments that restrict the freedoms of 
                expression, peaceful assembly, and association in a 
                manner inconsistent with their international 
                obligations and commitments. Such actions may include 
                urging relevant governments or legislatures to reverse 
                course; making high-level statements or delivering 
                messages publicly or privately; working with local and 
                international civil society organizations and 
                stakeholders, like-minded countries, and regional and 
                multilateral organizations and bodies; and, where 
                possible, providing direct assistance to civil society 
                actors engaged in these efforts.

                    (b) Agencies engaged abroad shall, where possible, 
                expand the provision of advice and other support to 
                governments seeking to institute legal and political 
                reforms to protect civic space, and to civil society 
                organizations where governments are not engaged in such 
                affirmative reform efforts. This may include funding 
                for democracy, human rights, workers' rights, and 
                governance assistance, as well as emergency support to 
                activists and organizations.
                    (c) Agencies engaged abroad shall seek diplomatic 
                and programmatic opportunities in regional and 
                multilateral organizations and bodies to protect and 
                strengthen civil society. This shall include efforts to 
                enhance support for the work of the U.N. Special 
                Rapporteurs charged with advancing relevant rights, 
                including the rights to freedom of opinion and 
                expression, peaceful assembly and association, and 
                human rights defenders.

                Sec. 4. Facilitating Exchanges between Governments and 
                Civil Society. (a) Agencies engaged abroad shall seek 
                to foster improved relations and understanding between 
                governments and civil society, including in the 
                advancement of social, economic, and development 
                priorities. Such efforts may include training for 
                government and civil society representatives; brokering 
                dialogue between government and civil society 
                representatives; identifying affirmative activities 
                around which governments and civil society 
                organizations can engage; providing legal or other 
                assistance to governments and

[[Page 58239]]

                civil society organizations to draft or improve laws, 
                regulations, and administrative measures; and sharing 
                best practices regarding the proper implementation of 
                these laws.

                    (b) Agencies engaged abroad that organize public, 
                U.S.-hosted international gatherings shall create 
                opportunities for civil society to substantively engage 
                in such events, where appropriate.

                Sec. 5. Reporting on Progress. The National Security 
                Advisor shall prepare an annual report for the 
                President on the Federal Government's progress 
                implementing the requirements of this memorandum. 
                Agencies engaged abroad shall provide the National 
                Security Advisor with any requested information on 
                their progress implementing the requirements of this 
                memorandum to include in this annual report.

                Sec. 6. Definitions. For the purposes of this 
                memorandum, ``agencies engaged abroad'' are the 
                Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, 
                Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human 
                Services, and Homeland Security, the United States 
                Agency for International Development, the Millennium 
                Challenge Corporation, and the Office of the United 
                States Trade Representative.

                Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) This memorandum is not 
                intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, 
                substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in 
                equity by any party against the United States, its 
                departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, 
                employees, or agents, or any other person.

                    (b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed 
                to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the 
head thereof, or the status of that department or agency within the Federal 
Government; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

                    (c) Nothing in this memorandum shall alter the role 
                of the Secretary of State or Chiefs of Mission in the 
                coordination or implementation of U.S. foreign policy, 
                and this memorandum shall be implemented consistent 
                with agencies' respective missions.

[[Page 58240]]

                    (d) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent 
                with applicable law and subject to the availability of 
                appropriations.
                    (e) The Secretary of State is hereby authorized and 
                directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal 
                Register.
                
                
                    (Presidential Sig.)

                THE WHITE HOUSE,

                    Washington, September 23, 2014

[FR Doc. 2014-23229
Filed 9-25-14; 11:15 am]
Billing code 4710-10