Covenants, Constitutions, and Distinct Law Types: Investigating Governments’ Restrictions on CSOs Using an Institutional Approach

  • Anthony J. DeMatteeEmail author
Original Paper


A growing number of researchers study the laws that regulate the third sector and caution the legal expansion is a global crackdown on civil society. This article asks two questions of a thoroughly researched form of legal repression: restrictions on foreign aid to CSOs. First, do institutional differences affect the adoption of these laws? Second, do laws that appear different in content also have different causes? A two-stage analysis addresses these questions using data from 138 countries from 1993 to 2012. The first analysis studies the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and constitution-level differences regarding international treaties’ status. The study then uses competing risk models to assess whether the factors that predict adoption vary across law types. The study finds that given ICCPR ratification, constitutions that privilege treaties above ordinary legislation create an institutional context that makes adoption less likely. Competing risk models suggest different laws have different risk factors, which implies these laws are more conceptually distinct than equivalent. Incorporating these findings in future work will strengthen the theory, methods, and concepts used to understand the legal approaches that regulate civil society.


CSOs NGOs Civil society Regulations Constitutions International treaties 



I am grateful to Jennifer Brass, Terrance Chapman, Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Michelle Reddy, Chrystie Swiney, Joey Carroll, Martin Delaroche, Renzo de la Riva Agüero, Laura Montenovo, the reviewers, and the journal’s editorial team for their written comments and constructive criticisms. My appreciation also extends to those who offered early input on the project at the International Society for Third-Sector Research, Brass Club, the Emory Conference on Institutions and Lawmaking, the Midwest Political Science Association, the International Spring School on Public Policy, and the Workshop on the Ostrom Workshop (WOW6).


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© International Society for Third-Sector Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Department of Political ScienceIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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