Authoritatian governments have cleverly used the liberal norm of transparency in order to shut down liberal groups in their countries, a new report has detailed.
The report, "Distract, Divide, Detach: Using Transparency and Accountability to Justify Regulation of Civil Society Organizations," is aimed at helping civil society organizations (CSOs) against a growing backlash against them. The report describes how a focus on transparency, in particular requirements to disclose sources of funding, has allowed authoritarian states to paint liberal CSOs (also known as NGOs, non-governmental organizations) as puppets of the West with little local constituency, and to justify crackdowns against them.
The most notorious example is Russia's so-called "Foreign Agents Law," which requires groups getting funding from abroad to register and tar themselves with that unattractive label. But that is just one example of many similar cases around the world, and especially in the post-Soviet space.
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