Iran Relaxes Civil Society Policies

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that his government will “soften” its stance vis-à-vis civil society organizations and nonprofits. The government’s stance towards NGOs had over the past 12 years hardened due to how increasingly politicized the organizations had become during the former Iranian Khatami administration. The government is expected to pass a new bill in the next few months which will allow for Iranian NGOs to have a “greater voice” in government decision making and reduce registration time from around six months to just over one month.

The expected change in the law has already had an effect. In the past year, the number of registered Iranian NGOs has soared to over 7,000, nearly a 30 percent increase on the year prior. The focus of the majority of the NGOs appears to be on so-called “non-controversial” NGOs such as those dedicated to human rights and government transparency, although the number of health and, technology and entrepreneurship nonprofits has risen dramatically.

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