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About us

The European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) is a leading European resource and research center in the field of policies and laws affecting civil society. 

ECNL staff has more than 10 years of experience in promoting CSO law reform in the following regions: Western Europe and European Union; new EU member states; Newly Independent States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine); Western Balkans and Turkey.

Our mission is to promote an enabling legal and fiscal environment for civil society in Europe and beyond.

Our methodology of work emphasizes participation, transparency and local ownership. Besides working with local partners, ECNL has a long history working with multilateral institutions and the international community, and has successfully undertaken projects for the European Union (EU), the World Bank, USAID, UNDP, UNOPS, UNVolunteers and others.

ECNL’s vision encompasses pluralistic democracies in the region in which the legal environment enables people and their organizations to exercise their rights and shape their society through voluntary action.


Cutting-edge expertise and professionalism that ensures high quality policy solutions

ECNL not only holds itself to the standards of International and European Law but undertakes ongoing research to identify best practices, effects and impacts of legislation, factors of influence and other relevant information in the field of civil society law and related areas (government –CSO cooperation, sustainability, participation etc.).  ECNL provides practical guidance and assistance to build domestic capacity for policy research and analysis related to an enabling environment for civil society.

Regional perspective which provides innovative approaches to domestic problems

As a regional organization ECNL shares alternative models, lessons learnt, best practices and experiences across borders; promotes peer-learning and experience exchange among government and CSOs alike; and provides comparative information to assist local partners in adapting or creating new solutions appropriate to their environments. ECNL staff is regionally representative and possesses a rich understanding of the political/cultural contexts of the countries in which it realises its program goals.

Fostering collaboration in order to achieve better and more sustainable results

Experience has taught us that a coalition of civil society actors will have higher leverage than individual CSOs; and that without the ownership of all interested stakeholders, outcomes will be short-lived. ECNL’s professional independence allows us to engage with a wide range of partners, including both government and CSOs – in the role of an “honest broker” -; and facilitate successful collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders.

A holistic human rights based approach

reflecting the principles and value-base of pluralistic democracies in which human rights are fully respected, and citizens are empowered to exercise their rights.  This requires: (1) advocacy to ensure implementation of human rights obligations by the governments of the region, in which ECNL is engaged both through working at the country level and through its work with ICNL, e.g. in supporting the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly; (2) cultural sensitivity and understanding of the needs and priorities of local partners and the realities of the concrete legal, cultural, political and social environment.  ECNL’s success is largely due to its ability to combine these two elements in a constructive way, achieving outcomes that are locally owned and in line with international norms.