Assessing the Nature of Civil Society Organizations and the Place Given for Public Benefit Organizations under the New CSO Proclamation of Ethiopia
Civil society organizations (CSOs) have peculiar features that distinguish them from the commercial sectors and governmental organizations. Owing to the dearth of literature on the subject, this paper tries to highlight on the notion and legal forms of CSOs in Ethiopia as recognized under the CSO Proclamation. Most importantly, it intends to examine the place given to the Public Benefit Organizations (PBOs) and the types of CSOs required to be established for the benefits of the general public. To this effect, the paper used a desktop research method by which it made a critical analysis of the relevant legislations and literature, including the prevalent international practices. The discussion revealed that the CSO Proclamation unveils important developments such as; providing a guiding definition for “CSO” and relaxing the operational freedom of CSOs. However, it has also shortcomings such as; clarity problems in its characterization of CSO, failure to adequately identify what constitutes ‘public benefits’ which is a basic nature of PBOs, failure to provide differential treatments and ignoring some important prescriptions of the repealed CSO laws. The need of adequate determination of the ‘public benefit’ clause, inclination to a differential treatment approach which takes in to account essential factors like types and purposes of CSOs to draw relevant lessons from the prevalent international practices are the points of analysis made to evaluate the CSOs Proclamation. The author holds that these propositions should be reflected at least, in the coming regulation and directives.