Defunding Dissent: Restrictions on Aid to NGOs

Issue Date April 2013
Volume 24
Issue 2
Page Numbers 77-91
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Recent assaults on foreign-funded civil society groups in Egypt and Russia reflect a worrisome trend: Since 2002, twenty countries have updated their laws to restrict foreign funding to NGOs. Under what conditions do governments set these restrictions in place? Using original data from nearly 100 countries and case studies of regime behavior in East Africa and the former Soviet Union, we find that vulnerable governments restrict foreign support to civil society when they feel vulnerable to domestic challenges. Yet, worries about international retaliation can restrain such behavior if governments believe that clamping down will cost them more than it is worth.

About the Authors

Darin Christensen

Darin Christensen is a doctoral candidate in political science at Stanford University.

View all work by Darin Christensen

Jeremy M. Weinstein

Jeremy M. Weinstein is associate professor of political science and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. From 2009 to 2011, he served on the staff of the U.S. National Security Council.

View all work by Jeremy M. Weinstein