September 10 2012
Under CPA Order 45, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) must register to carry on its conceived activities in Iraq. The authority for registering and regulating NGOs has changed a number of times since the order was issued. Initially, registration and regulatory authority rested with the Minister of Planning. Authority was then transferred to a newly created Minister of State for Civil Society Affairs, which executed the function until recently, when it was again moved to the General Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers. The requirements for registration have not changed significantly since the order was issued, although there have been differing interpretations of the requirements and a general desire by the regulatory authority to seek more information than was perhaps contemplated by the original order.
Under the order, an 'NGO' is defined as an organisation or foundation that is organised to undertake one or more of the following as its principal activities:
An international NGO (or 'foreign' NGO, as stated in the order), is an NGO that is established with its registered office or headquarters outside Iraq.
According to the most recent registration form for NGOs provided by the NGO Office, international NGOs must designate their activities from among the following options:
International NGOs must be not-for-profit organisations and must have no government connection. Once registered, an international NGO will be subject to regulation and supervision by the NGO Office. International NGOs will be exempt from corporate taxes and social security.
In the Kurdistan region, the regional government has issued Regulation 1 regarding the registration and regulation of international NGOs in the region. The regulation is substantially similar to the requirements for the registration of international NGOs under the order and the instructions of the NGO Office. The activities that NGOs may pursue are as follows:
The agency responsible for registration and regulation of international NGOs in Kurdistan is the Kurdistan Ministry of Humanitarian Aid and Cooperation (MHAC). An international NGO registered with the NGO Office must pursue a separate registration with the MHAC before conducting any activities in the Kurdistan region (presently Erbil, Dohuk and Suleimaniyah), and must submit separate reports on its activities to the MHAC.
In addition to the international NGO process outlined above, Iraq has a separate and analogous process for domestic NGOs that have no international affiliation. An 'Iraqi NGO' is defined in the order as an NGO that is established with its registered office or headquarters inside Iraq (Section 1(2)).
The same conditions as set out above would apply for registration of a domestic NGO, and the same rules regarding prudential and non-prudential requirements would exist.
All NGOs, whether domestic and international, must:
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Thomas W Donovan