European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations

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European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations
Short title: Convention on NGO Recognition in Europe
Title (engl.): European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations
Abbreviation: EÜAnerkRpNGO (not official)
Date: April 24, 1986
Come into effect: January 1, 1991
Reference: Council of Europe website
Contract type: multinational
Legal matter: legal persons
Signing: April 24, 1986
Ratification : Council of Europe website

Germany: is missing
Liechtenstein: Ratified September 18, 2017
Austria: Ratified April 27, 1992
Switzerland: Ratified September 24, 1990
Please note the note on the applicable contract version .

The European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations (Original French : Convention européenne sur la reconnaissance de la personnalité juridique des organizations internationales non gouvernementales ) regulates the cross-border recognition of the legal personality of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) among the member states of the Council of Europe that have ratified the treaty .

The Convention entered into force on January 1, 1991, when three member states of the Council of Europe declared their binding consent to be bound by the Convention, in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention.


The preamble to the Convention was presented in order to further strengthen and secure the valuable work of the internationally active, non-governmental organizations for the international community - particularly in the fields of science, culture, charity, philanthropy, health and education . In doing so, they can also contribute to the implementation of the goals and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the Council of Europe. The aim should also be to facilitate the activities of NGOs through the recognition of the legal personality of these organizations by the member states of the Council of Europe at European level.

Material scope

The convention applies to associations, foundations and other private organizations (NGOs). According to Article 1 of the Convention, these must meet the following requirements:

  1. have a non-profit purpose of international benefit;
  2. have been established by a legal act based on the domestic law of a contracting party;
  3. carry out an activity that has an impact in at least two countries, and
  4. have their statutory seat in the territory of a contracting party and their administrative seat in the territory of this or another contracting party.

This definition can partly also be viewed as a general definition for internationally active NGOs, whereby partly profit-oriented organizations are also included under the NGO.

Extent of the legal personality of the NGOs in the contracting states

The extent of legal personality and the legal capacity of an NGO, as acquired in the contracting party in which it has its statutory seat, are recognized by law in the other contracting parties in accordance with Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the Convention

To prove the acquisition of legal personality and legal capacity, only the submission of the statutes or other founding deeds or documents (e.g. official approval, entry in a register or any other form of announcement) of the NGO is required (Article 3 para. 1 Convention).

Limitation of the agreement or the rights of the NGO

The application of the convention can only be excluded if the NGO that invokes this convention is due to its aim, purpose or actual activity

  1. acts contrary to national or public security, the maintenance of order or the prevention of crime, the protection of health or morality or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, or
  2. endangers relations with another state or the maintenance of world peace and security.

Member States

The member states of the treaty are (as of October 6, 2017): Belgium , France , Greece , Liechtenstein , Macedonia , the Netherlands , Austria , Portugal , Switzerland , Slovenia , the United Kingdom and Cyprus .

The UK treaty also covers the island of Guernsey (since December 8, 1989), Isle of Man (since February 3, 1989) and Jersey (since October 7, 1993).

With the exception of Germany , all German-speaking states are signatory states to the convention. Of the ratifying states, nine are member states of the European Union and ten are member states of the EEA Agreement . The reluctance of the Federal Republic of Germany to ratify the Convention can be found in German legal practice , according to which the seat theory is predominant. According to this, the law of the country in which the company , association etc. has its actual administrative seat is decisive for the legal personality of legal persons . The counter-model to the seat theory is the foundation theory and is largely not recognized in German teaching. Since a more open regulation of international private law concerning the matter of recognition in German law should not be prejudiced, the signature and ratification by the Federal Republic of Germany is currently not being considered .

Structure of the Convention

  • preamble
  • Article 1 (material scope)
  • Article 2 (recognition in the other Member States)
  • Article 3 (evidence of acquisition of legal personality and legal capacity)
  • Article 4 (restrictions)
  • Article 5 (ratification of the Convention)
  • Articles 6 and 7 (entry into force of the Convention)
  • Article 8 (territorial scope of the Convention)
  • Article 9 (inadmissibility of reservations)
  • Article 10 (denunciation of the Convention)
  • Article 11 (notifications)


  • Max Wesiack, European International Association Law: Cross-border relocation and conversion in the light of the freedom of establishment and the general freedom of movement , Tübingen 2012, Mohr Siebeck Verlag, ISBN 978-3-16-151858-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See also Andreas von Arnauld in Völkerrecht , who regards this activity of NGOs as decisive for the further development of international law - in particular through their lobbying activities, which provide significant impulses at international conferences (textbook 3rd edition, Heidelberg 2016, CF Müller Verlag, ISBN 9783811452541 , Margin no.119).
  2. ^ Andreas von Arnauld, Völkerrecht .
  3. ↑ Entry into force for the Principality of Liechtenstein: January 1, 2018.
  4. ^ Information from the Federal Government , Federal Government report on the status of the signing and ratification of European agreements and conventions by the Federal Republic of Germany for the period from March 2015 to February 2017, Bundestag printed matter 18/11866 of March 31, 2017.