Disciplining human rights organisations through an accounting regulation: a case of the ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia

Goncharenko, Galina and Khadaroo, Iqbal (2019) Disciplining human rights organisations through an accounting regulation: a case of the ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia. Critical Perspectives On Accounting. a102129. ISSN 1045-2354

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Abstract

Governments in certain countries have directly and indirectly influenced the activism of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This study extends prior studies on NGO accountability by showing the potency of accounting in enabling governments to use the pretext of visibility to indirectly achieve an outcome – curbing activism – similar to that resulting from the direct prohibition of foreign funding. It examines how an accounting regulation was utilised to discipline human rights organisations (HROs) and their members of staff by using the case of the ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia. This accounting regulation abruptly changed accounting for foreign funding to stigmatise HROs and influence their political activism. More specifically, the ‘foreign agents’ law: created a new group of governable objects by labelling them as ‘NGOs performing the functions of a foreign agent’ to distinguish them from other types of NGOs; encumbered NGOs with costly reporting requirements; and empowered government authorities to discipline ‘deviant NGOs’ and their employees. The threat of inspections, penalties, damaged reputations and spoiled identities through public shaming campaigns and negative publicity not only resulted in a substantial reduction in human rights activism but also led to the demise of Russian HROs and human rights defenders.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: foreign funding restrictions; human rights organisations; disciplinary power; accounting regulation
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Accounting and Finance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5601 Accounting. Bookkeeping
Depositing User: Galina Goncharenko
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2019 09:03
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2019 09:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/88377

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