Over the past few decades, international development policy and practice have evolved towards emphasizing the strengthening of local capacity to drive sustainable economic and social development. The emphasis is placed on "local ownership", "local empowerment", "autonomous local civil society", and support, with core funding, for local organizations working to alleviate poverty. Increasingly, development organizations have adopted such principles and practices, taking an approach to international cooperation that is considered more progressive and more effective than traditional Northern-controlled, Northern-driven approaches.
This evolving reality of development may seem to contradict the requirement for Canadian charities to have "direction and control" of international development activities. Direction and control are emphasized by the regulations and laws in Canada, in particular the provisions of the Income Tax Act (ITA) with respect to foreign activities and accountability. The challenge for Canadian charities working overseas is to meet the requirements of compliance with the ITA while supporting and encouraging Southern-driven, locally-owned models of development.
The Charity Law Education Project was developed in the context of a two-year agreement implemented by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) with financial support from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The goal of the project is to assist Canadian international development charities with overseas activities, by enhancing their capacity to increase compliance with Income Tax Act requirements.