The Charity and Security Network monitors U.S. and foreign government activities and a wide range of news sources to identify developments in national security policy that impact American charities and foundations. We collect and disseminate this information - with a focus on its impact on civil society and nonprofit organizations.
Charity & Security Network Asks Treasury to Open Dialog to Revise Decades Old Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidance
In a Nov. 23, 2015 letter to the Department of Treasury, the Charity & Security Network (C&SN)noting the need for “ongoing engagement between the U.S. government and the NPO sector to ensure that measures intended to protect the sector from abuse by terrorist organizations are effective, risk-based, proportionate and not unduly disruptive of the activities of NPOs. “ To achieve this goal C&SN asked that Treasury open the decade-old Antiterrorist Financing Voluntary Best Practices for NPOs and the Risk Matrix for updating and revision, with input from the nonprofit sector. The letter also asked that Treasury meet with nonprofits to discuss its June 2015 National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment and ongoing proceedings at the Financial Action Task Force that relate to nonprofits. Treasury responded that it plans to engage the sector on these issues, but provided no details.
A new blog on bank "de-risking" of charity accounts, authored by C&SN's Andrea Hall and published by American Banker, has generated comments from former FDIC Chairman Bill Isaac:
"Andrea Hall shines a light on an extremely important issue that is getting scant attention from Treasury, FinCEN, bank regulators, and even bankers. More and more churches and other charitable organizations are being driven from the banking system due to fears that some of the money they handle might wind up in the hands of terrorists and other criminals. Less developed countries and their banks and citizens face the same problems as the charities. U.S. banks and government agencies disclaim responsibility for the situation and blame each other.
Global Coalition Asks FATF to Revise Its Anti-Terrorist Financing Recommendation on Nonprofit Organizations
Calling the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) standard for government rules to prevent nonprofit organizations (NPOs) from abuse by terrorist organizations outdated, the Global NPO Coalition on FATF submitted proposed changes to Recommendation 8 (R8) and its Interpretive Note (IN) on Oct. 8, 2015. Unchanged since 2002, R8/IN set out the criteria FATF uses to evaluate compliance with its standards in 180 countries around the world. In June 2015 FATF published updated guidance for government implementation of R8 that promotes risk-based, proportionate approaches that protect legitimate NPOs. NPO praised this new guidance and now supports a FATF initiative to update R8 and the IN to align them with the risk-based approach. The recommended changes reflect a need to protect NPOs from abuse by terrorist organizations as well as overregulation by government that infringes on basic rights. FATF is expected to take action on revisions some time in 2016.
Two important events surrounding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are expected in the coming months, both with a big impact on nonprofit organizations (NPOs).
Following the June FATF Plenary in Australia, the NPO sector can now expect a revision of the Recommendation 8 Interpretative Note (IN). At the same time, the FATF will begin its periodic evaluation of the U.S. in late 2015. The results of that evaluation will likely shape U.S. counterterrorism laws and policies affecting NPOs going forward.
A number of U.S. nonprofit organizations (NPOs) joined together to send two sign-on letters to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), urging the government to support conflict resolution in Yemen and form a comprehensive strategy to prevent the escalation of the ongoing conflict there.
The 2008 criminal conviction of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and five of its leaders for providing material support to Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, is being challenged in an Aug. 10, 2015 petition seeking a new trial based on new evidence. Although the government admitted that no HLF funds went to Hamas, at trial it argued that the local charity committees HLF worked with were controlled by it. However, these committees have never been placed on the U.S. terrorist list. The new petition presents sworn statements from people directly connected to the local charities that state they were independent and not controlled by Hamas or any other group. A decision on whether to grant an evidentiary hearing is not expected for several months. HLF itself, which was convicted without representation at trial, is not part of this petition and remains unrepresented. Background information on the HLF case can be found here.
CSN Letter to National Security Council Asks for Humanitarian, Peacebuilding Focus in Civil Society Review
In an early August letter to the National Security Council (NSC), the Charity & Security Network asks that federal agencies engaged abroad seize an opportunity to examine rules and policies that affect U.S. nonprofit organizations (NPOs) operating in global hot spots, where their work is badly needed.
Pursuant to the Presidential Memorandum – Civil Society of September 23, 2014, agencies engaged abroad are required to “review their internal regulations, policies, and procedures to ensure that programmatic requirements do not inadvertently impede civil society operations.” In addition, the signatories to the 2013 Joint Statement on the Promotion of Protection of Civil Society agreed “to lead by example to promote laws, policies, and practices that expand the spaces for civil society to operate in accordance with international law.” The regulatory review required by the Presidential Memorandum creates an opportunity to “lead by example,” states the August 4 letter to Laura Schulz, Director for Global Engagement at NSC.
The UN and its Member States should ensure respect for International Humanitarian Law and secure humanitarian access, according to an outcome report issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross and InterAction.
The largest group of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to date has responded to the Obama administration’s new “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) strategy.
A long-awaited final Partner Vetting System (PVS) final rule was issued by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) June 26 (Partner Vetting in USAID Assistance, 80 Fed. Reg. 36693). The rule, which establishes a pilot project in five countries, requires many grant applicants to submit detailed personal information on key employees to USAID for comparison with intelligence databases. It is dismissive of concerns raised by nonprofit organizations (NGOs) and others in response to the proposed rule issued in 2013.