The Department of Treasury has continuously mischaracterized international U.S. charities as a national security threat since 2001.

Using Treasury's own data, it is clear that charities do not make up a significant portion of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). These figures suggest that U.S. based charities represent less than two percent of organizations with suspected ties to terrorists.

Report: Impact of Banking Restrictions on UK NGOs

Date: 
August 24, 2017
Author: 

Like their American counterparts, British NGOs working in or near areas where non-state armed groups are active increasingly face restrictions on their access to the financial system, according to a 2017 report from Chatham House, Humanitarian Action and Non-state Armed Groups: The Impact of Banking Restrictions on UK NGOs. This may include delayed transfers, the freezing of funds, and closure of bank accounts. 

The report, like many before it, tie the perception of NGOs as high-risk to the Financial Action Task Force's Recommendation 8. In addition, the global financial crisis has made banks subject to tougher regulatory and enforcement regimes, decreasing their appetite for risk. It notes, "Humanitarian NGOs generally accept the need for regulation and due diligence, but the current weight of compliance demands by their banking partners is often seen as disproportionate, resulting in a need to spend donor money on additional staff and due diligence tools, increased administration costs, aid delivery and financial transfer delays, and in some circumstances the closure of programmes to which funding cannot be delivered." 

Report Examines FATF Recommendations as Vehicle for Closing Civil Society Space in Nigeria

Date: 
August 24, 2017
Author: 

Prior to its revision in 2016, the Financial Action Task Force's Recommendation 8 referred to nonprofit organizations as "particularly vulnerable" to terrorist abuse. As a result, many countries implemented laws and policies designed to curb this perceived risk. As a result, NPOs have faced increased scrutiny and legal constraints, shrinking the space for charitable work. 

A report from Spaces for Change in Nigeria, Closing Spaces for Civil Society and Democratic Engagement in Nigeria,  examines the impact of Recommendation 8 on civil society in that country. The first part, Beyond FATF: Trends, Risks and Restrictive Regulation of Non-profit Organisations in Nigeria, is the product of systematic review of that country's legal framework for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism to understand the connection between Nigeria's implementation of Recommendation 8 and shrinking space for civil society there. The second part, Closing Spaces for Civic Engagement and Civil Society in Nigeria, assesses the effectiveness of these policies and created a database of closed spaces, highlighting 100 incidents of overbroad application of these laws. 

World Humanitarian Day 2017

August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, another reminder of the need to alleviate suffering. This year, more than ever, we look to four countries on the brink of famine - Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Unfortunately, for a significant number of U.S. humanitarian aid and development organizations working abroad, the closure of their U.S. bank accounts and the inability to send wire transfers in a timely manner have a significant impact on their ability to fund critical programs in these and other countries in need. 

As described in our February 2017 report on Financial Access for U.S. Nonprofits, "the human costs of NPOs' financial access difficulties and continued inaction must be recognized. When programs are delayed or cancelled because of the inability to transfer funds, peace is not brokered, children are not schooled, staff is not paid, hospitals lose power, the needs of refugees are not met and in the worst cases, people die." 
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Sanctions Bill Includes Counter-Terrorism Financing, Financial Access Language

Date: 
August 10, 2017

An international sanctions bill primarily focused on Russia contains language devoted to countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) and supporting remittances to Somalia as well as wire transfers by legitimate entities. 

Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (HR 3364), signed into law by President Trump on August 2, incorporates two bills that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in late December, in the final hours of the 114th Congress, HR 5594 (National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act) and HR 5607 (Enhancing Treasury's Anti-Terror Tools Act), with some modifications, in Subtitle C of the bill.

Two New Reports Laud Work of Global NPO Coalition on FATF

The Global NPO Coalition on FATF, co-chaired by the Charity & Security Network, plays an important rule in ensuring that recommendations for country-level counter-terrorism finance policies respect human rights and the important role of civil society. Two new reports praise the coalition's work. 

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendation 8 and FATF recommendations following evaluations add to the restrictions faced by civil society organizations, according to a new report from Bread for the World, The Impact of International Counterterrorism on Civil Society Organisations: Understanding the Role of the Financial Action Task Force. Asserting that the links between measures that fight the financing of terrorism and civic space are not known widely, the report explains the role of FATF in setting international standards that affect the way in which civil society organisations are regulated by nation-states, their access to financial services, and their obligations to avoid proscribed organisations and other groups deemed to pose a terrorism risk. The report summarizes the Global Coalition's achievements to date in its Annex. Read more about this report.

A report from UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai, Imagining a World without Participation: Mapping the Achievements of Civil Society, notes that the Global Coalition has "progressively made gains in voicing concerns around the adverse effects on non-profit organisations of international policies against counter-terrorism and money laundering." 

Report Examines Impact of FATF on Civil Society

Date: 
May 23, 2017

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendation 8 and FATF recommendations following evaluations add to the restrictions faced by civil society organizations, according to a new report from Bread for the World, The Impact of International Counterterrorism on Civil Society Organisations: Understanding the Role of the Financial Action Task Force

Asserting that the links between measures that fight the financing of terrorism and civic space are not known widely, the report aims to "inform civil society organisations and non-profit organisations (NPOs), but also political decision makers who are not familiar with anti-terrorism measures." Specifically, it explains the role of FATF in setting international standards that affect the way in which civil society organisations are regulated by nation-states, their access to financial services, and their obligations to avoid proscribed organisations and other groups deemed to pose a terrorism risk. 

UK Study Addresses Conflict between Humanitarian, Counterterrorism Goals

A new study from Chatham House and the Royal United Services Institute in the UK finds that humanitarian objectives are often stymied by counterterrorism laws designed to prevent assistance or funds going to non-state armed groups. Humanitarian Action and Non-state Armed Groups: The UK Regulatory Environment asserts that to resolve this conflict, the UK government needs to adopt a clear, unified approach to reconciling its humanitarian and counterterrorism priorities. 

The report also addresses the global phenomenon of bank de-risking and its impact on humanitarian aid organizations. The report authors urge the UK government to move proactively to counter this trend and to engage in international dialogue aimed at finding solutions. 

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UK Study Seeks Reconciliation of Humanitarian, Counterterrorism Goals

Date: 
May 11, 2017

A new study from Chatham House and the Royal United Services Institute in the UK finds that humanitarian objectives are often stymied by counterterrorism laws designed to prevent assistance or funds going to non-state armed groups. Humanitarian Action and Non-state Armed Groups: The UK Regulatory Environment asserts that to resolve this conflict, the UK government needs to adopt a clear, unified approach to reconciling its humanitarian and counterterrorism priorities. 

The report finds that the licensing system under sanctions regimes is opaque and ineffective, recommending that the UK government seek humanitarian exemptions, as well as simplify and expedite its domestic licensing system. It also notes that although the government cites prosecutorial discretion in asserting that there is no need for additional guidance around potential criminal penalties for incidental payments to listed groups, "prosecutorial discretion is insufficient comfort for humanitarian actors anxious to avoid breaking the law and the wide offences have a 'chilling effect'." 

Two UK government has dismissed recommendations to explore the possibility of introducing exceptions to counterterrorism legislation for humanitarian activities. It argues that legislative change would create a loophole open to exploitation. The Chatham House study recommends that this option should be explored further, with consideration of foreign laws and international instruments. 

The report also addresses the global phenomenon of bank de-risking and its impact on humanitarian aid organizations. The report authors urge the UK government to move proactively to counter this trend and to engage in international dialogue aimed at finding solutions. 

Read the full report

Report: Countering Terrorism Financing’s Effects on Gender Equality & Security

Date: 
April 18, 2017

A new report prepared by the Duke Law International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) and the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) looks at the effects of countering terrorism financing (CTF) measures on women’s rights organizing, women’s rights organizations, and gender equality globally, especially in areas of conflict or at risk of terrorism.  

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