Abstract: How Derisking Impacts Women Peacebuilders in the MENA Region

Date: 
December 19, 2017
Author: 

Women peacebuilders from around the world have increasing voiced concern about the impact of the derisking phenomenon. To learn more, Women Peacemakers Program held a regional consultation in Lebanon in January 2017 that was attended by 12 civil society organizations focused on peacebuilding and women's rights. 

The resulting consultation report, Women Peacebuilders from the MENA Region Discuss Shrinking Civil Society Space Due to Countering Terrorism Financing, provides brief background information on the issue of counter-terrorism financing, its impacts on women's civil society organizing the MENA region, and key recommendations formulated by the consultation's participants. 

Read the report.

Solutions for Nonprofits' Banking Problems: Next Steps

Event Date: 
December 12, 2017
The Global NPO Coalition on FATF 
invites you to a webinar:
 
In May we presented results from two important studies that document the global scale of a serious problem: access to banking services for nonprofit organizations with international activities (online here). Now we invite you to join us in working on solutions.
 
Tuesday Dec. 12
Featuring:
  • Sue Eckert, World Banks/ACAMS Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on NPO Financial Access
  • Six members with updates from advocacy efforts in Europe, South America and North America
  • Jerry Brito, Dir. Coin Center, on piloting use of cryptocurrency for grantmaking, humanitarian emergencies
  • Hanna Surmatz, European Foundation Centre, with update from the recent FATF Plenary
Time will be reserved for your questions and comments. 

 

View the recording

View the Power Point slides from the program*

 

* Please note: Because a technical glitch during the program booted the organizer out of the webinar program, the recording ends approximately 7 minutes before the end of the presentations. However, you can view all of the slides presented by clicking on the link above.

London Calling

Date: 
December 11, 2017
Author: 
Andrea Hall

London Calling

I’m a child of the 80s, and The Clash is still a vital part of my playlist. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to London to speak about financial access for nonprofits, an issue near and dear to us at Charity & Security Network. The added bonus was that as I prepared my talk, scheduled meetings around the conference and made travel plans, The Clash’s music became my earworm.

The World Humanitarian Action Forum was convened by UK-based Humanitarian Forum -- a network of humanitarian and development organizations from Muslim donor and recipient countries, the West, and multilateral organizations – in collaboration with more than 30 organizations from around the world. I was part of the de-risking roundtable, one of three conference tracks, along with approximately 50 participants from the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, Yemen and other countries, most of whom represented organizations impacted by de-risking.

C&SN Testifies Before IACHR

Date: 
December 11, 2017

Just three days before International Human Rights Day, Charity & Security Network joined CIVICUS Alliance, the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law ICNL) and a defendant in the J20 criminal trial stemming from the Inauguration Day protests to present testimony on restrictions of the freedoms of association and peaceful assembly in the U.S. before the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights.

Charity & Security Network’s Andrea Hall presented data from the February 2017 report, Financial Access for U.S. Nonprofits, on the financial access difficulties that nonprofits are having in accessing banking services. Her testimony outlined how this problem, which includes account closures and wire transfer delays, severely impedes the organizations’ ability to carry out their programs. Access to funds is integral to the right to freely associate.

Bobbie Traut of CIVICUS led the panel and gave an overview of the problems with freedom of association and assembly in the U.S. today, highlighting data available in the CIVICUS Monitor. Charity & Security Network is a research partner on the Monitor.

Nick Robinson of ICNL discussed the serious threats to freedom of peaceful assembly that have passed or are pending in various state legislatures. He also explained that the militarization of local police has created a hostile and dangerous environment for protestors that includes kettling and the use of chemical agents without proper warning. That information is contained in ICNL's protest law tracker

Elizabeth Lagesse is a defendant in what is known as the J20 criminal trial. She is also a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit against the Washington, D.C. metropolitan police concerning the same events. Lagesse is facing multiple criminal charges associated with the protest, including felony rioting, inciting a riot and conspiracy to riot, even though prosecutors have admitted in court that they have no evidence that she harmed any people or property. More than 230 protesters, journalists and legal observers were arrested. As prosecutors have aggressively pursued these charges, they have depicted political organizing as a political conspiracy, she said, and described the prosecution’s disruption to the lives of her and her co-defendants, each of whom face up to several decades in prison. She also noted the chilling impact of these cases on other protesters. 

The U.S. government was then given an opportunity to respond to the civil society panel’s presentation. They used this time to present a history lesson on freedom of speech in the United States. Following their remarks, the IACHR commissioners publicly scolded the U.S. government representatives for making “no reference to what is happening” in their remarks, and noting their serious concern with the problems outlined by civil society. The only way things can change is by admitting there has been a regression, … and that the regression is caused by the highest levels of power in the U.S. government,” said IAHCR chairwoman Margarette May Macaulay. She added that the situation with the J20 defendants is “unacceptable” and that she expected the U.S. government’s answer to focus on that. Finally, she noted that given the current state of civil liberties in the U.S., the country’s founders must be “turning in their graves.”

View the video of the hearing

View a photos of the event here and here

House Financial Services Committee Approves Bank “Customer Protection” Bill

Date: 
November 6, 2017

A bill (HR 2706) intended to address concerns about federal bank regulators pressuring banks to limit or drop customers passed the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 12, 2107 on a 59-1 vote. Arising from a dispute over the controversial “Operation Choke Point”  during the Obama administration, the bill would require regulators to have a “valid” reason to tell banks to drop a customer or class of customers, and require customers be given notice of the reasons. If passed, the bill could impact nonprofit organizations (NPOs) that need financial services for international programs by allowing derisking without notice or the requirement of a “valid” reason when based on vaguely worded “national security” considerations.

Controversial "Operation Choke Point" Program Has Ended

Date: 
August 21, 2017

Updated August 23, 2017

In an August 16, 2017 letter to Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that its controversial program dubbed "Operation Choke Point" has officially ended. In the letter, DOJ also repudiated the program, which it described as a "misguided initiative." Significantly, the letter states that DOJ "will not discourage the provision of financial services to lawful industries." 

Operation Choke Point was established during the Obama administration to "choke" payday lenders, gun dealers and other business sectors by forcing banks to end relationships with clients deemed "high-risk," a term also used to describe charities in the Bank Examiners Manual. According to the letter to Congress, under the program, a series of subpoenas were issued in 2013, accompanied by a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guidance document that listed a number of "elevated risk" merchants. An October 19, 2015, article in American Banker documented the impact on money service businesses and correspondent banks, thereby contributing to the global "de-risking" crisis

Senate Hearings Stress Value of International Aid, Highlight Nonprofit Banking Woes

Date: 
May 10, 2017

Two Senate committee hearings in early May highlighted the importance of philanthropy and international aid, as well as the challenges faced by nonprofits in accessing banking services to finance that aid. 

On May 3, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral, International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy held a hearing on "Global Philanthropy and Remittances and International Development." Speakers included InterAction CEO Sam Worthington and leaders in global philanthropy. Worthington described ways the U.S. government could improve partnerships with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including recognizing NGOs as donors, and leveraging private actors to give NGOs a diplomatic space in which to operate. He noted that 70 percent of international development response in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan is performed by NGOs. 

Why Ask Treasury to Fix the De-Risking Problem When They May Have Caused It?

Date: 
October 22, 2015
Author: 
Andrea Hall

Is it any wonder that the U.S. Treasury Department refuses to come to the aid of “de-risked” charities? It appears that they were driving this train all along.

A December 2014 report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform indicates that DOJ and Treasury in fact had a hand in the current de-risking crisis that’s shutting humanitarian aid groups out of the financial system. 

De-Risking Creates Unintended Consequences for Global Poor

Date: 
November 23, 2015

Efforts to curb money laundering and illicit terrorist financing have had unintended negative consequences internationally, in particular for people and organizations in poor countries via remittances, correspondent banking and humanitarian aid. More transparency, greater data and a stronger risk-based approach (RBA) are needed, according to a new report from The Center for Global Development, Unintended Consequences of Anti-Money Laundering Policies for Poor Countries.

Anti-money laundering and combating of the financing of terror policies (AML/CFT) have created pressure for institutions to be uniformly risk-averse. As a result of mixed messages and imprecise guidelines from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), along with a chilling effect from enforcement actions and fines on large financial institutions, banks are engaging in “de-risking” by ceasing to engage in any activity with organizations or individuals that a seen to be higher risk. 

Nonprofits in Search of Financial Access: Real Problems, Potential Solutions

Event Date: 
May 11, 2017

Nonprofits around the world are having difficulty accessing banking services. U.S. and other countries’ financial regulations, rooted in a comprehensive counter-terror finance regime, and the ever-shifting political landscape set the stage for financial institutions around the globe to continually re-evaluate their risk profiles. As a result, accounts are closed or never opened, wire transfers are delayed and correspondent banking relationships are severed. This, in turn, impacts vital humanitarian aid, development, peacebuilding, human rights, and other programming. 

Two recent reports examine the scope and impacts of this problem. Financial Access for U.S. Nonprofits, by the Charity & Security Network, provides the first empirical data on the issue and sets out a series of recommendations. Tightening the Purse Strings, by the Women Peacemakers Program and Duke Law International Human Rights Clinic, looks at the effects of counter-terrorism finance measures on gender equality and security. 

Recording now available

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