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November 19, 2014

(Updated) The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) approved a “terrorist” list of 83 groups on Nov. 15, 2014 that ranges from armed terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to American and European Muslim humanitarian and rights groups, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS).

October 28, 2014

The Charity & Security Network released a statement on Oct. 28, 2014 that analyzes the Department of Treasury's Oct. 17, 2014 Guidance Related to the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance by Not-for-Profit Non-Governmental Organizations and concludes that "much more needs to be done to address U.S. legal restrictions on nonprofit organizations responding to humanitarian crises." Noting that the Guidance states that it has no legal force, the Network notes that it is "mostly clarification of current policy, rather than an effort to address systemic problems."  The Network calls for more dialog on the issue with a representative group of nonprofits that addresses licensing barriers for both humanitarian and nonprofits engaged in peacebuilding support and other important activities.

October 24, 2014

On Oct. 17, 2014 the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released  Guidance Related to the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance by Not for Profit Non-Governmental Organizations, intended to provide clarification for nonprofits seeking licenses for activities that would otherwise be prohibited by economic sanctions programs. The document states it “does not have the force of law” and does not include key proposals made by nonprofits, such as clear standards for nonprofit licenses and timelines for decisions on license applications.  It does not address the needs of development, peacebuilding, human rights or other types of nonprofit programs abroad.  The licensing process has been criticized by nonprofits for being slow and non-transparent.  The Guidance is a step in the right direction but more will need to be done to address problems nonprofits have experienced, most glaringly seen in the Somalia famine of 2011.

October 17, 2014

The UN has released the report of Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on freedoms of peaceful assembly and of assocation, that "addresses concerns about the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the context of multilateral organizations," generally defined as groups made of up of three or more countries.  The key finding is that "mulitaleral institutions find themeslves caught between civil society's demands for real civic participation and inclusiveness and pushback from Governments which are uncomfortable with, or are threated by, citizen involvement."  The Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) recommendations for anti-terrorist financing regulation are criticized for creating a "wave of new restrictions worldwide on funding for civil society." Kiai cites FATF as an example of multilateral organizations that poes a "serious, disproportinate and unfair threat to those who have no connection with terrorism, includnig civil society organizations."

September 26, 2014

The comprehensive UN Security Council Resolution 2178 Condemning Violent Extremism,  Underscoring Need to Prevent Travel, Support for Foreign Fighters, passed on Sept. 24, 2014 under Chapter VII, making compliance mandatory for UN member states. It requires them to take a number of steps to address the problem created by 13,000 foreign fighters from over 80 countries that have joined terrorist groups, including travel restrictions, criminal prosecutions, surveillance and more. It specifies that these measures must be consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law.  UNSR 2178 also highlights the role civil society can play in addressing violent extremism and its drivers, noting that solutions must be comprehensive and not just law enforcement oriented.  However, the former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and countering terrorism, Prof. Martin Scheinin, posted a blog criticizing the Resolution as overly vague and broad, potentially opening the door to abuse by governments seeking to suppress human rights or political opposition.