New Study: UK Humanitarian Aid in the Age of Counterterrorism: Perceptions and Reality

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April 13, 2015

In March 2015 the Humanitarian Policy Group released UK Humanitarian Aid in the Age of Counterterrorism: Perceptions and Reality, which explains the tensions between British international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) and other stakeholders regarding the negative impact of counterterrorism laws on their aid work. These nonprofit organizations, which aim to provide relief to the most vulnerable in high-risk conflict zones, struggle to effectively carrying out their tasks due to government and donor country counterterrorism efforts.

The study highlights several factors that have brought critical attention to the issue:

  • The increasing operations of the British INGOs in response to escalating conflicts in high-risk zones such as Syria and Somalia
  • The limited access to monetary services and funds, especially for British Muslim INGOS
  • The probable increase of power of the Charity Commission
  • The developing discourse between the UK government and British INGOs on counterterrorism measures

The report provides perspectives and challenges from several stakeholders, including UK INGOs, banks, governments, and the Charity Commission. Several British INGOs are concerned about the restricted access to financial services due to the potential abuse of funds for armed terrorist groups, which has led to decreasing aid efforts within conflict zones. Many UK banks are focused on the INGO’s exposure to risk and close accounts to prevent this. The Charity Commission struggles to maintain a balance between ensuring that charities comply with laws as well as helping charities to comply. Governmental departments strive to establish basic universal standards that INGOs should adhere to.

While the article concludes that it is difficult to assess the impact of counterterrorism measures on INGOs with the limited information available, it asserts that all parties must work together to address the multiple terrorist threats against the UK and provides several recommendations to facilitate this collaboration. These recommendations include allowing third parties to access INGO’s performance according to certain standards and improving counsel for bank risk managers on dealing with INGO clients.


This study can be found here.