Abstract: Understanding Humanitarian Exemptions

May 11, 2016

Principled humanitarian action can be restricted by sanctions in regimes in a number of ways, notably via UN sanctions programs and state-level laws criminalizing the provision of material support of terrorism. When humanitarian organizations need to pay taxes, registration fees or checkpoint fees to access populations in need, they may run afoul of these laws if they are paid to a terrorist organization or its affiliate.

Narrowing the CVE Agenda Will be Crucial in Fight Against Terror

March 16, 2016

Narrowing the countering violent extremism (CVE) agenda, investing in conflict prevention, respecting humanitarian law and limiting the use of force will all be crucial components of governments' work of fighting terrorism, according to a new report from the International Crisis Group, Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State

The term “violent extremism” is often ill-defined and open to misuse. When it is identified as the main threat to stability, governments "risk downplaying other sources of fragility, delegitimising political grievances and stigmatising communities as potential extremists," the report states. Both governments and donors must think carefully what to label CVE, the report notes, adding, "Re-hatting as CVE activities to address 'root causes', particularly those related to states’ basic obligations to citizens – like education, employment or services to marginalised communities – may prove short-sighted." Preventing crises will be much more powerful in containing violent extremism than CVE, the report asserts. "Nudging leaders toward more inclusive and representative politics, addressing communities’ grievances and measured responses to terrorist attacks usually make sense." 

Shrinking Civic Space Defining Human Rights Issue of 2015

March 3, 2016

Shrinking civic space was one of the defining human rights issues of 2015, according to Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to Freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, in his report, 2015: The Year in Assembly and Association Rights. In many parts of the world in 2016, however, that space is largely gone.

Partner Vetting System: Summary and Analysis

February 11, 2016

The Partner Vetting System (PVS) is a pilot program created to vet individuals in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and for-profit entities who apply for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contracts and grants, to ensure that USAID-funded activities are not inadvertently providing support to entities associated with terrorism. Under the PVS pilot program, the U.S. government requires many grant applicants to submit detailed personal information on key employees and subcontractors to USAID for comparison with intelligence databases.

New Report for Funders: Challenging the Closing Civil Society Space

February 1, 2016

In consortium with Ariadne (the European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights) and the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG), the European Foundation Centre (EFC) has published a report on Challenging the Closing Space for Civil Society, A Practical Starting Point for Funders. The report aims to provide grantmakers, private funders and other non-governmental organizations (NGO) key methods to counteract the growing threats to civil society, including counterterrorism laws and policies.

Good Governance Can Move Iraq Towards Peace

January 21, 2016

An absence of inclusive, responsive and accountable governance was a major factor in the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to research by the humanitarian organization Mercy Corps.

In its new report, Investing in Iraq’s Peace: How Good Governance Can Diminish Support for Violent Extremism, Mercy Corps explains that after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, political players fanned the country’s sectarian flames for their own gain. These actions propelled sympathy for armed insurgencies, which “purported to offer marginalized groups an alternative to the corrupt Iraqi government,” the report states.

Humanitarian Overview Looks Ahead to 2016

December 23, 2015

Armed conflicts have been the greatest driver of prolonged humanitarian need, according to the Global Humanitarian Overview 2016, a publication of the Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Branch (PRMB) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Crises are becoming more protracted and displacement levels are unprecedented due to the lack of durable political solutions,” the report states, adding that nearly 60 million people, half of them children, have had to flee their homes due to conflict and violence. The crisis in Syria, perhaps the most profound conflict worldwide, is in its fifth year. During 2015, more than 830,000 refugees and migrants fled to Europe, approximately half of them from Syria.