An essay on FATF by the Charity & Security Network’s Kay Guinane is among the 27 guest contributions commissioned by CIVICUS for its State of Civil Society Report 2015 focus on civil society resourcing. “The International Anti-Terrorist Financing System’s Negative Effect on Civil Society Resources” examines the role of FATF in contributing to the global trend of restrictions on civil society. The essay describes the civil society response and advocacy campaigns on FATF, the successes to date and the work that lies ahead.
After draft updates and significant input from the nonprofit organization (NPO) sector, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released its revised Best Practices Paper (BPP) in June 2015. The long-awaited revision incorporates almost all of the changes requested by NPOs with a new emphasis on taking a risk-based approach and avoiding a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme.
This latest BPP revision, which offers guidance on FATF Recommendation 8, on laws relating to NPOs, states at its outset that FATF recognizes “the vital importance of the NPO community in providing charitable services around the world, as well as the difficulty of providing assistance to those in need, often in remote regions.” It also recognizes the efforts of NPOs to promote transparency in their work and “to prevent misuse of the sector by those wishing to support terrorist financing and terrorist organisations.”
There is a growing consensus that laws prohibiting support to listed entities “have contributed to a ‘shrinking space’ for those seeking to establish the conditions conducive to peace.” This is the conclusion of a groundbreaking March 2015 report by the Transnational Institute, Building Peace in Permanent War: Terrorist Listing and Conflict Transformation.
Non-profit organizations (NPOs) most at risk of abuse by terrorists appear to be those engaged in service activities and those that operate in close proximity to an active terrorist threat, according the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) 2014 report, Risk of Terrorist Abuse in Non-Profit Organisations. The goal of the typologies report, as it has come to be known, was to better understand the terrorist threat to the NPO sector as it relates to FATF Recommendation 8 (R8), which directs countries to ensure their laws are adequate to prevent abuse of NPOs by terrorists. NPOs provided extensive input for the report and much of it was incorporated. However, in a letter responding to the report the NPOs also cautioned against extrapolating the case studies to the nonprofit sector globally. Overall, the evidence shows that the incidence of terrorist abuse of NPOs is low.
Barriers to Cross-Border Nonprofit Operations and
The Role of the Financial Action Task Force
Nonprofit organizations – humanitarian, peacebuilding, grantmaking, human rights and more – struggle against daunting obstacles in conflict zones where need is great and risk is high. Increasingly their work is undermined by counterterror bureaucracies that impose unnecessary restrictions on operations. Some restrictive laws are deliberate attempts to suppress political opposition and others are excessive restrictions that do not take into account the ways in which the work of nonprofits could promote greater human security.
Countering violent extremism (CVE) plays a prominent role in the second Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), the State Department’s policy roadmap, released April 28 by Secretary of State John Kerry. While the CVE strategy, as outlined in the report, emphasizes the importance of a free and functioning civil society, it echoes the rhetoric from the February White House Summit on CVE and the September 2014 Presidential Memorandum, which focuses on restrictions imposed by foreign governments and does not address the global impact of U.S. restrictions on civil society. Desptie this, the QDDR presents yet another potential opening to create dialogue around this issue. Read more.
Improvements in peace are ultimately dependent on decreases in corruption, concludes a new report by the Institute for Economics & Peace, Peace and Corruption 2015. Although the report found that keeping corruption under control is essential for building and maintaining peaceful societies, there is no indication of the causal relationship between peace and corruption.
Seventy nonprofit organizations (NPOs) from 28 countries submitted joint comments April 24, 2015 on the draft Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Best Practices Paper (BPP). The comments stressed that the final Best Practices Paper should guide governments on how to take a risk-based and proportional approach to protecting NPOs from terrorist abuse. The Working Group hopes that a consultation process between FATF and the NPO sector can be formalized so that NPOs are not again put in the position of trying to comment in a short time frame on a draft that has not been made publicly available. Read more
Experiences of injustice, rather than economics, drive youth to armed movements, according to a new report by Mercy Corps, Youth & Consequences: Unemployment, Injustice and Violence. According to the report, a growing body of evidence finds no relationship between unemployment and young people’s willingness to engage in or support political violence. Instead, recruitment is driven by factors such as discrimination, corruption, normalized violence, and poor governance. Furthermore, supply-side vocational training risks raising expectations that cannot be satisfied and aggravating perceptions of unfairness, especially where programs fail to target the most marginalized, are manipulated by local elites, or increase vocational skills rather than the supply of jobs.