Congress Must Investigate Restrictions on Humanitarian Assistance During Somali Famine

May 7, 2013

The Charity & Security Network has sent letters to leaders in the Senate and House calling for hearings to determine how U.S. law contributed to the most deadly famine in the past 25 years by restricting humanitarian assistance during the 2010-2012 crisis in Somalia.  A new study by USAID and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization found a drastic reduction in humanitarian assistance, combined with widespread conflict and drought, contributed to a death rate much higher than previously known.

Congress should investigate how U.S. law restricted humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia, especially children, who made up 52 percent of all fatalities.  It must also look at how the licensing process at the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control failed to effectively work with U.S. charities that wanted to conduct humanitarian operations in south and central Somalia, the areas hardest hit by the crisis, but were unable due to concerns of violating U.S. law.

See: Somalia Crisis Timeline

2013 Report Finds Threats to Civil Society on Rise

May 6, 2013

“A vibrant and independent civil society is an essential ingredient of effective and stable democracy,” the 2013 State of Civil Society report produced by CIVICUS says.  But “in too many cases,” it warns, “the voices of civil society are being stifled and the space in which they can express their views is shrinking.”

Recent years have witnessed a wave of legal barriers, funding restrictions and administrative burdens on civil society organizations.  As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult for these groups “to exist, function, grow and offer their best possible contribution to society.”  With contributions from nearly 50 civil society leaders and experts, including a chapter from Statewatch’s Ben Hayes on the impact of anti-terror finance measures on nonprofits, the 500-page report identifies how the vice is tightening on human rights defenders around the world.

UN Counterterrorism Framework: Key Programs and Tools

May 1, 2013

Terrorism has been on the modern international agenda since 1934, when the League of Nations discussed a draft convention for the prevention and punishment of terrorism. More recently, the United Nations (UN) has introduced a number of robust sanctions and anti-terror programs. These initiatives make up the bulwark of the UN’s efforts, but many were created with little transparency and are routinely criticized for violating fundamental norms of due process and insufficiently respecting human rights.  Other tools, like the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, call on all UN members to undertake measures against terrorism, but to do so “in accordance with the Charter of the UN and the relevant provisions of international law, including international standards of human rights.”

The purpose of this document is to provide basic information about the major pieces of the UN Counterterrorism framework, including UN Security Council Resolutions and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Study Finds Terrorist Listing Inhibits Peace Programs

April 29, 2013

An April 2013 study argues that the terrorist listing process in the U.S., European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) limits the ability of peacebuilders to help mitigate and end violent conflicts around the world. Listing Terrorists: The Impact of Proscription on Third-Party Efforts to Engage Armed Groups in Peace Processes- A Practitioner’s Perspective, by Sophie Haspeslagh, former Head of Policy at Conciliation Resources, discusses how various terrorist listing program

Need to Update Treasury’s Terrorist Listing and Delisting Procedures

April 26, 2013


The U.S. terrorist listing process is designed to cut off funding to terrorists by freezing their funds and banning financial transactions with them. The President designates terrorist groups by Executive Order and authorizes the Treasury Department to list others that support them.   A lack of clear standards, transparency and oversight of the list  has raised serious concerns over the due process rights of those listed and the accuracy of the list itself.

Click Here for a PDF Verison of this Factsheet

Transnational Civil Society Working Gropup on FATF

April 23, 2013

The Charity & Security Network and partner organizations have established the Transnational Civil Society Working Group to monitor and respond to developments concerning civil society related to the activities of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).  With representatives of NGOs from Africa, Australia, Europe and the United States, the Working Group is a global effort to add the voices of civil society to this important discussion.

For more information about the Transnational Working Group or to find out how your organization can join, contact the Charity & Security Network.

Kay's Blog Posts

April 18, 2013

Drone Strikes Hamper Humanitarian Assistance, Increase Risks for Aid Workers

March 23, 2013

The use of drones in counterterrorism operations in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly affecting humanitarian operations and increasing risks to aid workers. Unlike traditional military checkpoints and convoys, aid groups are unable to distance themselves from unannounced drone strikes, necessitating a greater discussion among humanitarian groups on how to deal with the impact and a greater focus by U.S. policymakers on how to mitigate it.

“The public debate, rightly so, has focused on the transparency and targeting of drones, but for humanitarians, there are a whole set of much more specific concerns that we don’t necessarily have answers on and ought to be thinking about,” says Naz Modirzadeh, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School.

The increasing use of weaponized unmanned vessels, she says, raises "fundamental questions about how the humanitarian community will engage with states in order to ensure that lifesaving supplies reach the civilian population."

Today's Challenges for International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

March 10, 2013

Achieving greater protection for civilians in armed conflicts is dependent on the respect, implementation and enforcement of international humanitarian law (IHL), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says. In a special feature on its website, the ICRC examines challenges to the application and respect of IHL in many of today’s conflicts between government forces and non-state armed groups. These include having all parties to a conflict know and respect the rules of IHL, and that the formal listing of some groups as “terrorists” by governments and multilateral bodies has significant implications for humanitarian engagement and often impedes humanitarian action.