For the local humanitarian sector in Somalia to survive, systemic and structural shifts need to be put in place to ensure transparency within the financial system, and open up channels for financial access for local humanitarian actors, according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute, The Challenge of Informality: Counter-terrorism, Bank De-risking and Financial Access for Humanitarian Organisations in Somalia. Read more
Increasing access to secondary education and civic engagement opportunities pulled Somali youth away from supporting violent groups, according to an April 2018 Mercy Corps report, If Youth are Given the Chance.The report assesses the impact of these two common approaches for reducing youths’ level of support for armed violence.
Mercy Corps surveyed over 1,000 young people from violence-affected regions in Somalia -- Somaliland, South Central Somalia, and Puntland. The extremist militant group that acts as a proxy for Al-Qaeda in the volatile Horn of Africa, Al-Shabaab, has sustained a decade-long insurgency there by exploiting the fragility of the nation. The catastrophic aftermath of the recent Mogadishu Bombing (October 14, 2017) showcases Somalia’s vulnerability to violence. The report argues that there is a large pool of exacerbated youth in Somalia that is fresh for recruitment and susceptible to indoctrination.
In 2011, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a landmark study, To Stay and Deliver, which documented practices of humanitarian organizations delivering aid -- particularly in highly insecure environments. The report’s main objective was to propel a shift from humanitarian organizations asking “when do we have to leave” a conflict area to “how do we stay” for those who need us the most.
This Guidance Note from the International Committee of the Red Cross is intended to provide a common understanding across the Movement of the Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) global political agenda and to offer practical guidance. It is not intended to influence P/CVE policies or provide a definition of "violent extremism," nor is it a guide on how to develop P/CVE programs.
Access the Guidance Note: The "Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism" Approach: A Guidance Note for National Societies
According to a new report from the World Bank, the effect derisking varies widely from country to country and does not affect broad categories of clients. The report, The Decline in Access to Correspondent Banking Services in Emerging Markets: Trends, Impacts and Solutions, examined the impact of derisking and found the effect at the macro level to be limited. At the same time, impact at the micro level is often intense, with banks losing access to the international financial system. Read more
To better understand the impact of counterterrorism legislation and legal frameworks on the work of civil society, the Center for Strategic and International Studies created a database of countries' laws defining terrorism and penalties associated with committing or supporting acts of terrorism. Anecdotal evidence suggests that overly broad and vague definitions of terrorism have given governments license to crack down on civil society within the bounds of its laws.
CSIS's ultimate goal is to develop evidence-based solutions that enhance the resilience and sustainability of civil society and broaden constituencies for human rights. The database was developed as a first step in this process. It includes counterterrorism legislation, anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism legislation, criminal codes, NGO laws, and any other relevant domestic legislation that bears on the way the country defines terrorism and punishes those responsible for terrorist acts. CSIS is particularly interested in capturing how counterterrorism laws infringe on fundamental human rights, including freedom of assembly, association, and/or expression. This information will be used to develop recommendations to safeguard the legitimate space for peaceful civil society actors, while addressing the real threat of terrorism.
Access the resource: Aligning Security with Civic Space
A new report from the Human Security Collective and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law examines the drivers of the global trend known as "de-risking" as it relates to nonprofit organizations (NPOs).
Inordinate delays in cash transfers, onerous due diligence requirements, inability to open bank accounts and arbitrary closure of bank accounts are all components of de-risking. The report, At the Intersection of Security and Regulation: Understanding the Drivers of "De-risking" and the Impact on Civil Society Organizations, examines these practices an looks at how regulations on money laundering and terrorist financing "permeate policymaking, influencing institutions (perversely, at times) and negatively impacting humanitarian and development work." Read more
In July 2016, Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, visited the United States on an official mission to assess the civil society’s freedoms of assembly and association. While regarding the United States as “a nation of ...resilience,” Kiai stressed its current struggle “to live up to its ideals on a number of important issues.”
Kiai’s findings were largely unsurprising. He pinpointed the issue of racial, social and economic inequality as the most critical when assessing assembly and association rights in the U.S.
“Racism and the exclusion, persecution and marginalization that come with it, affect the enabling environment for the exercise of association and assembly rights,” Kiai said.
Additionally, Kiai noted that economic inequality, unnecessarily militarized policing at some peaceful protests, intimidation of activists, lack of accountability for rights violations, disproportionate counter-terrorism measures, and increasing corporate power also largely influences and constraints civil society in America).
Country Visit: United States Of America (A/HRC/35/28/Add.2)
In August 2017, Chatham House’s International Security Department and International Law Programme issued a report -- Recommendations for Reducing Tensions in the Interplay Between Sanctions, Counterterrorism Measures and Humanitarian Action -- that identifies concrete ways for all stakeholders to address the issue.
Often, sanctioned or terrorist-designated groups control areas of humanitarian need. The legal prohibitions regarding these groups can include incidental payments that humanitarian actors may need to make in order to operate. Continuous engagement between the international, state, banking and humanitarian sectors is critical to alleviating the tension, the report states. It asserts that systematically adopted exemptions in UN and EU sanctions regimes are the most effective way to ensure that restrictions do not apply to humanitarian action. Currently, only one conflict-related UN Security Council sanctions regime includes this type of exemption.
"The world has witnessed an alarming rise in restrictions placed on civil society actors to curtail their space and operations, impeding upon the realization of their rights to the freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly - frequently in the name of countering terrorism and protecting national security, among other drivers," according to a March 2018 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Counterterrorism Measures and Civil Society: Changing the Will, Finding the Way. ( Read more)