A new report prepared for the United Nations (UN) Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia looks at the effects of sanctions encountered by those delivering humanitarian aid in Syria.
The financial access problems faced by nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are a significant part of the findings from a workshop hosted last summer by the World Bank and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS). The report, Stakeholder Dialogue on De-risking: Findings and Recommendations, summarizes the main findings of the May 31-June 1 meeting as well as the recommendations made by participants. These recommendations are simply a reflection of the discussion rather than any endorsement by the World Bank or ACAMS.
Regardless of how well-conceived and implemented, risk management cannot eliminate risk; "it only reduces the likelihood of its occurrence, and mitigates against the potential consequences," explains a new guidance note from Humanitarian Outcomes and InterAction, Residual Risk Acceptance: An Advocacy Guidance Note.
A federal lawsuit alleging alleging bank "derisking" of charity accounts based on Arab ethnicity was unsuccessful, as the jury found in favor of the bank. Life for Relief and Development v. Bank of America, NA, was tried in August 2016 in federal district court in Detroit.
The KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development (“KindHearts”) litigation against the Treasury Department (“Treasury”) represents judicial recognition of the danger of counterterrorism measures gone too far.
The U.S. government maintains two lists containing entities (State's Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) & Treasury's Specially Designated Nationals (SDN)) it believes engage in terrorist activity. It is illegal to provide these groups with material support which is defined broadly in the law to include tangible goods like food or clothing, medical services, and training in conflict mediation.
But the laws designed to starve the terrorists also make it nearly impossible for humanitarian actors to reach or offer assistance to civilians living in territory controlled by a blacklisted group. That means that in conflict zones or natural disaster areas where these groups are active, providing medical services or distributing non-medicinal necessities such as clean water, tents, blankets, food can be prohibited.
In an April 2016 report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a variety of recommendations for “the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society.” The report came in response to a request from the Human Rights Council, which recognized the vital role of civil society in encouraging good governance and contributing to the creation of peaceful democratic societies.
A February 2016 policy brief from the Global Center on Cooperative Security, Countering Violent Extremism and Development Assistance: Identifying Synergies, Obstacles, and Opportunities, indicates that there may be significant benefit to be obtained from cooperation and coordination of security and development initiatives, but notes that efforts to do so may not be without challenges.
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 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."