The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental policy making body that sets counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering (CFT/AML) standards used in nearly 180 countries. Jurisdictions undergoing the FATF’s compliance evaluation process are strongly encouraged to introduce specific laws and financial regulations, including Recommendation 8 (R8), on the operations and activities of non-profit organizations (NPOs), or risk serious economic consequences that could affect foreign aid, remittances, and trade.
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.”
In March 2013, the Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) released an audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the DOJ’s National Security Division collaborative efforts to counter terrorist financing (CFT). Along with making an unsupported claim that terrorists commonly use donations to charities as a revenue source, the audit touches on areas of the FBI and DOJ’s CFT efforts that are less commonly reported on, including the terrorist designation process and interagency Terrorist Financing
In March 2013, the Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) released an audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the DOJ’s National Security Division collaborative efforts to counter terrorist financing (CFT). Along with making an unsupported claim that terrorists commonly use donations to charities as a revenue source, the audit touches on areas of the FBI and DOJ’s CFT efforts that are less commonly reported on, including the terrorist designation process and interagency Terrorist Financing Working Group. It lays out eight recommendations for improvement, including identifying ways “that the FBI could strengthen its terrorist financing program through improved case management practices” and more specialized training for senior staff positions.
Often treating standards found in international law as an inconvenience and impediment since 9/11, the United States is undermining the foundations upon which international humanitarian law (IHL) rests, according to a November 2012 paper by Morris Davis of Howard University. Undermining International Humanitarian Law examines the development and the objectives of modern IHL, particularly the ones designed to limit the effects of war on civilians and other non-combatants. He argues that the U.S.’ failure to continue to meet these humanitarian obligations over the last decade is weakening the country’s legal and moral authority, and argues that the U.S. should reaffirm its commitment to IHL to achieve its goal of peace and security.
Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was the largest Islamic charity in the U.S. until the Bush administration shut it down three months after 9/11. HLF had been legally operating for over a decade before its designation and closure in December 2001. Its former officials were convicted of providing material support for terrorism on retrial in November 2008, and received sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years.
A combination of conflict, food shortages, and drought in regions of Northern Africa has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis. In the Sahel, armed conflicts in Mali and Chad have displaced thousands and placed additional strain on overfull refugee camps. After a famine occurred last year in Horn of Africa, re-stabilization has been tenuous as conflict and protracted food insecurity threatens to undo the progress made by aid groups.
National security measures in the U.S. negatively impact the speed and mobility of humanitarian relief in the wake of disasters. Deadly Combination: Disaster, Conflict and the U.S. Material Support Law by the Charity & Security Network considers two cases: The 2011 famine in Somalia and the summer 2010 floods in Pakistan. In both cases, by giving priority to military objective, the U.S. impaired effective aid delivery by humanitarian organizations, exacerbating the hardship caused by the disasters.
The politicization of disaster response in conflict zones obstructs timely and effective aid delivery and also jeopardizes the safety of aid workers. The current U.S. government response to disasters occurring alongside terrorist organizations is, at best, a 'wink and nod' gesture that allows for limited access for humanitarian groups (and no legal protections) and, at worst, a blanket ban on any humanitarian operation.