CGD Looks at Techology to Solve Derisking

February 22, 2018

While nonprofit organizations advocate for policy changes to address the global phenomenon of derisking, financial institutions are creating cutting-edge technologies to speed and improve their compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.

A new study from the Center for Global Development assesses six new technologies and their potential to solve the derisking problem. Fixing AML: Can Technology Help Address the De-Risking Dilemma?  examines machine learning, biometrics, big data, know your customer (KYC) utilities, distributed ledger technology (DLT)/blockchain, and legal entity identifiers (LEI). Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that could cut down on false alerts and identify undetected illicit finance techniques. Biometrics are much more robust than passwords or tokens and generally easier to use. Big data refers to datasets that are high in volume, velocity and variety and their applications offer more scalable storage capacity and processing. They also allow different types of data to be stored in one place, so compliance staff spend less time gathering information from disparate sources. They can greatly expand the range and scope of information available for KYC and suspicious transaction investigations. (Read more)

ODI Report: Impact of Derisking on Humanitarian Response in Yemen

February 13, 2018

As bank "derisking" persists, areas of dire humanitarian need around the globe are hardest hit. In the case of Yemen, individuals, nonprofit organizations (NPOs) and businesses alike have been adversely affected by this global trend. 

A new study from the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Counterterrorism, de-risking and the humanitarian response in Yemen: a call for action, examines the impact of derisking on humanitarian organizations in Yemen, and the degree of financial access afforded these groups.In Yemen, bank derisking has prevented Yemeni non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from receiving much-needed funds for humanitarian assistance, especially following the onset of war in March 2015, the study found. Derisking is contributing to the war economy and corruption in the country. 

Given the fact that Yemen represents on of the world's largest humanitarian crises, the study highlights the urgent need to address the adverse effects of derisking in the country. 

The study makes four recommendations to alleviate this problem, including facilitating the flow of funds through a proportional approach to counter-terrorist financing (CFT), lifting the economic sanctions on Yemen, revitalizing Yemen's central bank, and revisiting American and European CFT policies. 

Read the full report

Report Examines Better Ways to Engage with Muslim Humanitarian Sector

February 6, 2018

A new report, The Muslim Humanitarian Sector: A Review for Policy Makers and NGO Practitioners, seeks to better understand the barriers to and opportunities for greater cooperation with the Muslim aid and development sector. 

Researchers from the British Council and Georgia State University, working under the auspices of the EU Commission's Bridging Transatlantic Voices Initiative,  convey insight gained on the history and fugure of engagement between Muslim groups and their counterparts in the mainstream international aid and development sector. 

According to the report, a global concensus has emerged that faith-based organizations are in a special position to address "shared global challenges rooted in problems of political conflict, violence, and extremism." Coupled with this are long-standing gaps in communication, knowledge, and practice "between conventional actors and their lesser-known counterparts in Muslim majority contexts" that reduce the capacity for the "effective implementation of policy strategies addressing the nexus of aid, development, and security in the greater MENA region." The current conditions in the region, including political conflict, humanitarian need, and aid flows make this an even more pressing issue. 

Abstract: How Derisking Impacts Women Peacebuilders in the MENA Region

December 19, 2017

Women peacebuilders from around the world have increasing voiced concern about the impact of the derisking phenomenon. To learn more, Women Peacemakers Program held a regional consultation in Lebanon in January 2017 that was attended by 12 civil society organizations focused on peacebuilding and women's rights. 

The resulting consultation report, Women Peacebuilders from the MENA Region Discuss Shrinking Civil Society Space Due to Countering Terrorism Financing, provides brief background information on the issue of counter-terrorism financing, its impacts on women's civil society organizing the MENA region, and key recommendations formulated by the consultation's participants. 

Read the report.

Financial Inclusion Conference Issues Report

December 19, 2017

On October 2, 2017, Charity & Security Network joined more than 60 members of civil society, government, intergovernmental organizations, academics and the financial sector in The Hague to discuss the impact of countering terrorism financing regulations on shrinking civil society space and to develop policy recommendations. 

The meetings, cosponsored by C&SN, the Women Peacemakers Program, Duke Law International Human Rights Clinic, Human Security Collective and Transnational Institute, resulted in a new conference report, Financial Inclusion for Freedom and Security. The report identifies five core areas of impact, including reduced space for women's rights organizing; impacts on programs, partners and beneficiaries; financial exclusion; prohibitive costs of due diligence and other administrative burdens; and adaptive measures affecting the safety and security of women's rights organizing. The report also summarizes C&SN's February 2017 financial access report and the meeting's discussion around it. 

The conference report sets out a series of recommendations, including, but not limited to creating long-term dialogue with the financial and government sectors, reasonable risk sharing, and donor investment in direct funding mechanisms. 

Read the report

Abstract: Global Terrorism Index 2017

November 21, 2017

The total number of deaths due to terrorism is down 13% over last year, according to the Global Terrorism Index 2017, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Four of the five countries most impacted by terrorism - Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Nigeria - saw 33% fewer deaths, and terrorism deaths attributed to Boko Haram were down 80%. At the same time, ISIL killed 50% more people in 2016, making it their deadliest year with over 9,000 deaths, primarily in Iraq. 

At the same time, more countries experienced at least one death from terrorism, more than at any time in the past 17 years, the report notes. 106 nations experienced at least one terrorist attack. Smaller increases in terrorism occurred in South Sudan, Turkey, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

2016 was the most deadly year for terrorism in OECD member countries since 1988, not counting the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Since 2014, there has been a general shift towards simpler attacks against non-traditional and softer civilian targets. 

Read the full report. 

Abstract: Why Shrinking Civil Society Space Matters

November 16, 2017

A new report from the European Foundation Centre and the Funders Initiative for Civil Society examines how the trend of shrinking civil society space affects development funders and actors. The report, Why Shrinking Civil Society Space Matters, is intended to develop better insight into the issue and to increase awareness of the threats to civil society and to discuss approaches that can enable a more effective response to reverse this trend. 

According to the report, a healthy civil society is key to increasing equality and reducing poverty in development work. The disturbing trend in restrictions on civil society's ability to operate, especially in developing countries, stems from a range of government measures, including constraints on freedom of assembly to imposing excessive red tape and limitations on foreign sources of funding. This can stifle the ability of INGOs to support local organizations, engage in advocacy work and carry out programs. 

Report Examines FATF Recommendations as Vehicle for Closing Civil Society Space in Nigeria

August 24, 2017

Prior to its revision in 2016, the Financial Action Task Force's Recommendation 8 referred to nonprofit organizations as "particularly vulnerable" to terrorist abuse. As a result, many countries implemented laws and policies designed to curb this perceived risk. As a result, NPOs have faced increased scrutiny and legal constraints, shrinking the space for charitable work. 

A report from Spaces for Change in Nigeria, Closing Spaces for Civil Society and Democratic Engagement in Nigeria,  examines the impact of Recommendation 8 on civil society in that country. The first part, Beyond FATF: Trends, Risks and Restrictive Regulation of Non-profit Organisations in Nigeria, is the product of systematic review of that country's legal framework for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism to understand the connection between Nigeria's implementation of Recommendation 8 and shrinking space for civil society there. The second part, Closing Spaces for Civic Engagement and Civil Society in Nigeria, assesses the effectiveness of these policies and created a database of closed spaces, highlighting 100 incidents of overbroad application of these laws. 

Report: Impact of Banking Restrictions on UK NGOs

August 24, 2017

Like their American counterparts, British NGOs working in or near areas where non-state armed groups are active increasingly face restrictions on their access to the financial system, according to a 2017 report from Chatham House, Humanitarian Action and Non-state Armed Groups: The Impact of Banking Restrictions on UK NGOs. This may include delayed transfers, the freezing of funds, and closure of bank accounts. 

The report, like many before it, tie the perception of NGOs as high-risk to the Financial Action Task Force's Recommendation 8. In addition, the global financial crisis has made banks subject to tougher regulatory and enforcement regimes, decreasing their appetite for risk. It notes, "Humanitarian NGOs generally accept the need for regulation and due diligence, but the current weight of compliance demands by their banking partners is often seen as disproportionate, resulting in a need to spend donor money on additional staff and due diligence tools, increased administration costs, aid delivery and financial transfer delays, and in some circumstances the closure of programmes to which funding cannot be delivered." 

Civic Space Compromised in the Americas

June 21, 2017

In many countries in the Americas, people's rights to organize, protest or speak out are severely compromised, according to a new report from the CIVICUS, Charity & Security Network, the Caribbean Policy Development Centre, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (REDLAD), and the Rendir Cuentas initiative, Civic Space in the Americas

The report, which draws on research submitted to the CIVICUS Monitor, notes that civic space is seriously restricted in more than one-third of countries in the Americas. Obstacles to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association include threats to personal safety, denial of the right to protest, and surveillance and censorship. Between June 2016 and May 2017, the most serious abuses and violations included disruptions of protests through excessive force, violence against journalists (including killings) and censorship of the media, detention and criminalization of activists, and the introduction of legislative restrictions on civic space freedoms (including 19 such bills in the U.S.). Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women, LGBTI people, migrants and other minority groups were particularly affected.