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."
Lessons from Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen suggest that a new approach to terrorism and security threats is needed, according to a briefing from Saferworld, A New War on Terror or a New Approach to Peace?
Shrinking civic space was one of the defining human rights issues of 2015, according to Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to Freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, in his report, 2015: The Year in Assembly and Association Rights. In many parts of the world in 2016, however, that space is largely gone.
Counterterrorism legislation is having a "qualitative impact on the work of peacebuilding organizations, their choices and freedom to choose where they work and with whom," concludes a new report from Conciliation Resources, Proscribing peace: the impact of terrorist listing on peacebuilding programs.
In consortium with Ariadne (the European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights) and the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG), the European Foundation Centre (EFC) has published a report on Challenging the Closing Space for Civil Society, A Practical Starting Point for Funders. The report aims to provide grantmakers, private funders and other non-governmental organizations (NGO) key methods to counteract the growing threats to civil society, including counterterrorism laws and policies.
An absence of inclusive, responsive and accountable governance was a major factor in the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to research by the humanitarian organization Mercy Corps.
In its new report, Investing in Iraq’s Peace: How Good Governance Can Diminish Support for Violent Extremism, Mercy Corps explains that after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, political players fanned the country’s sectarian flames for their own gain. These actions propelled sympathy for armed insurgencies, which “purported to offer marginalized groups an alternative to the corrupt Iraqi government,” the report states.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has released a risk management toolkit to address the challenges and risks associated with counterterrorism measures and their impact on principled humanitarian action. Intended as a reference tool for policy- and decision-makers, it draws on ideas, methods and procedures being used by a number of national and international NGOs and UN agencies in global hot spots.
Because humanitarian needs are often greatest in terrorist-controlled areas, humanitarian actors must be careful of both the criminal and contractual risks presented by counterterrorism measures. The toolkit looks at a variety of approaches including codes of conduct, due diligence, human resource and anti-diversion policies as well as monitoring and evaluation procedures.
Armed conflicts have been the greatest driver of prolonged humanitarian need, according to the Global Humanitarian Overview 2016, a publication of the Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Branch (PRMB) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Crises are becoming more protracted and displacement levels are unprecedented due to the lack of durable political solutions,” the report states, adding that nearly 60 million people, half of them children, have had to flee their homes due to conflict and violence. The crisis in Syria, perhaps the most profound conflict worldwide, is in its fifth year. During 2015, more than 830,000 refugees and migrants fled to Europe, approximately half of them from Syria.