Barriers to Charity

Barriers to Charity Overview

April 26, 2011

Headlines & Opinion




"Terrorism" Toolkit Will Offer Guidance to Charities

July 20, 2009

As counterterrorism measures continue to evolve, the UK Charity Commission has begun collecting information for developing a toolkit for charities on how to deal with terrorism legislation and related measures in their sector.  They are requesting charities and NGOs to submit examples of situations and issues affecting them that the Commission should examine and possibly include in the toolkit.  More information is available from British Overseas NGOs for Development

Treasury Releases Informational Licensing Guidance for Humanitarian NGOs

October 17, 2014

On Oct. 17, 2014 the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released a document titled Guidance Related to the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance by Not for Profit Non-Governmental Organizations.

The two-page document provides some clarification of the status quo without making substantive changes called for by the nonprofit sector or commiting to specific actions OFAC may take to address systemic problems with its licensing system. It does not address the problems the State Department's involvement in licensing creates, including delays and politicization of humanitarian decisions.

In addition, the document clearly states that it is for informational purposes only and does not have the force of law. It does not adderss the needs of development, peacebuilding, human rights or other types of nonprofit programs abroad.

While clarifications from OFAC are welcome, the overall thrust of the document is to restate existing policies and provide assurances that have no legal force.  The most positive view is that it is a good beginning for a dialog between OFAC, the State Department and the nonprofit sector on the next phase of improvements needed.

For background information see U.S. Civil Society Submission to the UN Human Rights Commission, Sept. 15, 2014, describing human rights problems with the licensing system.

CIVICUS Report on State of Civil Society 2014

July 17, 2014

The State of Civil Society Report 2014, released annually by CIVICUS, outlines the global trend of governments limiting civil society organization's power.  This year's report also details the increase in civil unrest and protests occurring around the world.  The report authors attribute this civil unrest to growing trend of the economic elite colluding with politically powerful individuals to make self-serving policies that restrict the space in which non-profits can operate.

Study Examines Counterterrorism Clauses in Grants

May 22, 2014

The Harvard Law School/Brookings Project on Law and Security published a May 2014, An Analysis of Contemporary Counterterrorism-related Clauses in Humanitarian Grant and Partnership Agreement Contracts that takes an in-depth look at donor-imposed counterterrorism obligations on humanitarian organizations.

UK: Muslim Charities 'Disproportionately' Affected by Anti-Terror Laws (Civil Society UK)

May 15, 2014
Kirstey Weakly (Civil Society UK)

From: Kirsty Weakley Civil Society UK, on May 9, 2014

A prominent Muslim charity leader has warned the Charity Commission that scrutiny is falling "disproportionately" on Muslim charities because of counter-terror legislation.

Abdurahman Sharif, operations manager at the Muslim Charities Forum, an umbrella body for Muslim charities, told Civil Society News that since 2001, when new counter-terrorism legislation came to force, charities have been under increased scrutiny.

Report: Protect and Expand Space for Civil Society

March 13, 2014

Reform repressive laws that harm civil society, says a March 2014 report from the Act Alliance and CIDSE. The report cites a growing trend of governments passing laws and regulations that impair civil society groups’ ability to assemble, carry out programs and operate without fear. “Civil society must have space to speak out, to educate and mobilize, in short, to ensure that everyone gets a say in the way their country is run,” said the report.

General License for Nonprofit Programs in Iran Now in Federal Register

February 27, 2014

The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published Iran General Licenses E and F in the Federal Register on Feb. 24, 2014, after first issuing the licenses online on Sept. 10, 2013. License E authorizes nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to carry out humanitarian, reconstruction, environmental conservation projects and human rights and democracy building programs, subject to two limitations: 1.) a single NGO cannot send more than $500,000 in fund transfer per year in support of these activities, and 2.) quarterly reports must be submitted to OFAC.  License F authorizes services in support of professional and sports activities and exchanges between the U.S. and Iran. Full text of the licenses:

US Amb to UN Samantha Power Speaks on Protecting Civil Society Rights Globally

February 25, 2014

On Jan. 23, 2104 Samantha Power, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN spoke at a Ford Foundation gathering on civil society in New York City.

Report: Global Pushback Against Civil Society On Rise

February 23, 2014

“Hostility toward external actors engaged in democracy and rights support has in some places reached shocking new heights,” is the troubling finding of a new report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  In Closing Space: Democracy and Human Rights Support Under Fire, the authors describe the scope, causes, and prospective future actions of disturbing trends in the global pushback against non-governmental organizations (NGOs). And the onerous restrictions on aid and rights groups are not limited to authoritarian regimes, but are being embraced by “a growing number of democratic governments,” the report warns.

The report identifies several methods by which governments limit the abilities of these groups from meeting the needs of the people they serve through regulatory and funding restrictions, harassment, and the widespread targeting of international groups. It further notes that unless there is a stronger, persistent response to these restrictions at the international level, these changes are “likely to persist for the foreseeable future.”

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