Barriers to Charity
Safeguarding Humanitarianism in Armed Conflict: A Call for Reconciling International Legal Obligations and Counterterrorism Measures in the United States
A June 2012 report by the Charity & Security Network- Safeguarding Humanitarianism in Armed Conflict: A Call for Reconciling International Legal Obligations and Counterterrorism Measures in the United States- examines how the international humanitarian obligations of the U.S. conflict with domestic counterterrorism measures when applied to charities seeking to aid civilians in areas of armed conflict. While the negative impact of these measures has been criticized as a matter of policy and subjected to Constitutional challenges, significantly less attention has been paid to how they stack up against the international humanitarian obligations of the U.S. This report fills that gap.
Read the report online (no download necessary) or
After a review of U.S. counterterrorism laws impacting charities, the report explains the legal framework of international humanitarian law (IHL), focusing on provisions that address civilian relief operations during situations of armed conflict. It then analyses how current U.S. counterterrorism laws and enforcement policies, particularly the broad prohibition on material support to terrorism, do not adequately incorporate these provisions and are inconsistent with humanitarian principles and obligations. CSN urges the U.S. to work with the nonprofit sector to better incorporate international humanitarian law principles and concepts into U.S. law and enforcement policy.
Headlines & Opinion
- VIDEO: Aid Experts Discuss Challenges Working in Conflict Zones with Terrorist Groups
- EU: Time to Examine Counterterrorism Policies
- Why Fight Terrorism with One Hand Tied Behind our Back?
- Internal Investigator Finds that UN Counterterror Measures Chill Humanitarian Aid
- Provision that Criminalizes Conflict Resolution Training Ignored by Senate Committee
- House Judiciary Committee Discussion of Humanitarian Exemption to Material Support
- Americans Support Foreign Policy that Targets Terrorism's Roots
- Saudis No Example for Rules on Charities
- Diverse Group of NGOs Meet with Obama Admin on New Rules for Charities
- Amendment to State Secrets Laws would Expand Barriers to Humanitarian Aid
- Heavy Sentences in Holy Land Trial Send Chilling Message to US NGOs
- Holy Land Conviction Raises Concerns and Questions for US NGOs
- IMPACT: Counterterrorism Measure on Charities and Donors After 9/11 (printable handout)
- CSN Report: How the Work of Charities Counters Terror
- Terrorism "Toolkit" for Charities
- Legal Rulings Diminish Charitable Giving and Impact
- Recommendations to Obama Transition Team
- Book: Countering the Politics of Fear
- Book: Regulation of the Voluntary Sector
- Book: Civil Society Under Strain
- Report on State of the Humanitarian System: Politicization of Aid Disrupts Aid Delivery
- Friend Not Foe- Opening Spaces for Civil Society Engagement to Prevent Violent Extremism
- UN Report shows that Security Measures that Restrict Humanitarian Access Hurt Civilians
- NGOs Threatened by Harsh Legal Constraints
- Laws Stifle NGO Activity and Debate on Policy Matters
- Americans Adverse to Government Supporting Muslim Charities
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
Civil society groups around the world have seen an increase in restrictions on their vital work, through legislative measures, regulations and in some cases violence. Governments from regions including Africa, Asia and the Middle East have created barriers to the work of legitimate nonprofits seeking to empower citizens and improve society. Often passed under the guise of preventing terrorism, these laws and regulations represent a significant step backwards for global human rights.
Analysis: Expert at Center for Security Studies in Zurich Calls for Changes in U.S. Driven Counterterrorism Policies for Charities
An analysis in the October 2013 issue of the Center for Security Studies’ Policy Perspectives by Swiss mediation expert Owen Frazer says the approach to dealing with misuse of charities by terrorist organizations has been misguided, and “has lost sight of the larger goal of preventing terrorism.” He calls for “a more proportionate, nuanced approach to the regulation of NPOs which is based on sound analy
Zambian civil society groups are asking President Michael Sata to suspend implementation of a controversial 2009 Zambian law on nonprofit organizations (NPOs), which was introduced by former President Rupiah Bandas. The law requires all NPOs in Zambia to register by Nov. 11, 2013, regardless of size or capacity, and imposes heavy penalties, including jail time, for noncompliance. The law also inserts the government into operational decisions of NPOs and requires their activities to be aligned with the government’s development policy.
A new report by CIVICUS, an international civil society network, has documented over 400 cases of abuse of the civil society sector in over 80 countries. Global Trends on Civil Society Restrictions highlights abuse of nonprofits by legislative restrictions, forced shut-down of nonprofits and the assassination and imprisonment of civil society workers.
The impact of counterterrorism measures on humanitarian action will be the focus of a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) event on Oct. 28.
Based on the findings of a joint report recently produced by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Norwegian Refugee Council, the event, featuring the UN’s Valerie Amos and InterAction’s President Sam Worthington, will examine how overbroad security measures restrict the ability of humanitarian groups from effectively responding to emergencies. This event is open to the public and will be webcast.
Counterterrorism measures like the Patriot Act are having a direct and adverse impact on humanitarian action and on how aid and aid workers are perceived, according to a new study produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The study examined CTMs in the U.S., European Union and several other countries and determined that they unduly restrict aid programs, increase risks for aid workers, limit funding sources, and undermine partnerships with local NGOs.
Among the recommendations of the study are that: counterterrorism policies should include exceptions for humanitarian action, they should exclude minor transactions and other arrangements necessary for humanitarian access; and countries should not promote policies that inhibit engagement and negotiation with armed groups to help deliver aid to civilians caught in harm's way.