Over the past three years, progress has been made with the problem of derisking and the situation has stabilized so that no country is at risk of losing access to international payments services. At the same time, the problem has not yet been resolved, according to a report from the Center for Global Development(CGD), Policy Responses to De-Risking: Progress Report on the CGD Working Group's 2015 Recommendations.
In comments submitted to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Charity & Security Network urges the agency to use the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) as a vehicle for incentivizing banks to provide financial services to nonprofit organizations (NPOs).
A UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has criticized counter-terrorism laws for imposing “chilling effects on the provision of humanitarian aid for people desperately in need of help.” Agnès Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, released her report on August 7th 2018, entitled Saving Lives Is Not A Crime. The paper focuses on the criminalization of humanitarian services and actors due to counter-terrorism activities, anti-migration policies, and the outlawing of sexual and reproductive rights in some countries.
A combination of US counter-terrorist financing law and international sanctions set the stage for humanitarian aid delivery challenges in Syria. On top of that, the largest Syrian banks are sanctioned by the various countries, including the US, and the banking system outside of government control has collapsed. The countries bordering Syria (Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan) present additional challenges in the form of regulatory requirements and financial systems. All of this has created "a complex environment for aid agencies wishing to move funds for humanitarian purposes into the country, or through neighbouring states supporting regional humanitarian efforts," according to a new report from the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute and The Humanitarian Forum, The impact of bank de-risking on the humanitarian response to the Syrian Crisis.
In a study of implementing partners of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department humanitarian assistance projects in four high-risk countries—Syria, Somalia, Haiti and Kenya—the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that most experienced banking access challenges, including denials and delays of fund transfers, problems opening accounts, increased fees and an account closure. Read more
A paper published by the Humanitarian Policy Group of the Overseas Development Institute, A humanitarian sector in debt: Counter-terrorism, bank de-risking and financial access for NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza, reveals the crippling effects that bank derisking has had on local humanitarian and development organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. This study draws on findings from interviews conducted in 2017 - 2018 and investigates the various coping strategies that Palestinian civil society members are using to compensate for lack of financial access and growing debt in a place where humanitarian assistance is crucial.
A guidance manual issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in June 2018 provides a methodology for member states conducting terrorist financing risk assessments. The document, Guidance manual for Member States on terrorist financing risk assessments, notes that terrorist financing needs to be countered in an efficient manner, emphasizing the importance of coordination and cooperation among financial intelligence units, law enforcement entities and intelligence services.
A series of case studies on the implications of bank de-risking for humanitarian non-governmental organizations in four contexts revealed a number of common themes and recommendations. These are set out in a policy brief, Counter-terrorism, bank de-risking and humanitarian response: a path forward.
Transparency, safe harbors and regulatory clarity were the buzzwords of the day at a hearing on derisking, "International and Domestic Implications of De-risking," held June 26 by the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit of the House Financial Services Committee.
For the local humanitarian sector in Somalia to survive, systemic and structural shifts need to be put in place to ensure transparency within the financial system, and open up channels for financial access for local humanitarian actors, according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute, The Challenge of Informality: Counter-terrorism, Bank De-risking and Financial Access for Humanitarian Organisations in Somalia. Read more