Charity & Security Network Calls Treasury Guidance for Humanitarian NGOs a Disappointment

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Date: 
October 28, 2014

The Charity & Security Network released a statement on Oct. 28, 2014 that analyzes the Department of Treasury's Oct. 17, 2014 Guidance Related to the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance by Not-for-Profit Non-Governmental Organizations and concludes that "much more needs to be done to address U.S. legal restrictions on nonprofit organizations responding to humanitarian crises." Noting that the Guidance states that it has no legal force, the Network notes that it is "mostly clarification of current policy, rather than an effort to address systemic problems."  The Network calls for more dialog on the issue with a representative group of nonprofits that addresses licensing barriers for both humanitarian and nonprofits engaged in peacebuilding support and other important activities.

Specifically, the statement notes that the OFAC Guidance:

  • does have the force of law, offering little protection for groups that rely on it
  • is limited to humanitarian assistance
  • politicizes humanitarian aid by making license approval subject to foreign policy considerations
  • does not address the role of the State Department in the licensing process
  • does not address systemic problems, such as lack of clear criteria for licensing, timelines for decisionmaking or even a requirement that license applicants get contact information for the official handlign their request
  • continues unrealistic policy of requiring case-by-case advance approval to make minimal, incidental payments necessary to access civilians in need

The statment notes that the Guidance represents the "the weakest of the several policy options that were available to it."  Going forward, the Network urges the administration to:

  • support the Humanitarian Assistance Faciliation Act
  • issue an Executive Order and Treasury General License setting out clear licensing criteria and establishing timelines for decisionmaking
  • discontinue the practice of routinely cancelling the humanitarian exemption in sanctions programs
  • issue a Statement of Licensing Policy that recognizes the presumption in favor of humanitarian assistance that is founded in international humanitarian law.