CIVICUS’s "State of Civil Society Report 2019: The Year in Review" is an urgent, clear call to action for all those who participate in or rely on the work of civil society organizations (CSOs) throughout the world. Noting the increasing criminalization of assistance to migrants as an example, CIVICUS Secretary General Lysa John says civil society confronts a “rising tide of global mean-spiritedness, a public compassion deficit.” She calls for a global campaign to restate and protect the right to humanitarian action, based on a new narrative that is clear on what civil society stands for and envisions ambitious but achievable change.
NGOs & Risk: Managing Uncertainty in Local-International Partnerships is a massive and unprecedented forward step in quantifying and strengthening partnerships between International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and Local/National Non-Governmental Organizations (L/NNGOs) at a time when regulations and security concerns are making humanitarian work increasingly more difficult. Co-authors InterAction and Humanitarian Outcomes, with the support of USAID, explore partnership types, risk ownership and allocation in partnerships, and risk management, and conclude with recommendations for all parties involved with humanitarian work.
In Untangling a Marriage of Convenience: Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, authors Tracey Durner and Danielle Cotter argue that, although anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) efforts have much in common, this melding places “undue burden on the private sector to understand the intent of criminals behind the actual transactions.” Some even contend that “misguided” CFT policies are leading to ineffective, and perhaps even harmful results.
As the humanitarian and financial costs of terrorism continue to increase, the United States Institute for Peace’s (USIP) Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States has issued a new report calling on Congress and all Americans to adopt a bold new paradigm to prevent vulnerabilities and foster peace. The report, Extremism in Fragile States: A New Approach, shifts the focus to prevention. “If we can mitigate the underlying conditions that allow extremism to emerge and spread in these states, the United States will be closer to breaking out of the costly cycle of perpetual crisis response, pushing back against the growing threat of extremism, and positioning itself effectively for strategic engagement with its competitors,” USIP said. (Read more.)
NGO Monitor is a politically motivated organization that maintains close coordination and cooperation with the Israeli government, according to a report issued last year by the Policy Working Group, NGO Monitor: Shrinking Space: Defaming human rights organizations that criticize the Israeli occupation. "It consistently shields and promotes government policies that seek to perpetuate, consolidate and expand Israel's occupation of, and control over, the Palestinian territories," the report states.
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.
Transnational Institute’s March 2018 report, The Globalisation of Countering Violent Extremism Policies, Undermining Human Rights, Instrumentalizing Civil Society, which includes a foreword by United Nations Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, analyzes the globalization of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policies and their institutionalization within three international bodies in particular: the European Union, the United Nations, and the Global Counterterrorism Forum. Researchers Arun Kundnani and Ben Hayes argue that the most problematic practices of CVE frameworks are being globalized. These deeply flawed and controversial elements include the vague and undefined terminology, racial and religious profiling, intrusions into privacy, and lack of transparency from policymakers. When the current CVE policies are stripped of sanitized rhetoric it is clear that these policies operate on surveillance and censorship. As a result, CVE policies shrink the space for civil society.
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.
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 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.