This year, the Charity & Security Network stepped up its advocacy and pushback against the growing Islamophobia within the current U.S. administration.
In early May, as a follow-up to the November 2017 World Humanitarian Action Forum in London, C&SN sponsored an event on bank derisking of nonprofits at CSIS as the U.S. launch of a series of reports published by The Humanitarian Forum, Overseas Development Institute and London School of Economics. The event was followed by a series of high-level meetings at U.S. Treasury, the Department of State and congressional offices describing the research.
C&SN participated in a June 26 congressional hearing titled “International and Domestic Implications of De-risking,”held by the subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit of the House Financial Services Committee. Sue Eckert, the lead author on C&SN’s 2017 report on Financial Access for U.S. Nonprofits, testified at the hearing where she focused her evidence on the C&SN report’s findings. This hearing and the other testimonies indicated a growing congressional awareness of derisking.
At the same time, a July 11 hearing in the National Security Committee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reminded C&SN of the work still needed in order to pushback against misinformation. In response to misleading testimony, Kay sent a letter to the committee on August 14, saying such statements “inaccurately and unfairly portray the U.S. charitable sector as a source of terrorist financing. Such statements undermine the important work U.S. NPOs do around the world and fail to recognize the high levels of transparency, oversight and good governance they employ.”
Upon learning that Treasury planned to update its 2015 National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, C&SN submitted suggested changes to the agency. The comments recommended a methodology for assessing risk to the NPO sector based on the revised FATF Recommendation 8 and guidance. Treasury’s updated Risk Assessment was published in late December.
In the spring, C&SN learned of several lawsuits filed in U.S. courts against NPOs that receive USAID funding. Lawyers with an anti-Muslim agenda have been using a whistleblower provision in a U.S. anti-fraud law, asserting spurious allegations, to penalize organizations seeking to provide life-saving resources to individuals in the West Bank and Gaza. These suits have fueled a sense of insecurity and uncertainty for NPOs operating under USAID grant partnerships. In response, C&SN has doubled down on its efforts to support the civil society sector – partnering with other NPOs, releasing information briefs, hosting webinars and publicly condemning this witch hunt.
Also in 2018, C&SN supported two bills that received bipartisan support in Congress. The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act, promoted by a broad coalition of peacebuilders, passed the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall. The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, coordinated by Friends Committee on National Legislation, passed Congress in late 2018 and was signed into law in early 2019. We remain committed to protecting the work of its humanitarian NGO and civil society partners.