The legal constraints national security laws impose of U.S. charitable organizations cause tensions with international law and codes for humanitarian aid and development programs. The standards and principles expressed in the Geneva Conventions and International Red Cross Code of Conduct could be emulated by the U.S and incorporated into future polices.

This panel discussion featured NGO leaders and experts from the U.S. who shared their expertise on humanitarian codes, charitable groups and donors affected by U.S. laws and regulations.

Summary of July 1, 2009 panel discussion

—Click on the speaker’s name to listen to their presentation—
Opening Remarks: Kay Guinane, Director, Charity and Security Network


  • Brian MajewskiPartner, Global Emergency Group (Powerpoint presentation)

  • Charles SwiftPartner, Swift and McDonald, counsel to Muslim Legal Foundation of American, counsel in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld  and US v. Hamdan (Powerpoint presentation)

  • Jennifer TurnerHuman Rights Researcher, ACLU Human Rights Program, author of Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity: Chilling Muslim Charitable Giving in the “War on Terrorism Financing”

  • Mohammed AlomariChief Operating Officer, Life for Relief & Development

  • Jan Lane, Policy Advisor and Senior Fellow, Homeland Security Policy Institute, George Washington University

Additional information about the speakers:

Mohammed Alomari is Chief Operating Officer for Life for Relief and Development, a Michigan-based American Muslim charity. Mohammed has worked in the Information Technology field for 15 years and in the non-profit sector for the last seven years. During that time, he has traveled extensively to Iraq and the Middle East since 2003 and seen first-hand the humanitarian work in the field.

Jan Lane currently serves as Policy Advisor of the Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI), of the George Washington University, following her tenure as Deputy Director from 2006 to February 2009. Prior to joining HSPI, Jan was Vice President of Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships for the American Red Cross, and led the organization’s government relations efforts during some of its most challenging times, including the response to September 11th; the 2005 Tsunami; Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; and the interaction with FDA and Congress regarding blood safety issues.

Brian Majewski is a founding partner and manager of strategic consulting at the Global Emergency Group. He has 14 years of experience working in the international humanitarian sector on policy and programmatic issues. From 2001-2008 Brian served as the Senior Director for International Policy and Relations managing issues and relationships with an emphasis on multilateral coordination, international humanitarian law and programmatic policy and advocacy initiatives including emerging US anti-terrorism laws.
Charles Swift is partner at Swift & McDonald, P.S. Charles retired from active service in the United States Navy on August 31, 2007 as a Lieutenant Commander in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Prior to retirement, Swift gained national attention, when after being assigned as a defense counsel in the Office of the Chief Defense Counsel in the Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions and detailed to represent Salim Ahmed Hamdan, he refused to attempt to persuade his client to plead guilty. Instead, Swift persuaded his client, Hamdan, to permit Swift to serve as his “next friend” and file a habeas corpus action on Hamdan’s behalf challenging his detention and trial, an action that ultimately culminated in the landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court inHamdan v. Rumsfeld.
Jennifer Turner is the Human Rights Researcher in the ACLU’s Human Rights Program. Jennifer conducts documentation research and advocacy on human rights violations in the U.S., with a focus on national security, women’s rights, children’s rights and immigrants’ rights. She also carries out advocacy before the U.N. Human Rights Council and human rights treaty monitoring bodies, and has monitored military commission hearings at Guantánamo Bay.