On Feb. 18, 2022, responding to a request for input, the Charity & Security Network submitted comments to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, in order to, as stated in the request for input, “inform [the UN Special Rapporteur’s] thematic report on trends, developments, and challenges to the ability of civil society organizations to access resources, including foreign funding, to be presented to the HRC at its 50th Session.”
The comments address problematic outcomes of counterterrorism measures and sanctions that unduly disrupt the activities of civil society organizations, including the ability to solicit, receive and utilize resources. Specifically, the comments address the following areas:
- State Practices: Sanctions, bank derisking and lack of adequate access to the international financial system for civil society organizations
- Donor Practices: Donor restrictions that impede flow of aid funds and harm program implementation;
- Excessive vetting requirements that infringe on rights of association, assembly and privacy rights, including real-world examples
- Donor freezing and cutting funds pending investigations in response to politically motivated attacks on civil society and political pressure
The comments conclude by recommending that the Human Rights Council:
- Include Freedom of Association and Assembly for civil society as an integral part of the Council’s Universal Periodic Reviews. As part of this consideration, the HRC should reject extreme definitions of “association” that stretch the credulity of direct linkages of individuals or organizations. Moreover, in such cases or in such jurisdictions where questionable linkages are made, the HRC should call for transparency from the government or authority making such claims or basing a decision on such claims.
- Encourage Member States and the financial sector to take concrete steps to mitigate barriers current law, policy and practices create for civil society access to resources.