Preventing abuse of the non-profit sector to finance terrorism

26 January 2011

The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) three-year global initiative to prevent abuse of the charitable sector for the purpose of terrorism financing was launched in London on 18 January by the British Minister of State for Security, Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones.

More than 60 experts and policymakers from all over the world gathered for a three-day expert group meeting to offer the United Nations advice and guidance on how States can identify risks and prevent financers of terrorism from abusing charities while ensuring that the dynamism of the non-profit sector is maintained.  

CTED is leading the initiative on behalf of the CTITF Working Group on Tackling the Financing of Terrorism, in partnership with the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation and the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Representatives of the CTITF Working Group (including IMF, INTERPOL, UNODC, the World Bank and the Monitoring Team of the Security Council “1267 Committee”), the Financial Action Task Force, regional bodies, 21 States and several non-profit organizations (NPOs) also participated.

The non-profit sector is vulnerable to abuse in a number of ways. NPOs can be used to raise, transfer and divert funds for terrorist purposes, to provide direct logistical support to terrorists, or serve as a cover for their operations.

Thankfully, these examples are not the norm. Most NPOs operate responsibly and provide valuable services to the community, especially to those in need. However, it is important that States provide the necessary protection, including through a frank assessment of risks and vulnerabilities in the highly diverse charitable sector, in order to ensure that they do not suffer the reputational risk that could deter donors from funding.

Participants in the expert group meeting considered methodologies used around the world, in particular efforts to increase the transparency and accountability of the non-profit sector. They also shared a number of regulatory models and practices that could provide guidance to States in implementing tailor-made solutions to counter the risk of terrorism financing in the non-profit sector. The solutions may vary from one context to the other, but should all respect fundamental human rights principles, including freedom of association.

The findings and recommendations of the London meeting will serve as a basis for a series of regional events, which are aimed at developing unique regional perspectives on how to successfully address the issue of terrorism financing as it relates to the non-profit sector and which will eventually feed into capacity-building on a global basis.

This page was last updated on: 26-Jan-2011 4:53 PM EST