In October 2020, the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) launched a new initiative to advance the design, implementation, and evaluation of risk-based countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) policies and practices to ensure they do not negatively affect civic space, human rights, or humanitarian action, co-led by the Netherlands, Morocco, and UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and implemented by the Global Center.

A growing body of evidence has shown that implementation of CFT measures have sometimes negatively impacted civil society organizations and humanitarian actors. Categorical perceptions by the financial sector of non-profits entities as high risk for terrorism financing have contributed to declines or delays in financial access (de-risking) that jeopardize civil society and humanitarian operations, and particularly impact women’s rights, gender-focused, and youth-based entities. The implementation of counterterrorism-related sanctions has created complexities for humanitarian actors operating in jurisdictions where violent extremist operations overlap with other forms of conflict and crisis, increasing their burden to effectively and safely carry out their activities, and often imposing risks and threats on civil society organizations. In some places, CFT measures have been abused to target political opposition, shrink civic space, or infringe upon human rights. In others, non-profit actors have struggled to adapt in the face of arduous legal and administrative barriers imposed under CFT frameworks, causing a chilling effect on civic space and freedom of association.

The initiative includes a series of global consultations and expert-level workshops with policymakers, CFT practitioners, civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and humanitarian actors to foster linkages between and sustain multi-stakeholder dialogue. Through the identification and examination of lessons learned from around the globe, the initiative will result in the development of a GCTF Good Practice Memorandum that will support the implementation of risk-based CFT policies that safeguard civic space.

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