This policy brief examines the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder and its potential impact on public and private actors that engage with terrorist organizations to promote peace and development. The brief notes that the decision has left many international actors uncertain as to whether their routine activities, particularly in conflict situations, could result in criminal prosecution or a civil suit under U.S. law. This uncertainty is exacerbated by international counterterrorism measures that require states to prohibit a broad range of support activities for terrorist organizations without requiring exemptions for humanitarian, development, or peacekeeping actors. The brief argues that there is a need for greater clarity in U.S. and international law to isolate those that should be prosecuted for material support and to guide the conduct of those who, in their efforts to promote peace and development, must engage terrorist organizations.
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