chapter  6
11 Pages

Initiatives in response to the pressure of counter-terrorism policy: The Montreux Initiative, Humanitarian Forum, and other steps

Thus far we have largely discussed efforts by national governments and by regions to reduce the threats of terrorist finance or involvement by charitable entities through the enhanced use of counter-terrorism law and policy. But faced with the impact of counterterrorism law and policy on civil society, civil society groups have responded in different ways. At the national level, as mentioned in the chapters on the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and India, nonprofit groups and coalitions have opposed specific elements of anti-terrorism law and policy that seem directed against, or likely to have a disproportionate impact on civil society. In the United States, for example, organizations like OMBWatch,

the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Council on Foundations and others have played important roles in identifying and, where possible, seeking to ameliorate those impacts. In the United Kingdom, the National Council on Voluntary Organizations (NCVO) has tried to warn of the dangers of reducing the role of the Charity Commission in investigating and responding to links between charities and terrorism. In the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Canada, Muslim representative and lobbying groups have sought to point out discrimination against Muslim nonprofits and charities where it appears. Beyond these largely national efforts, several other initiatives are

underway to ease restrictions on Muslim charities, reduce government interference with Muslim charities uninvolved with terrorism, increase confidence in the Muslim charitable sector, and promote governance and accountability in the sector. These are diverse efforts, some more advanced that others. Some of these projects are largely defensive in nature – defensive for the Muslim charitable sector in individual countries, or more specifically defensive for organizations closed, charged or under investigation. Most are also future oriented, seeking to re-establish a

significant presence for Islamic charity in the Western charitable world while improving practices in the sector and, of course, reducing the possibility that these charities can be used for terrorist purposes. Some may be defensive, confidence-building, and self-regulatory all at the same time – a fascinating attempt to rebuild a sector that has been significantly damaged in a number of countries.