Addressing the Challenges to NGOs Working with Non-State Armed Groups
This two-part expert roundtable will consider the impact of UK legislation on international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and their engagement with non-state armed groups (NSAGs). The first roundtable, jointly hosted with Conciliation Resources, will address the challenges of engagement with NSAGs for peacebuilding and mediation support for NGOs. Under the UK Terrorism Act of 2000 it is an offence to arrange, manage or assist in arranging or managing a meeting known to support a proscribed organization, their activities, or addressed by a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organization. An explanatory note to the Act permits ‘genuinely benign meetings’. The UK government has indicated that meetings intended to further a peace process are considered ‘benign’, yet the practical impact of this is unclear and political and legal obstacles to engagement remain.
The first roundtable will consider specific examples of issues related to interpreting this legislation and different approaches to mitigating its impact. Ideas generated at this meeting will feed into forthcoming UK government-NGO working groups on counterterrorism legislation and humanitarian, peacebuilding and development work.
On the second day, the focus will be on the impact of the UK’s regulatory framework on humanitarian NGOs who operate in areas controlled by NSAGs. Many of these NGOs face (undisclosed) financial restrictions and bureaucratic burdens imposed by banks, leading to increased operating costs and delays, and difficulties in obtaining access to financial services. The banks in turn face increased regulation, greater operating and capital costs and in some cases, major fines following significant regulatory failings. The result of this increased pressure has been significant in terms of preventing NGOs from conducting humanitarian operations in places which often have some of the highest levels of humanitarian need.
This meeting will provide a forum to share and discuss the initial findings of a research paper prepared by Chatham House. The paper provides specific examples of the impact of financial regulations on NGOs and recommendations for reducing this impact.
Attendance at this event is by invitation only.