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Tightening the Purse Strings: What Countering Terrorism Financing Costs Gender Equality and Security

Authored by: Duke Law International Human Rights Clinic and Women Peacemakers Program

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Violent Conflict, Violent Extremism
Region: No Region
Year: 2017
Citation: Tightening the Purse Strings: What Countering Terrorism Financing Costs Gender Equality and Security. Durham, NC: Duke Law International Human Rights Clinic and Women Peacemakers Program, 2017.

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Executive Summary

The ways in which countering terrorism financing rules have been designed and implemented take little to no account of these features of women’s rights organizations and the environments in which they operate. In practice, legal and regulatory frameworks to counter terrorism financing often restrict transnational financial flows (e.g., from Western donors to grassroots groups); involve heavy compliance requirements; cause delays in, or block receipt of, funds; favor established and often international organizations; call for detailed information on civil society’s activities, including in some cases beneficiaries; and decrease the risk appetite of donors and banks. The full extent of these impacts, however, is unknown as regulatory authorities, donors, and financial institutions do not often collect or share relevant information on impacts or explicitly provide reasons for limiting resources and financial access, while civil society actors typically under-report incidents out of reputational or enforcement concerns or due to low levels of knowledge regarding countering terrorism financing measures. In particular, the gender and human rights implications of these countering terrorism financing policies have to date escaped scrutiny. There has, instead, been a tendency to treat civil society organizations and their activities as homogenous and to diagnose problems with—and then devise solutions to— countering terrorism financing regimes that overlook, and may in some cases, deepen adverse impacts. Tightening the Purse Strings: What Countering Terrorism Financing Costs Gender Equality and Security represents the culmination of research, interviews, surveys, and statistical analysis carried out by the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at Duke University School of Law and the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) to begin to fill these gaps in understanding how responses to terrorism and violent extremism may, in practice, undermine gender equality. In particular, this Report analyzes these measures from an international human rights law perspective, assessing the extent to which countering terrorism financing measures comply with a host of international law obligations, such as prohibitions on both direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of sex and gender and guaranteeing freedom of association, assembly, and expression, including in ensuring access to resources.