Aligning Security and Civic Space

Exploring issues and making recommendations for resolving tensions between counterterrorism strategies and the protection of civil society.

To stem illicit financial flows that fuel terrorism and crime, governments have passed and implemented numerous laws that either inadvertently or intentionally undermine civil society. This trend is being fueled in large part by policies that are generated in the United States that have transnational implications for governments, the private/banking sector, and in turn, civil society around the world. iCon members, together with experts from ministries of finance/treasury, the banking sector, defense and law enforcement agencies, civil society, and the philanthropic community, will develop a better understanding of the impact of anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) efforts on the work of civil society actors, both formal and informal. Against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to cut off funding to ISIS and other terrorist organizations, iCon members will recommend strategies for protecting the legitimate space for peaceful civil society while preventing terrorist abuse of the non-profit sector.

Research Questions

  • What opportunities are there for fostering a constructive and sustained dialogue on the importance of protecting civic space between different parts of the U.S. Government in a bid to craft a more consistent policymaking approach to these issues? What role can CSIS play to foster such a dialogue?
  • How can the United States engage more constructively at an international level around the issue of closing space and AML/CFT? What role can the UN and other international bodies play on these issues?
  • How can effective strategies, such as self-regulation of the sector, be replicated and expanded in order to protect civic space, while addressing concerns about vulnerability in the non-profit sector?

Photo credit: GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit: GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images