3 April 2023

Philea submits input into UN Study on Counterterrorism impact on civil society along with key partners

On 28 February 2023, Philea and its global partner WINGs submitted input to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin.

The input* was provided under the lead of Charity & Security Network (C&SN), in response to an open call for submissions for civil society, Member States, and regional and international organisations to contribute their experiences, evidence, research findings, and insights on the interface of counter-terrorism, civil society and civic space for the first independent Global Study on the Impact of Counter-Terrorism Measures on Civil Society and Civic Space, which will be issued in 2023.

The written input addressed several key areas where civil society and civic space is negatively impacted by counter-terrorism measures. It stressed that over application of counter-terrorism laws and measures, including anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT), is seen as a key driver of restrictions on Freedom of Association and civil society’s, including philanthropy, ability to give or receive resources especially in cross-border areas and operations. The broad nature of counter-terrorism measures and laws and the lack of international accountability mechanisms was identified as allowing many governments (listed in country-specific examples) to use these measures to silence and create barriers for civil society actors.

The contribution stated that CSOs face complex challenges as a result of the new focus that the financial sector placed on counter-terrorism leading to issues of increased bank de-risking and tighter reporting obligations. Disproportionate negative impact of counter-terrorism measures on women and women-led organisations were also highlighted.

The input also provided recommendations to States and regional and international organisations, including the United Nations, for ensuring adequate civil society participation and consideration of the impacts of counter-terrorism on civil society and philanthropy including a call for an international definition of terrorism that prevents the broad use of terrorism against civil society actors, and creating spaces for civil society to report instances of abuse of counter-terrorism measures by States.

Philea thanks the Special Rapporteur for conducting this comprehensive study.

*The Charity & Security Network (C&SN) collected views from key stakeholders and submitted the contribution on behalf of C&SN, Philea, the Worldwide Initiative for Grantmakers Support (WINGS), Arab Campaign for Education for All (ACEA), the Bridges Faith Initiative (BFI), the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), the CIVIC Advisory Hub, the Common Action for Gender Development (COMAGEND), the Defenders Protection Initiative (DPI), Epuka Ugaidi, the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL), the Human Security Collective (HSC), the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), the Palestinian NGO’s Network (PNGO), Unidosc, and other partners who chose to remain anonymous.


Lucia Plantamura
Legal and Policy Officer