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Counter-terrorism and humanitarian action

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Victoria Metcalfe-Hough

Briefing/policy paper

This HPG Policy Brief explores how measures introduced to combat terrorism have had a significant impact on humanitarian organisations, eroding their ability to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.  The authors consider how counter-terrorism provisions can criminalise humanitarian action and undermine humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality. 

Key findings include:

  • Humanitarian funding from donor governments is increasingly being made conditional on assurances that it is not benefiting listed individuals or organisations.
  • Counter-terrorism laws and other measures have increased operating costs and administrative functions and slowed down operational response.
  • Greater transparency is required between NGOs, UN agencies, humanitarian donors and governments in order to ensure that counter-terrorism objectives do not undermine humanitarian commitments.   
Sara Pantuliano, Kate Mackintosh, Samir Elhawary, Vicki Metcalfe