In January 2023, the IIJ convened its first workshop on safeguarding the non-profit sector from misuse for terrorist financing in the Middle East. The event was organized with the generous financial support of the State of Kuwait within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding the IIJ signed with the Kuwait Institute for Judicial and Legal Studies on 6 December 2022.
The workshop took place in a hybrid format, with 25 participants present in Malta and another 20 joining online. Representatives of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen were involved in intensive discussions on existing terrorist financing risks for the non-profit sector in the region, corresponding state measures, good practices on risk-based supervision, as well as obligations of non-profit organizations to report suspicious activity and introduce internal safeguards.
The program was structured to give special attention to the complex issue of how best impose a compliance regime that is rigorous enough to be effective but preserves the humanitarian goals and fundraising abilities of non-profit organizations. We also explored the broader human rights implications of countering terrorist financing, such as the impact of additional control measures over the high-risk organizations working in areas affected by armed conflicts. And finally, the workshop offered a meaningful and focused opportunity for public-private dialogue on the topic, as the participants represented non-profit organizations as well as a range of state institutions, including law enforcement, regulatory authorities, financial intelligence units and oversight and monitoring entities.
Ms. Mai Eleimat, founder of Edmaaj, a Jordanian consultancy organisation working on TF assessment and awareness, commented: “This workshop is an important and effective platform to spread awareness about money laundering and financing terrorism”. “During our exchanges, we were able to learn more about other countries’ good practices, in addition to similarities and differences in each of represented countries”, she added.
As a result of the workshop, the country delegations formulated recommendations for their governments and self-regulating bodies of the non-profit sector, based on the specific vulnerabilities identified and good practices discussed. These recommendations will be at the core of the IIJ’s programming for follow-up activities. The IIJ is committed to continuing the work on countering terrorist financing in MENA and other core regions.