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European Commission




InterAction research on detrimental impact of CT measures on humanitarian action

InterAction conducted a research on impact of global counter-terrorism measures on the delivery of humanitarian aid. They undertook a review to catalogue and make accessible available relevant sources that capture CT impacts on humanitarian activities. 
InterAction established the Counter-Terrorism & Humanitarian Action Resource Library, an open-source platform designed to be a resource for humanitarian practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. The resource library also includes two critical tools:


  • Impact Catalog: a collection of identified impacts on humanitarian action derived from C.T. impediments found in the existing literature. Impacts are intentionally grouped into five categories (operational, financial, security, legal, and reputational), as defined in the accompanying terms and definitions sheet.
  • Recommendations Catalog: a consolidated list of recommendations and solutions posed to States, donors, U.N. entities, multilateral agencies, banks, and financial institutions over nearly 20 years.



In addition to producing these tools for the humanitarian community, InterAction conducted an analysis of the available evidence of CT impacts on humanitarian action. The findings are detailed in InterAction’s new report Detrimental Impacts: How Counter-Terror Measures Impede Humanitarian Action.


Toolkit for Principled Humanitarian Action: Managing Counterterrorism Risks

The Norwegian Refugee Council has developed a Toolkit for Principled Humanitarian Action funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.  

It is designed to raise awareness of counterterrorism-related risks so that organisations can identify and mitigate these. The Toolkit - available as an online platform from May 2020- aims to increase understanding of practical aspects of risk management and to enable Humanitarian organisations to mainstream consideration of counterterrorism-related risks throughout the project management cycle.


Risk Management Principles Guide for Sending Humanitarian Funds into Syria and Similar High-Risk Jurisdictions

The risk management principles guide for Syria was drafted based on exchanges between experts, governments, donors, banks and humanitarian operators on the impact of sanctions on the provision of humanitarian aid in Syria. These exchanges were organised by the Graduate Institute and supported and funded by the Swiss Government as well as supported by the European Commission.
Published in May 2020, this guide has been developed to offer background information and practical tips for how banks, humanitarian organisations and donors can work together to ensure aid can reach civilians in need of assistance within Syria, and in a manner which is compliant with EU/US/UN sanctions plus wider regulatory obligations. Although primarily developed in the context of Syria, the principles contained within the guide offer a transferable framework for working together in other high-risk jurisdictions where sanctions, conflict and terrorist financing concerns are prevalent.

Reports of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ms. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

Human rights impact of counter-terrorism and countering (violent) extremism policies and practices on the rights of women, girls and the family, January 2021

In the present report, the Special Rapporteur addresses the global, regional and national effects of the widespread use of counter-terrorism and preventing and countering (violent) extremism law, policies and practice on the lives of women, girls and the family. The interaction between family regulation and counter-terrorism is accelerating, with profound implications for both, giving the State considerable and unprecedented access to the home and enabling the legal regulation of family life in the name of national security in ways that hitherto would have been inconceivable. The effects are found across multiple counter-terrorism measures, with a specific and defined negative impact on the human rights of women and girls and direct consequences for the integrity and protection of the family.


Human rights impact of policies and practices aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism, February 2020

In the present report, the Special Rapporteur addresses the global and national effects of the widespread use of policies and practices aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism. The Special Rapporteur acknowledges the social and political imperatives of addressing violent extremism but underscores that only rights-affirming and rights-focused policies will have long-term success in preventing violence. She underscores the lack of a robust scientific basis for the current policies and practices aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism and the complete absence of human rights-based monitoring and evaluation, including by United Nations entities.


Promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, September 2020

The report was submitted to the 75th session of the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteur. In the report, she addresses the interface between international human rights law and international humanitarian law in counter-terrorism contexts. She affirms the interdependent and intersectional nature of the relationship between both legal regimes, which is all the more pronounced in counter-terrorism contexts. She acknowledges the persistent and unequivocal affirmation by the Security Council and other bodies that any counter-terrorism measures must always and fully comply with, inter alia, the overarching norms of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law. This is a key basis on which the Special Rapporteur makes the recommendations set out in the report.


Relevant publications

Humanitarian orgnisations and academia have been active in publishing research papers and reports on the impact of counterterrorism measures and sanctions regimes on humanitarian action. Here below enlisted some of the recent publications on the topic.

This section does not provide a comprehensive list of publications on the provision of humanitarian aid in the context of sanctions. Furthermore, the views and opinions expressed in the publications listed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Commission.!


We encourage partners to suggest additional useful tools and initiatives to add in this section. Please send your suggestions to the email indicated under Contact.