Protecting NGO Space: Current Policy Initiatives
InterAction has worked for decades to bring together policymakers and NGO community leaders to find practical solutions to policies that needlessly increase governmental red-tape and decrease the ability of civil society organization to bring vital relief and help empower our world's most vulnerable communities. When proposed polices go too far, InterAction coordinates closely with its members to relay concerns, share information, educate the media and key stakeholders, and advocate for changes in these policies.
A brief overview of several current, key policy initiatives by InterAction to protect the independence and operating space for international NGOs is explored below. For additional information on any of the below please contact email@example.com. Media inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partner Vetting System (PVS) and Risk Analysis And Management (RAM)
Protecting NGO Impartiality and Independence
InterAction has pushed for a better solution for eight years, but the U.S. government has continued to move forward a partner vetting program whose purpose is to prevent any funding from benefitting terrorist groups. InterAction, too, believes that charitable funds (government and private alike) should be effectively and impartially delivered to those in need and not diverted to terrorists or other bad actors.
However, our major concern is how USAID’s PVS and the Department of State’s RAM are formulated and implemented. The program requires NGOs to collect and disclose personal data about the personnel of agencies and subcontractors in order to receive USAID and State Department grants and contracts in certain countries. One of many concerns is that this requirement could shift perceptions of NGOs from assistance providers to intelligence gatherers.
InterAction has made its objections clear by pointing out that NGOs already screen local partners through a robust process and stating that direct U.S. NGO role in government vetting efforts can harm field programs. InterAction members’ tireless efforts have halted the implementation of this harmful rule for eight years. However, after years of negotiations between USAID, Department of State, and U.S. NGOs, the final rules have failed to adequately address some of our most critical concerns. Learn more
Protecting civilians and humanitarians in war zones
Civilians Under Fire: Restore Respect for International Humanitarian Law
There is a distressing race to the bottom in disregard for the basic rules regulating armed conflict. Parties to conflict all too frequently use indiscriminate force in populated areas; deliberately target civilians as well as their homes, hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure; and fail to take precautions in the conduct of military operations. Much of this loss of life and human suffering is avoidable. This is precisely what international humanitarian law is for – to limit the effects of armed conflict.
Focusing in particular on the acute nature of civilian harm in Syria and Yemen, InterAction released a policy brief, “Civilians Under Fire: Restore Respect for International Humanitarian Law,” that called on President Obama and his administration to take a series of steps to communicate the United States’ intentions to minimize civilian harm in its own military operations and encourage others to respond in kind.
Specifically, the policy brief called on the administration to:
- Issue a presidential statement affirming respect for the protections to which civilians and civilian objects are entitled;
- Adopt and implement, including through training, a standing operational policy on civilian protection and harm mitigation applicable to all branches of the armed services;
- Condition U.S. support for and cooperation with foreign forces (both state and non-state) on compliance with international humanitarian law; and
- Set clear benchmarks for enhanced measures by all parties to mitigate civilian harm in Syria and Yemen.