FATF and the Global NPO Coalition: a case study in effective and sustained collaboration

The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) has launched an initiative on ‘Ensuring the Effective Implementation of Countering the Financing of Terrorism Measures While Safeguarding Civic Space'. This is being co-led by The Netherlands, Morocco and the UN Office of Counter-terrorism (UNOCT), and implemented by the Global Center on Cooperative Security. It envisages the development of a GCTF good practices memorandum on implementing effective and risk-based CFT measures that avoid negatively affecting civic space and humanitarian operations.

As part of this process, there has been a series of global multi-stakeholder consultations, to which Global NPO Coalition members have contributed. The consultation on January 27, 2021 included a session on 'Advancing and Sustaining Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue and Collaboration', illustrated by case studies that 'provide examples of sustained forums for dialogue between government, non-profit, and private sector actors to address tensions between CFT, civic space, humanitarian action, and financial inclusion', sharing challenges, successes, and lessons learnt. 

One of the case studies presented was the long-standing and fruitful engagement between the FATF and the Global NPO Coalition. Speaking for the FATF was their Vice-President from Mexico, Elisa da Anda. Some of the key messages from her speech were:

'(...) On the civil society side, there are such a broad range of stakeholders, often with divergent views. So, to overcome this challenge, the NPOs created a Coalition of interested and informed stakeholders to engage with the FATF. Our key NPO interlocutors were experienced and able to represent and convey other stakeholders’ views from the civil society community. This Coalition—acting on behalf of the NPO community—greatly assisted the FATF as they were able to collect evidence and demonstrate to the FATF what was happening in practice. Importantly, they also provided consistent messages about what changes the FATF should consider to its Standards.'
 '(….) At the beginning of our engagement with civil society, it felt like we were speaking different languages. The FATF Standards are incredibly technical and we use MANY acronyms. It is not easy for anyone, including financial experts, to pick up quickly all of the FATF’s language. There were also misunderstandings about the FATF’s mandate and Standards. At that time, the FATF needed to be clear about what it can do based on its limited mandate.' 
'Personal relationships and consistency of those individuals involved in the process helped to develop a more constructive dialogue and to make sure we were not starting from square one each time an issue came up.'
'(….) The FATF is committed to actively engaging with the NPO community in an open and transparent manner, in order to ensure that their practical knowledge and experience can be properly reflected in our Standards. We acknowledge that civil society is at the frontline and plays a critical role, and therefore their experience and knowledge is essential in informing effective counter-terrorist financing action. This engagement has been essential in ensuring that our Standards do not cut across other important policy objectives, especially on international development and humanitarian assistance. The FATF is committed to this ongoing engagement and promoting effective and proportionate, risk-based measures in all countries.'   

Read the full text of her speech here. 

Speaking on behalf of the Global NPO Coalition was co-chair Lia van Broekhoven of Human Security Collective, who outlined the history of the engagement, including the process and the practice, laid out the achievements, and spoke of lessons learnt and ongoing challenges. For Lia's presentation and speaking notes, see here and here.