Essay Sample #1 - Role of QACA in Regulating Charities in Qatar
Between 2004 and 2009, QACA played an increasingly critical role in making Qatar’s charitable sector more efficiency and competitive in the region. One of these roles was facilitation of information sharing and accreditation of overseas charitable partners. Under Qatar laws, it is required that charities present information about other organizations and associations with which they have formal working relationships. QACA conducted due diligence to ensure that the foreign partners of Qatari charities were lawfully registered in their countries and that they were engaged in legitimate activities (Jonathan, 2003). Most importantly, QACA sought to ascertain if the foreign entities were blacklisted or designated as sponsor of terrorism or money laundering. In conducting the due diligence, QACA worked closely with many stakeholders including law enforcing agencies and regulatory bodies in home countries. QACA also distributed notices to financial institutions in the country informing them of foreign and domestic partners for Qatari charities.
For ongoing monitoring of the activities of Qatari charities and their foreign partners, QACA implemented a system that allowed its staff to regularly inspect the legal and financial documents of the charities. In addition, the authority encouraged Qatari charities to request their foreign partners to provide required information as a way of ensuring transparency. In some cases, QACA turned down requests for registration whenever it was felt that certain charities or their foreign partners were not engaged in legitimate activities. For example, where it found that the supposed foreign partners were registered as a commercial entities rather than a charitable organization, registration was automatically declined. Registrations were also declined if the foreign partners were found to be from countries that lacked clear regulatory frameworks. This unique approach employed enabled it to ensure that Qatari charities operated lawfully and in accordance with international regulations (Abdul, n.d).
The second role that QACA played related to regulation of the fundraising activities of all charitable organizations registered or operating in Qatar. Unlike other countries, Qatar’s charitable associations do not operate like typical donors when handling requests for charities from abroad. Instead, they convert requests for funds into funding projects. They then conduct a fundraising campaign to support the specific cause. In so doing, some charities may abuse their powers to misappropriate charitable funds. QACA took a series of measures to protect the interests of donors and the public during fundraising. Among these measures were the series of awareness campaigns informing the public that charitable donations must be made through the right channels. In particular, QACA banned Qatari charities from arising money in public using collection boxes without approval. Only those charities and individuals approved could collect funds from the public. In addition, they were not allowed to empty the cash from the collection boxes without the supervision of QACA inspectors. Reports were made for each box, which served as basis for financial oversight and control (Jonathan, 2003).
QACA also made it mandatory for charities to obtain approval before launching media campaigns for overseas humanitarian missions or projects. Each media campaign had to have an identification code and license number serving as proof of QACA approval. In addition, involvement of the media in fundraising activities had to be done in accordance with the terms of reference stated in the campaign license. Under its mandate, QACA was authorized to take appropriate disciplinary and legal action against any individual or entity found collecting charity funds without following the law. Fear of disciplinary action compelled most of the charities to operate within the law.
QACA also took measures to protect charitable funds from being channeled away from the intended beneficiaries. It achieved this by communicating with banks and informing them to monitor movements of funds held in the accounts of charities. In addition, the authority sent memos to various mosques and religious leaders in the country asking them not to allow fund raising by individuals and groups not authorized by QACA. The authority also requested all charities to provide periodic reports with detailed descriptions and statistics of their foreign missions. For those charities with foreign operations or overseas partners, QACA conducted overseas visits to verify records and financial transactions of foreign operations. Through these foreign visits, QACA was able to obtain pertinent that it used to implement measures for avoiding future risks. It can be argued that the foreign visits conducted by QACA helped to boost the authority’s international reputation as a strategic partner in the global war against terrorism and terror financing. In essence, the various rules and regulations implemented by QACA are strongly related to the anti-terror laws, making the association the foremost player in Qatar’s involvement in the counterterrorism war.
Thirdly, QACA played a critical role in coordinating and facilitating relief efforts by charities during crises and disasters. Major local and foreign crises such as the earthquake in China, floods in Pakistan, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, the Israel bombardment of Gaza in 2008 and 2009, and the Lebanon crisis are some of the instances during which QACA coordinated humanitarian activities by Qatari charities. During the crises, the authority organized several high level public appeals for funds and other forms of humanitarian assistance. The public and philanthropic donors responded favorably, which earned QACA increased reputation as an effective funds mobiliser.
Accomplishments of Qatar Authority of Charitable Activities between 2004-2009
Following the terrorist attacks of September 2001 in the United States, the international community led by the United Nations Security Council set stringent regulations for the global charity sector. This was in response to the revelation that certain charitable organizations had helped terrorist organizations to plan and finance the attacks. One of the measures taken by the UN Security Council was the strengthening of the role of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in fighting money laundering. Member states of the task force, as its affiliate institutions, are required to take appropriate measures to comply with the stated recommendations for combating money laundering and other financial crimes. Part of these recommendations (Special Recommendation VIII) refers to the regulation of not-for-profit organizations, which include charity groups and other non-governmental organizations. FATF requires member states to implement laws for regulating the activities of the not-for-profit sector.
Qatar is one of the several countries that have implemented the FATF recommendations on combating money laundering and terror financing. The government of Qatar established the Qatar Authority of Charitable Activities (QACA) in 2004 with a key mandate of developing, regulating, encouraging, supervising and supporting all types of charitable activities conducted by charitable organizations in Qatar. In addition to regulating fundraising by Qatari charities, QACA also directly supported humanitarian activities. Under the laws regulating charitable activities in Qatar, all charitable institutions and associations operating in the country are subject to control and supervision by QACA. In addition, individuals and entities authorized to raise donations or initiate charitable activities are also subject to supervision by QACA. Thus, QACA occupies a special position with regard to the regulation of charities in Qatar and by extension neighboring countries in the region.
Like similar organizations in other countries, QACA was responsible for approving prospects for charitable organizations in Qatar, keeping crucial documents and overseeing financial management. All charitable institutions (including those funded through royal foundations) are subject to rigorous accountability tests and thorough auditing by QACA. QACA specifies the legal requirements that must be met by organizations and individuals involved in charity activities in the country as well as their foreign partners. The association retains the right to deregister or dissolve any charitable organization that violates the law. It can also recommend prosecutions against entities and individuals suspected of violating the charity law. Under the law, no charitable group registered in Qatar can be part of another charitable group in another country without prior and explicit permission from QACA. Similarly, no charity can receive or send funds abroad without the approval of QACA.
Essay Sample #2 - Case Studies on Responses to the Changes and Effects of the Global War on Terror in Qatar
1. QATAR AUTHORITY OF CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES
1.1 Overview Charitable Sector in Qatar
The Gulf country of Qatar has one of the most developed charitable sectors in the Middle East. While some of the charitable organizations in the country operate locally, others are involved in a wide range of humanitarian missions in faraway places especially in countries hit by conflicts such as Syria, Sudan, Libya and Iraq. Generally, most of the charitable organizations of Qatar depend on donations from private donors as the main source of funding. They also get funding from the public in the form of Islamic charity, commonly known zakat. To a small extent, they also get funding from sadaqah (the non-obligatory form of Islamic charity). A few of the charities are involved in commercial activities through which they get money to support their activities (Abdul, n.d).
The charitable organizations of Qatar can be classified into three broad categories. The first category comprise of those charitable organizations working under the forum of non-governmental organizations. The leading charitable organizations in this category are the Qatari Red Crescent Associations and the Qatari Charity, both of which operate as NGOs. The two organizations get their funding mainly from the obligatory almsgiving collected during the holy month of Ramadan. These NGOs have implemented complex administrative and operational systems to ensure compliance with the law and statutory provisions. They pledge to remain neutral with regard to political issues and to pursue policies that are distinct from those pursued by the government.
The second category comprises of charities founded by members of the Qatari royal family. These include the Sheikh Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani Foundation, the Sheikh Thani Bin Abdul Allah Al Thani Foundation and the Sons of Sheikh Eid Al-Thani Charitable Foundation. These charities depend greatly on their founders’ endowments (waqfs) for funding. However, as the charitable becomes more competitive and resource constrained, the royal family foundations have in the recent years resorted to fundraising to support their activities. For example, during the 2010 catastrophic floods in Pakistan, the Sons of Sheikh Eid Al-Thani Charitable Foundation organized a series of public funds drives to help the victims of the floods. Thus, the royal family foundations are actively competing against NGOs for funding (Abdul, n.d).
The third category of Qatari’s comprises of those founded by the Qatari Foundation. These charities depend on the Qatari Foundation for their financial needs, and are mostly civil society organizations. The Qatari Foundation’s scope of operations is mostly domestic and therefore the charities supported by the foundation focus mainly on providing support to disadvantaged groups such as children, the elderly and the disabled. They also help victims of catastrophic disasters. A few charities funded by the Qatari Foundation provide limited relief support and aid overseas. These include the Education Above All Initiatives, the Al-Fakhoora Project and Reach out to Asia.
As in many other countries, the level of volunteerism within Qatari’s charitable sector is very small. As such, most of the charities depend on paid staff to execute their mandates. It can be noted that Qatar is a small country with population of 2.3 million people (about half a million are nationals of Qatar with the rest being foreigners). Accordingly, the charitable sector is very small, with most of the charities pursuing fairly similar objectives. For this reason, there have been persistent calls for Qatari charities to consolidate their missions and work together. This has not been achieved due to various factors such as differences in organizational cultures, fear of loss of donors, and lack of trust between charities (Abdul, n.d).
The government of Qatar takes cognizance of the fact that the charitable sector not only provides vital services but also acts as a platform through which Qataris express the spirit of altruism to promote the change they could like to see in the country and beyond. The government has taken further consideration of the fact that the charitable sector is vulnerable to abuse and illegal activities such as terror financing and money laundering. In this regard, the government has taken various measures to regulate the charitable sector. Charitable organizations are accountable to their financiers and the government, and are expected to account for all funds received. By regulating the charitable sector, the government of Qatar aims to minimize vulnerabilities of the sector. The various regulatory mechanisms put in place by the government enable tracking of charity funds right from the source to the beneficiaries.
The global war on terror has been an issue of great concern for Qatar’s charities and non-governmental organization since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA. It has been established that a number of charities across the world have been clandestinely working with terrorist groups through funds transfer and other forms of material support. Moreover, some charities are run by associates of terror groups for the purpose of collecting funds from the public and other well wishers who are never informed of the really missions of the charities. This has led to increased pressures by government oversights over the charities. In countries such as the UK and USA, several NGOs and Islamic charities have been blacklisted for helping terrorist groups. Consequently, these charities have had their assets frozen, and operations stopped. In other cases, some of the charities’ leaders have been prosecuted and imprisoned. Qatar is fortunate in that it has not had any of its charities designated as a sponsor of terrorism. Nonetheless, the government of Qatar has worked tirelessly to strengthen the law on terrorism to ensure that charities do not abuse their privileges to support terror groups. To this end, the government is committed to developing a robust regulatory framework for civil society and NGOs to bring out long-term positive changes.
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