Review of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate
Recent Council Action
On 20 December the Council adopted a presidential statement completing its review of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED). Its review was undertaken on the basis of a report by the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). The outcome does not bode well for the future of the CTED which must now prove that it can live up to the original expectations of providing support to the CTC on combating terrorism.
The CTC raised serious questions over the performance of the CTED. It provided a blunt assessment of the CTED and found it wanting in several areas. For its part, CTED has a very different analysis of the problems and there may be many reasons for the delays that have been identified. However, the overall issue raises difficult questions for the Council in the future.
According to the CTC report, while the CTED made some progress in the monitoring aspects of its mandate, very little was accomplished in counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance facilitation. Many benchmarks set by the Council were not achieved. (For analysis of the benchmarks set for the CTED evaluation, please see our December 2006 Forecast.)
Moreover, although the CTED’s mandate requires it to support the work of the CTC, the report suggests that the CTED appears to lack focus and needs to be more proactive in carrying out its responsibilities while taking policy guidance from the CTC as required.
Establishment of CTED
When it was established in 2001 by resolution 1373, the CTC was viewed as the central focus of UN counter-terrorism activities. In resolution 1535, the Council in 2004 decided to provide the CTC with a permanent professional staff. The CTED was conceived as a “special political mission of the Security Council” with a unique political accountability. Its executive director was to be appointed “after consultation with and subject to the approval of the Council.” Moreover, the resolution said the CTED was to be “under the policy guidance” of the CTC. The resolution also asserted an unprecedented role for the Council in terms of approval of the administrative set-up of the CTED.
There were, no doubt, many reasons driving this new experiment. But a major concern perhaps was that the new support staff should be insulated from what some Council members saw as the bureaucratic and inefficient culture of the Secretariat. Ironically, precisely these kinds of problems seem to have emerged (according to the critics of the CTC) despite the special oversight role the Council carved out for itself. The CTED experiment may have failed to deliver the new responsive and politically supportive culture that was being sought. One issue is whether in part the Council itself is at fault for not having effectively utilised the unique power that it had given itself in resolution 1535.
But the underlying question that remains is: what should be done in terms of the substance of the CTED’s work if by the time of the next review it continues to fail to achieve the stated objectives?
CTED Reporting Lines
From the outset, there was controversy within the Secretariat about CTED reporting lines. This was initially resolved on the basis that the CTED must-like all other sections of the Secretariat-report to intergovernmental machinery through the Secretary-General.
It seems that some Council members concluded that this reporting requirement may have been construed by the CTED as a basis for pursuing an independent approach rather than accepting CTC policy guidance.
Aware of the emerging problems between the Council and the CTED and always cognisant of the Council’s desire that the CTED should remain its own creature, Secretary-General Kofi Annan in December decided to remove any misunderstanding. In a letter to the president of the Council, he made it clear that from the Secretariat’s perspective it had no interest in overseeing the CTED’s policy role. Annan suggested that the Council should ask the CTED to submit its reports directly to the CTC. The Council adopted that approach and in its presidential statement in December decided that the CTED would present its draft work programmes and semi-annual reports directly to the CTC.
CTED role in assistance to member states
The outgoing CTC chair, Denmark’s Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj, in presenting the CTC’s report to the Council on 20 December expressed disappointment with the lack of measurable results and said that the CTED could do much better. “The measuring stick for evaluating the effectiveness has been the degree to which member states implement the resolution,” she said. She was not pleased that requests for assistance remained unanswered. The CTED had not provided the CTC with the support that it needed to achieve these objectives.
By the end of 2006, the CTED had conducted 15 country visits (five in 2005 and 10 in 2006) but could point to only two countries that had received assistance as a result of those visits. A related concern was that the CTED’s emphasis on conducting country visits prior to engaging potential assistance providers has contributed to an even larger backlog of candidates for assistance.
By the end of 2006 states had filed several hundred reports in response to CTC requests. In addition, new requests for assistance have been received by the CTC. The CTC seems concerned that the CTED has not been more proactive in matching assistance needs with potential providers. It is looking for a regularly updated assistance matrix so that it will be able to provide information on requests for assistance to potential providers on demand.
The CTC now proposes detailed discussions on the functioning and results of the technical assistance work by the CTED that is based on an updated analysis of results in this area. This will take place during the first quarter of 2007.
Assessments of Implementation
According to the CTED’s semi-annual report, the number of assessments promised to the CTC would be 130 by the end of 2006. However, at the time the report was sent to the Council on 18 December, only 42 preliminary implementation assessments had been provided. The CTED reported in March that it had completed priority needs assessments for 91 states, which only increased to 96 by December.
According to Ambassador Løj, to realise “its great potential to become a key partner of states in their implementation of resolution 1373,” the CTC “will require appropriate guidance from CTC to the CTED, a proactive approach from the CTED, as well as due respect for the CTC’s and, thereby, for the CTED’s mandate.”
Outcome from Council review in December
One likely outcome in practice from this review is a more interactive relationship on policy guidelines between the CTC and the CTED, including setting specific objectives and measurable benchmarks to be achieved within a reasonable timeframe (but without micromanaging the CTED, for which the CTC has been criticised from time to time).
Nonetheless, the reality is that the CTC and the Council have already provided straightforward benchmarks. What may be needed is a much more intensive and informal relationship between the CTC bureau and the CTED leadership. But the limited available time for Council ambassadors is a genuine constraint, given the other pressures on Council members.
In its discussions in December, the Council did not hold an open debate on the work of the CTED. All discussions were held during closed consultations and only Council members were afforded an opportunity to participate in them. This lack of transparency in the review process and lack of opportunity for input is contrary to the expectations of the wider UN membership, some of whom had expressed concerns in this regard when the CTED was established. Firsthand experience from states outside the Council with the difficulty of interacting with the CTED could have provided important input to the review process.
On the other hand, however, there is increased transparency as a result of the CTC setting out in its report specific expectations for the work of the CTED in 2007. This includes completion of tasks assigned by the CTC in 2006 that were not accomplished.
The CTC’s report was endorsed by the Council in its presidential statement of 20 December 2006, which also agreed with the recommendations and conclusions contained in the report. These will be the measure by which the CTED’s future work is evaluated.
Will CTED survive?
An important new development is the General Assembly UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was approved in 2006 and which makes specific calls on the CTC and the CTED regarding steps they could take in order to implement the strategy. It is too soon to conclude that the strategy will displace the CTC and CTED as the central focus of UN counter-terrorism activity. However, it will reinforce the growing calls by many states, including a number in the Council, for the focus to be less exclusively on the Council. The difficulties in December over CTED and its performance seem likely to encourage that trend.
Outside the Council, the apparent failure of the CTED to meet expectations will fuel discussions about whether it is the right body to be entrusted with responsibility for leading efforts to coordinate assistance to UN member states that need capacity building measures. While there now appears to be broad acceptance that such efforts are needed, views are beginning to emerge that other parts of the UN system with capacity-building expertise may be better equipped for the task, which would leave the CTED with a strictly monitoring and policy support role.
The new CTC chair is Panama’s Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias. In the course of this year, Council members will have to determine whether the results they want from the CTED are achievable within the current structure and whether this will require much greater and perhaps higher-level input from Council members. This could result in a challenging period ahead.
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