February 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2008
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Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate

Expected Council Action
The report of the executive director of theCounter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) pursuant to resolution 1787, which extended the CTED’s mandate until 31 March, will provide the framework for an in-depth review of the CTED by the Council. At the time of writing, discussions had begun in the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) on this report (which is not yet publicly available). It is unclear when final action will take place in the Council but it is expected before the CTED mandate expires at the end of March.

The CTED was established in 2004 by resolution 1535 as a special political mission, and it has been subject to periodic reviews and renewals. The Council’s December 2006 review highlighted a number of problems and weaknesses in the operations and effectiveness of the CTED. The upcoming review is likely to focus on the CTED’s effectiveness, but other developments, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the General Assembly in 2006, are also expected to be major elements of the discussion.

Key Recent Developments
The new executive director of the CTED, Assistant Secretary-General Mike Smith of Australia, assumed office in mid-November. With this appointment coming so close to the original expiry of the CTED’s mandate in December, the Council decided in resolution 1787 to roll over the CTED mandate to 31 March. The Council requested Smith to submit recommended changes in the CTED’s organisation by 8 February.

In preparing his recommendations to the CTC, Smith undertook broad consultations, as promised in his statement to the CTC on 19 November. He has been consulting members of the CTC, the wider UN membership, the CTED staff and other UN counter-terrorism bodies, as well as drawing on discussions with counter-terrorism experts outside of the UN system.

Key Issues
In light of the concerns raised in 2006 in the CTC about the CTED’s effectiveness and its ability to facilitate technical assistance for counter-terrorism capacity-building, the following issues are expected to be discussed in the CTC.

  • CTED’s work methods. Both Council and non-Council members have expressed concern in the past about inconsistency and lack of even-handedness in concentrating on certain states and regions while ignoring others, including in the choice of states for country visits. Also, non-Council members have raised concerns about limited access to the CTC and the CTED.
  • Technical assistance facilitation. The facilitation of technical assistance for counter-terrorism capacity-building is one of the three principal areas of CTED’s responsibilities. There seems to be wide agreement that while the CTC and the CTED have achieved some success in their monitoring functions, much remains to be done with regard to facilitation of counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance.
  • Human rights dimension. The extent to which CTED should include a human rights dimension in its capacity-building for combating terrorism continues to be unsettled. The current review of CTED’s mandate may provide an opportunity for this issue to be resolved. (CTED has one human rights expert on its staff.) Some Council members consider that CTED, as it engages with states in evaluating their level of implementation of resolution 1373, should also be looking at whether those measures are consistent with international human rights norms and ensuring that capacity-building does not have the unintended consequence of undermining UN norms in this regard.
  • Incorporating the relevant areas of the UN Global Strategy. The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UN Global Strategy), which was adopted by the General Assembly on 8 September 2006, recognised the role of the CTC and CTED in efforts to combat terrorism. The CTED and the experts of the 1267 Committee (Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions) and the 1540 Committee (weapons of mass destruction) are already participating in the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, a grouping of some 24 UN bodies and agencies established by the Secretary-General to coordinate the UN’s role in the implementation of the UN Global Strategy. However, only CTED has staff available on a full-time basis to support counter-terrorism work within the UN system. The capacity for CTED to play a larger role in assisting the Secretariat and member states to implement the UN Global Strategy will therefore also be an important issue.

The issues which lie in the background and which may surface in discussions include:

  • whether there should be an open debate in the Council to receive views and input from the wider UN membership after the CTC has completed its work but before the issue is taken up by the Council;
  • whether the CTC, the 1540 Committee and the 1267 Committee should be merged forming a single, coherent monitoring function for the Council and, in the process, bringing together the different expert groups as well; and
  • whether the technical assistance aspects of CTED’s work would be better located under the auspices of UN bodies with much greater experience in dealing with technical assistance and perhaps be under the umbrella of the UN Global Strategy rather than the Security Council alone.

Council Dynamics
There are differences of approach within the Council on the role of CTC and CTED in the UN efforts against terrorism. In the past, the Council adopted a security focus and, for most permanent members, the monitoring aspect of CTED’s work should therefore take precedence. On the other hand, a succession of non-permanent members has taken the view that CTED should be doing much more in facilitating capacity-building. Some non-permanent members take an even more forward position, seeming to suggest that CTED should get out of assistance facilitation altogether and that its capacity and reserves in this regard should be transferred to other UN bodies and agencies better suited to providing technical assistance.

The issue of transparency, including an open meeting at a sufficiently early time to receive wider input, are also likely to become a significant part of the Council dynamics on the issue and may trigger requests from outside the Council as well.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1787 (10 December 2007) extended the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate to 31 March 2008.
  • S/RES/1624 (14 September 2005) mandated that all states must prohibit incitement to terrorism.
  • S/RES/1535 (26 March 2004) established the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate.
  • S/RES/1373 (28 September 2001) was the resolution creating obligations on all states to adopt certain counter-terrorism measures and established the CTC to monitor its implementation.

Other Relevant Documents

  • A/RES/60/288 (8 September 2006) was the General Assembly resolution adopting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Useful Additional Source

Eric Rosand, Alistair Millar and Jason Ipe, The UN Security Council’s Counterterrorism Program: What Lies Ahead?, International Peace Academy, October 2007

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