March 2008 Monthly Forecast

Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to extend the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) before it expires on 31 March, and to approve its new organisational plan. The Council is expected to endorse, perhaps in an annex to the resolution, the reorganisation plan prepared by Mike Smith of Australia, the new executive director of CTED, the body of experts that advises the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). A public debate when the resolution, to be drafted by the US, is adopted is a possibility.

Key Recent Developments
The executive director has presented a new organisational plan to the CTC as requested in resolution 1787 of 10 December, which extended the CTED’s mandate until 31 March. The CTED’s first organisational plan in 2004 was based on resolution 1535, which established the expert group in 2004. This plan has now been updated and approved by members of the CTC, with some revisions.

The updates deal with the prohibition on incitement to terrorism as called for in resolution 1624 of September 2005 as well as with human rights concerns in the context of resolution 1373. The document also emphasises the CTED’s participation in the Secretary-General’s Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which is composed of 24 UN agencies working to implement a global counter-terrorism strategy. Other recommendations concern internal operations, some of which meet the Council’s criticisms as voiced during a December 2006 review.

Reorganisation Plan
Highlights of the recommendations of the CTED’s working methods and changes in its operational structure are as follows:

  1. Consistency and quality in work output: Participants from each geographical team with the technical expertise required by resolutions 1373 (which established the CTC after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US) and 1624 will be tasked with reviewing all documents produced by the CTED “to bring greater consistency and conformity of judgment” before they are released. These changes are aimed at ensuring consistency and quality in CTED’s work output.
  2. Flexibility in country visits: There will be tailor-made and focused visits to regions whose countries are identified as suffering from “a certain common vulnerability.” This might involve short visits to several capitals in succession or a subregional meeting in one central location. The CTED is proposing to increase the number of countries visited each year by cutting back on the scope of each visit.
  3. Improvement in cross-cluster management:Duties of the current three geographical clusters, or teams, are to be reassigned. Each cluster leader will be responsible for developing strategies, conducting a dialogue with countries involved after a preliminary assessment and identifying countries for future visits as well as spelling out the focus of such visits.
  4. Cross-cutting technical groups: Establishing five cross-cutting groups for technical assistance; terrorist financing; border security, arms trafficking and law enforcement; legal issues (such as legislation, mutual legal assistance, and extradition); as well as issues related to the prohibition of incitement to commit acts of terrorism and to human rights. Each technical group will consist of the experts from each of the three geographical clusters, who are expected to agree on common standards to be applied across the board. In particular:

Technical assistance: In response to repeated concerns about weaknesses in CTED’s technical assistance, this area will be led by the Head of the Technical Assistance Office, who is also the CTED deputy executive director. The technical assistance group is expected to review current strategies and develop a strategy to engage with donors involved in technical assistance.
Resolution 1624 and the human rights aspects of counter-terrorism: On the incitement of terrorism and human rights, a group will be established to see how it can advise the CTC to assist states to address such issues. The CTED intends to respond to concerns that any measures states take to combat terrorism comply with obligations under international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

Council and Wider Dynamics
The reorganisation plan and renewal of the mandate may be discussed in a public debate. It is unclear whether this debate would be open to allow non-Council members to speak. Some elected Council members have been pushing for consultations with the wider UN membership, an approach that has not gained favour among all the permanent members. The argument against broader consultation is that CTED’s mandate is technical in nature and discussion in an open forum would not be appropriate. However, others argue that public consultations would facilitate wider support for the work of CTC and CTED among UN members.

Several members and non-members expressed concerns about a number of issues related to CTC and CTED in a debate on the counter-terrorism committees on 14 November. Among these concerns were the lack of interaction between the CTC and the wider UN membership. The CTED was urged to improve its relationship with non-members, especially those who are donors. It was pointed out that those efforts were needed for this relationship to be better structured and further enhanced. Delegates also questioned the method of selecting countries to visit, saying they were mostly in the developing world, and called for even-handedness in the process. And some asked whether the CTED was the appropriate body in the UN system to facilitate counter-terrorism technical assistance.

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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 and endorsed CTED’s original organisational plan.
  • S/RES/1373 (28 September 2001) created obligations on all states to adopt certain counter-terrorism measures and established the CTC to monitor its implementation.

Other Relevant Documents

  • S/2008/80 (8 February 2008) contained the organisational plan for the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.
  • S/PV.5779 (14 November 2007) was the verbatim record of the Council debate on the “Briefings by Chairmen of subsidiary bodies of the Security Council.”
  • A/RES/60/288 (8 September 2006) was the General Assembly Resolution adopting the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
  • S/2004/642 (12 August 2004) was the first Organisational Plan for the CTED.

Full forecast

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