May 2008 Monthly Forecast

Counter-Terrorism: Briefings to the Council

Expected Council Action
Twice a year the Council is briefed by the chairs of its three counter-terrorism committees. The next briefing is expected on 6 May when the chairs of the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee (the 1267 Committee), the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC, established under resolution 1373) and the 1540 Committee (non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction) will address the Council. The joint briefings started in April 2005 and usually include a debate extended to all UN member states. No formal outcome is expected.

Recent Developments
The 1267 Committee(Al-Qaida and Taliban)is likely to report on problems that some member states have in complying with the sanctions, improvements to its list of individuals and entities subject to sanctions, the criminal use of the Internet and a follow-up on reports from its support group, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (Monitoring Team). The group’s 8th report is currently in translation and its mandate expires at the end of June.

The Council on 15 October 1999 in resolution 1267 imposed an air embargo and an assets freeze on the Taliban, which was then the de facto Afghan government, for refusing to extradite Usama bin Laden in connection with the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The sanctions are monitored by the 1267 Committee and were expanded in subsequent years and now cover Al-Qaida, Bin Laden and/or the Taliban, their associates or facilitators anywhere in the world. They now include an assets freeze, an arms embargo and a travel ban. Targeted individuals and entities are indentified by the Committee and placed on the consolidated list on the Committee’s website.

A group of UN member states critical of the procedures which the Committee uses for listing and delisting targeted individuals intends to present a proposal for an independent judicial review panel to the Committee before the Council takes up the 1267 issues in a June resolution. (Please see our Update Report of 21 April for a more detailed discussion of the 1267 Committee.) (On 24 April, the British High Court of Justice ruled in favor of five men who challenged UK orders to implement the assets freeze. The Court said the evidence relied on suspicion, not proof, and that the suspects had had no opportunity to challenge the listing. The government is appealing.)

The Counter-Terrorism Committee, established on 28 September 2001, in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the United States, has revamped its organisational plans for its support team of experts, known as the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). On 20 March, the Council adopted resolution 1805 that welcomed the new CTED recommendations and extended its mandate until 31 December 2010.

The CTC monitors implementation of measures that all countries need to take to combat terrorism, deny suspected terrorists safe haven and financial resources and bring perpetrators to justice. The CTED which supports the Committee now spends less time on determining whether member states have enacted the necessary legislation and machinery and more time on evaluating the effectiveness of states’ actions.

At the May briefing the Chairman, Ambassador Neven Jurica of Croatia, is expected to report on the more than 170 assessments prepared by the CTED on how member states have implemented the resolution. Called Preliminary Implementation Assessments, these documents are aimed at reducing the need for continual requests to member states to update reports. The new assessments will seek to match every country’s performance with a set of criteria, make note of human rights abuses, gaps that other UN bodies have identified, and anti-terrorism conventions that the country has ratified. The CTED has prepared a table on its findings of how countries have implemented the resolution, which the Committee is reviewing before submitting an official report to the Council. But this table is not expected to be published at this time so as to avoid any sense that member states are being publicly “named and shamed.”

The mandate of the 1540 Committee on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism was extended by the Council in resolution 1810 on 25 April for three years, to 25 April 2011. The Committee was also given another two months, until 31 July, to submit its next report on its work, now nearly complete.

The Council adopted resolution 1540 in April 2004 in an effort to close a loophole benefiting would-be proliferators, terrorists and other non-state actors not covered under the treaties on the proliferation of nuclear arms (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty), chemical weapons (Chemical Weapons Convention) and biological arms (Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention). Resolution 1540 requires all countries to establish strong export controls and demands they protect sensitive materials that can be used to develop, manufacture, acquire, transport or traffic in unconventional weapons and their delivering systems. (The measure was spurred, in part, after it was disclosed that the Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan had been involved in disseminating nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.) The 1540 Committee was established to monitor implementation.

By the end of 2007, more than 140 states had submitted their first reports to the Committee. But many states have not reported at all, either because of lack of capacity or because of what diplomats call “reporting fatigue.” Committee members, however, say that reporting is not an end in itself and their primary role is investigating implementation. Their sources include not only country reports but also documents from the International Atomic Energy Agency and other official sources. The investigations include dual use technology and raw materials such as natural unranium. It is possible that the Chairman, Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, in his briefing may report on a matrix that experts are developing based on information nations have reported to the Committee and other UN bodies or conventions.

Terrorism Issues in the Wider UN System
Council members and others listening to the briefings on 6 May will also have in mind the General Assembly Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy which was adopted in September 2006. This subject will be on the General Assembly agenda again in September this year. In response to the strategy, a Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, comprising some 24 UN bodies and agencies, was established within the Secretariat but as yet the General Assembly has not dedicated any Secretariat resources or staff to the task force. Nor has it established concrete tasks to flesh out the strategy. A representative of each of the Security Council monitoring mechanisms supporting the three Council counter-terrorism committees participates in the meetings of the Task Force. There are some, in both the Council and the General Assembly, who consider that there is significant scope for rationalisation of capacity, resources and tasks between these bodies.

Council Dynamics
On the surface, it is apparent to most observers that there is an overlap of duties and responsibilities among the three counter- terrorism committees, despite their individual mandates. Particularly vocal on this issue is South Africa’s ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, who told the Council in November that “continuing with separate mandates will only perpetuate duplication, waste resources and result in confusion among member states.” But there appears to be little political support for restructuring, especially among the permanent members that were instrumental in drafting the resolutions that created the committees and their respective expert groups.

In general there is wide support in the Council for the tasks of all three committees. On the 1267 Committee, as indicated above, there is growing support outside the Council for an independent judicial panel to review delisting applications. But so far the permanent members are opposed to any new body that would encroach on the Council’s prerogatives. As for the Counter-Terrorism Committee, Council members are divided about how effective public disclosure will be as a tool to enhance compliance. As a result, there are some differences about whether to make public its survey of compliance and implementation among member states.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1810 (25 April 2008) extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee until 25 April 2011.
  • S/RES/1805 (20 March 2008) extended the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate to 31 December 2010.
  • S/RES/1540 (28 April 2004) established the 1540 Committee and its mandate of keeping weapons of mass destruction away from non-state actors.
  • S/RES/1535 (26 March 2004) established the CTED.
  • S/RES/1373 (28 September 2001) established the CTC and its mandate.
  • S/RES/1267 (15 October 1999) established the Al-Qaida and Taliban Committee and its sanctions mandate (modified and enhanced by subsequent resolutions).

Security Council Debate Records

  • S/PV.5855 (19 March 2008) is the transcript of the debate on the CTED and its revamped organisational plan as described in S/2008/80 (7 February 2008).
  • S/PV.5806 (17 December 2007) is a transcript of the last open debate in which the chairs of all the Security Council committees spoke to the Council.
  • S/PV.5779 (14 November 2007) is the transcript of the meeting of the Security Council debate at which the chairs of the three counter-terrorism committees briefed the Council.

Other Relevant Facts

Committeee Chairs are:

  • Ambassador Neven Jurica (Croatia): CTC (1373)
  • Ambassador Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica): 1540 Committee (WMD)
  • Ambassador Johan Verbeke (Belgium): 1267 Committee (Al-Qaida and Taliban)

Useful Additional Sources

Full forecast