June 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 May 2008
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Counter-Terrorism: Al-Qaida and Taliban

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, which analyses the implementation of embargoes imposed on Al-Qaida and the Taliban, and assists the 1267 Committee. The Council may adopt changes in how its list of individuals and entities under sanctions is compiled and may discuss proposals to improve the process for delisting individuals. (Four European nations have raised concerns about lack of due process before the resolution is adopted.) The Council may also consider recommendations in a report by the Monitoring Team.

Key Facts
The Committee was established by resolution 1267 of 15 October 1999, which imposed an air embargo and an assets freeze on the Taliban, then in power in Afghanistan, for refusing to extradite Usama bin Laden, indicted for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa. The Committee’s operations were expanded and modified between 2000 and 2006. The sanctions now comprise an assets freeze, an arms embargo and a travel ban. They cover Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden, the Taliban and their associates or facilitators anywhere in the world. Targeted individuals and entities are placed on a “Consolidated List” on the Committee’s website.

The sanctions list as of 31 March had 482 entries: 142 individuals associated with the Taliban and 228 individuals and 112 entities associated with Al-Qaida. It included 12 people recorded as dead. In addition, seven others have been reported by states as deceased and public sources identify an additional 13 as dead.

Recent Developments
The eighth report of the Monitoring Team, released in May, makes recommendations for the Committee to review. Among them are:

  • Ensure the list has basic identifiers. (For example, 57 entries for individuals do not contain a full name and date of birth.)
  • Supply a list at regular intervals of individuals who have been especially active.
  • Review the names of people identified from various sources as dead each year.
  • Urge states to tell the Committee if a listed party is found to be using a false identity.
  • Give explicit guidance to states on assets freezes and on the economic resources of entities, to achieve a uniform approach.
  • Consider a permanent “enquiry point” at the UN to deal with questions that arise at border entry points (proposed by Interpol).
  • Conclude high-level agreements on the travel sanctions with organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Air Transport Association and the World Customs Organisation.
  • Consider a Security Council prohibition requiring member states to prevent their nationals from participating in military or paramilitary activities with entities on the list. This is not explicit in resolutions to date.
  • Consider adding the Al-Shabab group to the list. It has claimed more than twenty attacks in Somalia since September 2007, including the beheading of three government soldiers. (The US has designated it as a foreign terrorist group).
  • Urge states to take appropriate legal action and practical measures to prevent terrorists from using the Internet to recruit bomb makers, raise funds and distribute material inciting violence.

On 5 May, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Sweden and Switzerland proposed to the Committee that it create an expert panel “governed by general principles of international law” and composed of three to five people with experience in handling confidential information. The panel would review delisting requests and take a decision within a timeframe, e.g. three months. A final decision would still be up to the Committee, which includes all 15 Council members, each with veto rights.

The Council could accept some of the recommendations from the Monitoring Team and include them in the resolution, particularly those on updating the lists. Alternatively, the Council could also take a more comprehensive view and ask the Committee to consider engaging outside experts to evaluate delisting requests and set timelines to respond to petitioners.

Council Dynamics
Council members are ready for changes. British Ambassador John Sawers in a Council debate on 6 May was blunt in saying the procedures needed to be “efficient and effective,” and added, “At present they are not.“ He said, “Our ability to remove individuals that no longer meet the criteria is as important as listing additional names that do.” Even the US, which has submitted a long list of names and entities, has told the Council that the Taliban names excluded new leaders and included one who had switched sides. Many non-permanent members are open to proposals for an outside independent panel. But consensus will be hard to reach. The five permanent members may be reluctant to agree on a panel that might be seen as limiting their authority.

Underlying Problems
In March, the UN reported a 30 percent rise in “insurgent and terrorist” activity in Afghanistan in 2007 from a year earlier. The popular appeal of Al-Qaida’s leadership appears to be waning but the group continues to flourish in many countries, inspired by a message of resistance to actual or perceived injustices, the Monitoring Team said.

For the Committee, an underlying issue is the growing challenges to the sanctions regime in domestic courts. The Court of Justice of the European Communities has several pending cases. A decision there could affect implementation of the sanctions in 27 EU nations. Actions have also been brought in the US and Pakistan. In the UK, the High Court on 24 April quashed orders against five petitioners, whose assets were frozen, saying that the UN procedures for listing and delisting do “not begin to achieve fairness for the person who is listed.”

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1730 (19 December 2006) established “a focal point” within the Secretariat to process submissions for delisting under Council resolutions involving targeted sanctions.
  • S/RES/1617 (29 July 2005) significantly broadened the mandate of the 1267 Committee and the Monitoring Team, further defined the sanctions’ primary targets and elaborated on delisting procedures.
  • S/RES/1526 (30 January 2004) strengthened the mandate of the Committee, refined applicable sanctions measures and established the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.
  • S/RES/1267 (15 October 1999) introduced a freeze on the financial resources of the Taliban and established the 1267 Committee.

Selected Reports

  • S/2008/324 (13 May 2008) is the 8th report of the Committee’s Monitoring Team.
  • S/2008/25 (8 January 2008) is the Committee’s report on its activities for the year 2007.
  • S/2008/16 (8 January 2008) is the Committees position on recommendations from its expert Monitoring Team.

Selected Security Council Debate Records

  • S/PV.5886 (6 May 2008) is the transcript of the Council debate at which the chairs of the counter-terrorism committees briefed members.
  • S/PV.5779 (14 November 2007) is the transcript of the Council debate at which the chairs of the three counter-terrorism committees briefed the Council.

Useful Additional Sources

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