May 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2012
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THEMATIC ISSUES

High-Level Event on Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Attacks

Expected Council Action
In May, the Council is expected to hold a high-level event on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev is expected to preside; other Council members may be represented by high-level officials.

The Secretary-General is likely to brief the Council. (The Secretary-General’s third report on the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy is due by the end of April, and may feature in his briefing).

The Council is likely to adopt a presidential statement.

Background
The last Council high-level event on counterterrorism was held on 27 September 2010, at the initiative of Turkey, after which the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2010/19).

The statement underlined the need to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, recognising that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. The statement also stressed the importance of assisting victims of terrorism. The Council expressed concern at the increase in incidences of kidnapping with the aim of raising funds or gaining political concessions, called on states to improve cooperation to prevent the movement of terrorist groups to and from their territories and encouraged the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and its Executive Directorate (CTED) to continue facilitating technical assistance to states, in particular in close cooperation with the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). The statement reiterated the need to enhance cooperation among the Council’s counter-terrorism committees (1267 Committee, CTC and 1540 Committee). It also reiterated the Council’s support for the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the institutionalisation of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Taskforce and encouraged member states to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

In the last few years, the Council has reacted with press statements to numerous different terrorist attacks. Statements made since the beginning of 2012 include:

  • On 25 January it condemned the multiple terrorist attacks that occurred in Kano, Nigeria, on 20 January. More than 170 people were reported dead after a series of attacks by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
  • On 23 February, it condemned a terrorist attack aimed at Israel’s diplomatic personnel in New Delhi, India, which resulted in injuries to diplomatic personnel and civilians, and an attempted terrorist attack on Israeli diplomats in Tbilisi, Georgia.
  • On 7 March, it condemned the terrorist attacks in Abyan province, Yemen. In one attack, on 4 March, the Al-Qaida-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) reportedly attacked a military post in Zinjibar that led to the death of at least 185 government soldiers and the capture of 72 soldiers.
  • On 21 March, the Council condemned the terrorist attacks in Syria—in Damascus on 17 and 19 March and in Aleppo on 18 March— that claimed the lives of dozens.

Recent counter-terrorism related events have also reportedly taken place in Azerbaijan, the Council President in May . According to media reports, on 14 March, authorities arrested 22 Azeri citizens suspected of spying for Iran and plotting to attack Western embassies and companies. The arrests came two months after two men were arrested in Azerbaijan, on suspicion that they plotted attacks against foreign targets, including the Israeli ambassador and a local rabbi.

On 10 April, Azerbaijan circulated a concept paper that was prepared for the May event among Council members. The paper aims to focus the discussion on strengthening international cooperation in the implementation of counter-terrorism obligations. In particular, it notes that the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy is disparate and calls for a discussion of better implementation of the global strategy by providing increased technical assistance and capacity-building to states, including through rule-of-law initiatives aimed at developing national criminal systems and interstate legal cooperation and assistance. It notes the importance of improving coordination within UN bodies and consolidating UN counter-terrorism efforts. In this context, the paper supports the appointment of a UN counter-terrorism coordinator, a recommendation also made by the Secretary-General in his five-year action agenda delivered to the General Assembly on 25 January. (On 22 September 2004, Costa Rica (S/2004/758) had initially proposed the establishment of a UN High Commissioner on Terrorism to “eliminating duplication, unifying resources, and centralising decision-making”). The paper also raises the relevance of implementation of counter-terrorism obligations through regional organisations and the best practices of member states.

Key Issues
A key issue is finding ways to keep the Council’s counter-terrorism efforts—carried out mostly by several of its subsidiary bodies—on Council members’ minds and within the public eye.  

Another issue is strengthening capacity-building and assistance to states by the Council’s counter-terrorism committees and by the UN at large for better implementation of their obligations.

Options
Options for the Council include: 

  • adopting a presidential statement addressing conditions conducive to terrorism, cooperation among states, coherence within the UN in dealing with terrorism issues and enhancing state capacity to address terrorist threats;
  • adopting a more general presidential statement reiterating the Council’s commitment to combating terrorism;
  • issuing a press statement to that effect; or
  • taking no action at this time (less likely).

Council Dynamics
Currently, counter-terrorism issues are usually found on the Council’s programme of work every six months, when the Council is briefed by the chairmen of its three counter-terrorism committees—the 1267/1989 Committee, the CTC and the 1540 Committee. In addition, the Council usually issues press statements to condemn specific terrorist attacks. On occasion, specific counter-terrorism issues, such as mandate renewals of expert groups, are also found on the programme of work.

Several Council members feel, therefore, that the Council’s counter-terrorism efforts should be streamlined in order to make these efforts more visible to the public. To some members, one way to make the Council’s role more visible is to hold high-level events every so often, in particular because more than two years have passed since the last high-level event on counter-terrorism in the Council.

At press time, Azerbaijan had circulated a draft presidential statement among Council members, and experts have started meeting to discuss the draft. Some Council members are concerned with what they perceive to be the wide scope of the draft, expressing the view that the Council should not encroach on counter-terrorism-related issues under the mandate of the General Assembly by addressing them in its presidential statements. Furthermore, some states are of the opinion that the draft statement should avoid touching upon sensitive issues such as state-sponsored terrorism.

For some members, a consensus document emphasising the importance of enhanced international cooperation in the implementation of counter-terrorism obligations and reiterating previous Council statements in this field would be a positive outcome.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1977 (20 April 2011) renewed the mandate of the 1540 Committee for ten years.
  • S/RES/1963 (20 December 2010) extended the mandate of CTED until 31 December 2013.
  • S/RES/1624 (14 September 2005) called on states to take measures to prohibit by law and prevent acts of incitement to commit terrorism.
  • S/RES/1540 (28 April 2004) established the 1540 Committee and its mandate.
  • 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 mandate.

Security Council Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2012/8 (29 March 2012) was on the political process in Yemen.
  • S/PRST/2010/19 (27 September 2010) was on the various aspects of combating terrorism.

Latest Meeting Record

Security Council Press Statements  

  • SC/10585 (21 March 2012) was on attacks in Syria.
  • SC/10571 (7 March 2012) was on attacks in Yemen.
  • SC/10556 (23 February 2012) was on an attack in India and attempted attack in Georgia.
  • SC/10530 (25 January 2012) was on attacks in Nigeria.

Other

  • S/2004/758 (22 September 2004) was the Costa Rican proposal on a UN High Commissioner on Terrorism.

Full forecast