December 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2017
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Counter-Terrorism

Expected Council Action

The Council is expected to adopt a resolution in December renewing the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), the Secretariat body that assists the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC).

CTED’s mandate expires on 31 December.

In addition, The Council may also adopt a resolution on the issue of foreign terrorist fighters returning home or travelling to other regions.

In accordance with resolution 2368, the Council may consider an update from the Secretariat on its restructuring plans as they relate to the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.

Background

On 28 September 2001, the Council adopted resolution 1373, in which, acting under Chapter VII, it decided that all states should prevent and criminalise the financing of terrorist acts and the support of entities or persons involved in terrorist acts. The Council called upon member states to intensify cooperation on movements of terrorists and on administrative and judicial matters to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, and it established the CTC to monitor the implementation of the measures. On 26 March 2004, resolution 1535 established CTED as a special political mission to support the work of the CTC. The directorate has also been involved in assessing the implementation of resolutions 1373 and 1624 (the latter called upon member states to criminalise the incitement to commit terrorist acts).

On 17 December 2013, the Council adopted resolution 2129, renewing CTED’s mandate for four years as a special political mission under the policy guidance of the CTC for the period ending 31 December 2017. The resolution underlined CTED’s crucial role in supporting the committee in the fulfilment of its mandate. It encouraged CTED to continue to work with states and regional and subregional organisations to facilitate technical assistance.

Resolution 2129 further underscored the essential role of CTED in assessing issues and trends relating to the implementation of resolution 1373. It directed CTED to identify related emerging issues, trends and developments in consultation with relevant partners, and to advise the CTC on practical ways for states to implement these resolutions.

In addition, the Council has given CTED mandates in six resolutions adopted in recent years to consider specific aspects of terrorism, such as foreign terrorist fighters and countering violent extremism.  

In accordance with the recommendation of the Secretary-General, the General Assembly adopted resolution 71/291 on 15 June establishing the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT), headed by a new Under-Secretary-General. It was decided that this official would also serve as chair of the UN Task Force and executive director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre. Among other things, the office is to enhance coordination and coherence across the 38 UN entities comprising the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force; strengthen the delivery of UN counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to member states; and ensure that due priority is given to counter-terrorism across the UN system and that preventing violent extremism is firmly rooted in the UN Global Counter-Terrorism strategy. The office is to maintain a close relationship with the Security Council, strengthening existing links and developing new partnerships.

On 28 September, Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the newly created OCT; the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), Ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt), and David Scharia, deputy head of CTED’s Assessment and Technical Assistance Office, briefed the Council. (The new CTED executive director, Michèle Coninsx of Belgium, had yet to assume her position.)

Voronkov conveyed his intention to work closely with the Committee and CTED, among others, to promote implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and all relevant Security Council resolutions. Scharia said that CTED looked forward to discussing ways to strengthen its cooperation with the OCT.

Scharia gave an overview of CTED’s work in assisting the CTC to monitor the implementation of the relevant Council resolutions; identify states’ technical assistance needs; work with partners to facilitate the delivery of targeted assistance with a view to strengthening states’ counter-terrorism capacities; and identify emerging issues, trends and developments related to resolutions 1373 and 1624. As part of that process, he noted that CTED had conducted 133 visits to 96 states.

Scharia added that these tasks were stretching CTED’s capacity and resources to the maximum and, therefore, expressed the wish that the Council would provide it with the resources required to fulfil its significantly expanded mandate. He also asked the Council to consider ways to encourage states to implement CTC recommendations, especially in cases where lack of implementation is not the result of lack of capacity.

 

Key Recent Developments

On 28 November, the Council was briefed by Voronkov, Coninsx and the Chair of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan) Sanctions Committee on the issue of foreign terrorist fighters returning home or travelling to other regions.

 

At press time, the Council was scheduled to meet on 30 November on the “destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage by terrorist groups and in situations of armed conflict”. Briefers were expected to be Voronkov, Coninsx, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, and President of the International Criminal Police Organization, INTERPOL, Meng Hongwei.

Key Issues and Options

With respect to CTED’s mandate renewal, the main issue for the Council is to ensure the widespread implementation of resolution 1373, including the criminalisation of terrorism, the freezing of terrorism-related assets, and effective border and arms control. A related issue is ensuring the implementation of resolution 1624 to prevent acts of incitement to commit terrorism. The Council may choose to elaborate on measures and procedures to be followed when CTED reports a failure to implement the resolutions.

Another issue is the relationship between the newly established OCT and CTED. The Council may present its view on the division of labour between the two and how they should best cooperate to ensure effective and coherent counter-terrorism activities, avoiding duplication of efforts.

The scope of CTED’s work with respect to identifying emerging issues, trends and developments, particularly while engaging with non-state actors, may be an issue. The Council may retain this mandate as is or narrow its scope to focus more on assessments of state implementation.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members are in general agreement about the importance and usefulness of CTED’s work and about the need for an extension of its mandate. Regarding substance, CTED’s core mandate of assessment of state implementation, gaps in implementation, and needs for assistance is unlikely to change.

The mandate to identify emerging trends in “consultation with relevant partners” has enabled CTED to engage with NGOs and academia, among others. Some Council members see this interaction as a critical element of CTED’s ability to properly analyse and identify emerging developments and advise the CTC on ways to address these issues and implement the relevant resolutions. Russia, however, takes the view that this mandate is too wide and that CTED should be focused on state implementation through its assessment of and interaction with states, rather than engaging with a wider array of actors.

CTED’s request for more resources to perform the expanding list of Council-mandated tasks comes at a time when Council members are particularly reluctant to expand special political missions and their expenditures. That said, there seems to be common ground among Council members that CTED is overstretched and that some expansion is warranted.

On foreign terrorist fighters, there is general agreement among Council members that there is a need for the Council to address the increasing threat from their return to their home countries or travel to other conflict zones.

The US is the penholder on this issue.

 

UN DOCUMENTS ON COUNTER-TERRORISM

Security Council Resolutions
17 December 2013 S/RES/2129 This resolution renewed the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate for four years.
14 September 2005 S/RES/1624 This resolution called on states to take further measures to combat terrorism.
26 March 2004 S/RES/1535 This resolution established the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED).
28 September 2001 S/RES/1373 This resolution placed barriers on the movement, organisation and fund-raising activities of terrorist groups and imposed legislative, policy and reporting requirements on member states to assist the global struggle against terrorism. It also established a Counter-Terrorism Committee to monitor state compliance with these provisions.
Security Council Meeting Records
28 September 2017 S/PV.8059 Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the newly-created UN Office of Counter-Terrorism; Ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt) and David Scharia, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate Deputy Head of the Assessment and Technical Assistance Office briefed the Council.
Security Council Press Statements
21 October 2017 SC/13039 This was a press statement condemning the 20 October terrorist attack in El Wahat desert, Egypt, where a large number of policemen were killed and injured.
General Assembly Documents
15 June 2017 A/RES/71/291 This was a resolution that established the UN Counter-Terrorism Office headed by a new Under-Secretary-General.