Expected Council Action
As president of the Security Council in January 2021, Tunisia is organising a debate on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, focusing on international cooperation in combating terrorism. The debate is intended to commemorate 20 years since the adoption of resolution 1373 in 2001, that, among other things, placed barriers on the movement, organisation and fund-raising activities of terrorist groups and their supporters and established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). A presidential statement is a possible outcome.
On 28 September 2001, following the terrorist attacks that took place in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001, the Security Council adopted resolution 1373, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The resolution set out various measures to be implemented by member states to address the threat of terrorism in a global, coordinated and comprehensive manner. These included criminalising the financing of terrorism; freezing without delay any funds related to persons involved in acts of terrorism; denying all forms of financial support for terrorist groups; suppressing the provision of safe haven, sustenance or support for terrorists; sharing information with other governments on any groups practising or planning terrorist acts; cooperating with other governments in the investigation, detection, arrest, extradition and prosecution of those involved in such acts; criminalising active and passive assistance for terrorism in domestic law and bringing violators to justice; and implementing effective border-control measures. The resolution also established the CTC, a subsidiary body composed of all 15 Council members and initially chaired by the UK, to monitor implementation of the resolution by member states.
Since then, the Council has adopted over 20 resolutions that pertain to the issue, with the majority of these being adopted in the past five years. Some earlier relevant resolutions include resolution 1535, adopted in March 2004, establishing the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) as a special political mission to assist the CTC in its work. Resolution 1624, adopted in September 2005, prohibited incitement to commit terrorist acts while resolution 2178, adopted in September 2014, dealt with countering foreign terrorist fighters and countering violent extremism.
The CTC and CTED use various tools to monitor and facilitate the implementation of the relevant resolutions. For example, CTED conducts country visits on the committee’s behalf to assess member states’ counter-terrorism efforts. These visits can include experts from relevant international, regional and subregional organisations, such as the AU, the EU, the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organisation on combating money laundering), the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Criminal Police Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, the World Customs Organization, and other specialised bodies and institutions. In addition to country visits, assessment tools used include the Detailed Implementation Survey and the Overview of Implementation Assessment. CTED’s mandate was most recently renewed until 31 December 2021 by resolution 2395 of 2017.
The CTC also holds regular closed and open briefings. Last year, for example, the CTC held an open videoconference (VTC) briefing on 9 October 2020 on “Emerging trends in violent extremism conducive to terrorism and addressing violent extremism through a human rights-based approach”, and on 15 October 2020, it held a closed VTC meeting on maritime security. On 23 November 2020, the Council received its annual briefing from the chairs of its counter-terrorism-related committees, including a briefing by Ambassador Tarek Ladeb (Tunisia), chair of the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee.
While progress has been made in the last two decades, terrorism continues to pose a threat to international peace and security, requiring collective action on national, regional and international levels. The January 2021 debate presents the opportunity to assess progress made since the adoption of resolution 1373 and to highlight possible gaps and challenges. The debate could also serve to highlight future priority areas.
Some key issues that may be addressed at the debate include compliance by member states with the relevant resolutions, including resolution 1373, and how the Council can support the work of the CTC. Another issue is how to further facilitate cooperation among the CTC and CTED, other subsidiary bodies of the Council and relevant specialised bodies and institutions.
A further issue relates to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on efforts to combat terrorism. While negotiating resolution 2532 on COVID-19, penholders France and Tunisia had to address concerns by Russia and the US that a Council endorsement of the Secretary-General’s global ceasefire call should include an exemption for counter-terrorism operations. The resolution consequently specified that a ceasefire and humanitarian pause do not apply to military operations against ISIL, Al-Qaida and Al-Nusra Front, and other terrorist groups that have been designated by the Council. (In June 2020, CTED published a paper titled “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on terrorism, countering terrorism and countering violent extremism”. The paper noted that terrorist groups are exploiting the pandemic to further their propaganda and narratives.)
The US is the penholder on counter-terrorism. Ambassador Tarek Ladeb (Tunisia) chairs the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee for the period 2020-2021.
UN DOCUMENTS ON COUNTER-TERRORISM
|Security Council Resolutions|
|1 July 2020S/RES/2532||This resolution demanded a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on the Council’s agenda and called upon all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a 90-day humanitarian pause.|
|19 July 2019S/RES/2482||This was on the nexus between terrorism and international organised crime.|
|21 December 2017S/RES/2395||This resolution renewed the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) until 31 December 2021.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|11 March 2020S/PRST/2020/5||This presidential statement was adopted during a debate entitled “Countering terrorism and extremism in Africa” under the agenda item “Peace and security in Africa”, a signature event of China’s Council presidency.|
|Security Council Letter|
|27 March 2020S/2020/243||This was from the chair of the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee, containing its programme of work for 2020.|
|23 December 2020|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|11 March 2020S/PV.8743||This was a debate entitled “Countering terrorism and extremism in Africa” under the agenda item “Peace and security in Africa”, a signature event of China’s Council presidency.|