Expected Council Action
In December, the Council is scheduled to receive its annual briefing from the chairs of its counter-terrorism committees: Ambassador Trine Heimerback (Norway), chair of the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee; Ambassador Tarek Ladeb (Tunisia), chair of the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC); and Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico), chair of the 1540 Committee.
The Council is expected to adopt two resolutions concerning counter-terrorism in December. The first will renew the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), and the second will update the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL and Al-Qaeda sanctions regime, including by renewing the mandates of the 1267/1988 Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (Monitoring Team) and the Office of the Ombudsperson.
1373 Committee and Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate
On 28 September 2001, the Council adopted resolution 1373, which, among other matters, decided that all states shall prevent and criminalise the financing of terrorist acts and called on member states to cooperate on administrative and judicial matters to prevent the commission of terrorist acts. Resolution 1373 also established the CTC and directed it to monitor the implementation of the measures outlined in the resolution. On 26 March 2004, resolution 1535 established CTED as a special political mission to support the work of the CTC by, among other things, enhancing the CTC’s ability to monitor the implementation of resolution 1373. CTED has since worked to fulfil this mandate by conducting country visits that assess member states’ counter-terrorism efforts and producing reports that outline CTED’s findings and make recommendations for the relevant member state to consider.
Over time, CTED’s mandate has gradually expanded. A series of resolutions has directed it to undertake additional tasks, including:
- assessing the implementation of resolution 1624, which called on member states to criminalise the incitement to commit terrorist acts;
- identifying emerging issues, trends and developments related to resolutions 1373 and 1624; and
- advising the CTC on practical ways for states to implement these resolutions.
The Council has also encouraged CTED to consider various thematic issues, such as the impact of terrorism on children and children’s rights, and to facilitate technical assistance to member states.
CTED’s mandate was last renewed on 21 December 2017 when resolution 2395 was adopted. Among other matters, this resolution sought to delineate the various cross-cutting tasks allocated to CTED in different resolutions and reiterated that CTED’s essential role includes identifying and assessing issues, trends, and developments relating to the implementation of several Council resolutions relating to counter-terrorism, including resolutions 1373 and 1624. Resolution 2395 also described how CTED should cooperate with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), which was established by the General Assembly on 15 June 2017.
1267/1989/2253 ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Regime
On 17 December 2015, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2253, which reformulated the Al-Qaeda sanctions regime in light of the threat posed by ISIL, including by strengthening different aspects of the regime and renaming its sanctions list the “ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda Sanctions List”. This resolution also requested the Secretary-General to bolster the Ombudsperson “by providing necessary resources” and making “necessary arrangements to ensure its continued ability to carry out its mandate”. The Ombudsperson reviews requests for removal from the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions List.
The Council subsequently adopted resolution 2368 of 20 July 2017, which was intended to further strengthen the regime. This resolution focused on addressing the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters, Al-Qaeda and ISIL’s human trafficking activities, kidnappings conducted by Al-Qaeda and ISIL, and the financing of Al-Qaeda and ISIL’s operations. It also reiterated the request for the Secretary-General to provide the Ombudsperson with “necessary resources” and extended the mandates of both the Ombudsperson and the Monitoring Team until December 2021. The Monitoring Team supports the work of the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions Committee, including by submitting written reports on various issues, assisting the Ombudsperson, and regularly reviewing names on the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions List.
On 29 December 2020, the Council adopted resolution 2560. Recognising “the need to take measures to increase fairness, and the effectiveness of the rules and procedures of the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions Committee”, this resolution requested the Monitoring Team to study the exemptions to the asset freeze measures outlined in resolution 2368 and provide recommendations as to whether the exemptions should be updated.
The current Ombudsperson, Daniel Kipfer Fasciati, presented his resignation to the Secretary-General on 3 June, effective 17 December. In his resignation letter, Fasciati expressed regret that it had not been possible to create an “institutionally independent Office and to grant the Ombudsperson the contractual arrangements appropriate for the function, its status, and its independence”.
Adopted in 2004, resolution 1540 aims to address the concern that non-state actors might use weapons of mass destruction for terrorist purposes. Among other matters, it imposes obligations on all member states to adopt legislation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery and to establish appropriate controls over related materials to prevent their illicit trafficking. Resolution 1540 also created the 1540 Committee, which is responsible for reporting to the Council regarding its implementation.
Resolution 2325, which was adopted on 15 December 2016, decided that the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions Committee, the 1373 Committee and the 1540 Committee would brief the Council jointly on their cooperation once a year.
Key Issues and Options
The structure of the Office of the Ombudsperson and the way in which the Ombudsperson works are key issues for the Council ahead of the renewal of the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions regime. Given the concerns Fasciati raised in his resignation letter about the Ombudsperson’s lack of institutional independence, the Council may wish to consider reformulating the Ombudsperson as a distinct entity. The Office of the Ombudsperson is currently part of the Security Council Subsidiary Organs Branch. The Council could also choose to call for the allocation of more resources to the Ombudsperson.
The Council is expected to review the Monitoring Team’s recommendations regarding the exemptions to the asset freeze measures in resolution 2368, which were outlined in the Monitoring Team’s report to the Council earlier this year. The Council could choose to implement all or some of those recommendations.
The humanitarian impact of the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions regime is another issue for the Council to consider. In a statement delivered during a joint special meeting of the CTC and the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions Committee on terrorist financing trends and the implementation of resolution 2462, Laetitia Courtois, the ICRC’s Permanent Observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the UN, outlined some of the difficulties that UN sanctions can create for humanitarian organisations. Courtois described the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions regime as having “far-reaching impact” and said that “it is therefore more critical than ever that during the upcoming renewal more protective action for humanitarian action is included”. In light of these comments, which echo the position of other humanitarian organisations, the Council may wish to consider formulating appropriate humanitarian exemptions to the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions regime.
Member states’ responses to CTED’s reports are also an issue for the Council. At present, member states are encouraged, but not required, to report back to CTED regarding their implementation of CTED’s recommendations. The Council could decide to implement a mechanism that either requires member states to follow up on any recommendations made by CTED or empowers CTED to put pressure on member states to respond.
CTED’s engagement with civil society organisations may be an issue for the Council. Before consulting with civil society organisations while conducting a review, CTED currently requires consent from the host member state. The Council could decide to formalise consultation with civil society as part of CTED’s work by encouraging it to meet with civil society without first seeking consent. The Council could also choose to revisit the relationship between UNOCT and CTED with a view to determining whether there are areas for possible improvement.
In general, counter-terrorism enjoys the support of all Council members. Some differences exist, however, regarding the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS), which were reaffirmed by the General Assembly on 30 June. The pillars are, first, addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; second, measures to prevent and combat terrorism; third, measures to build states’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the UN system in that regard; and fourth, measures to ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism. The fourth pillar does not enjoy equal support among all Council members. Some members favour a counter-terrorism approach that is founded on human rights, prevention, and the involvement of civil society, while other members focus more closely on security and law enforcement.
UN DOCUMENTS ON COUNTER-TERRORISM
|Security Council Resolutions|
|20 July 2017S/RES/2368||This was a resolution renewing and updating the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions regime. Through an annex to the resolution, eight individuals or organisations were added to the sanctions list.|
|21 December 2017S/RES/2395||This resolution renewed the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) until 31 December 2021.|
|27 July 2021S/2021/682||This was the Secretary-General’s 13th biannual strategic-level report on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.|