What's In Blue

Posted Mon 14 Jan 2013

Counter-Terrorism Open Debate

Tomorrow (15 January), the Security Council will hold an open debate on a comprehensive approach to counter-terrorism, with a presidential statement set to be adopted. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar, is expected to preside, with several other Council members participating at high-level. The Secretary-General is likely to brief and wide participation from member states is expected.

The last open debate on counter-terrorism was a 4 May 2012 high-level event, presided by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev (S/PV.6765), after which the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/17). The statement recognised the changing nature and character of terrorism and emphasised the need to enhance coordination on the national, subregional, regional and international levels in order to strengthen a global response to this challenge.

In its concept note ahead of tomorrow’s open debate (S/2013/3), Pakistan conveyed its intention to focus on a “comprehensive approach”. It described this as a combination of traditional approaches to counter-terrorism, addressing the root causes of terrorism and all relevant factors in a given context. In particular, Pakistan underlined the issues of financing terrorism, the implementation of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, incitement to terrorism, cultural dialogue and tolerance, and the relation between counter-terrorism and development, rule of law, and human rights. The concept note suggested that integration of counter-terrorism approaches should be pursued at both policy and implementation levels.

Negotiations over the presidential statement were held over four meetings and a draft text was put under silence procedure on Friday (11 January). Council members were able to agree on language on several sensitive issues, such as the use of the non-profit sector and charitable organisations by terrorists, the challenges of holding terrorists in custody as well as a reference to the activities of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), since only eight current Council members are part of the Forum. (The GCTF is an informal multilateral body that discusses issues pertaining to counterterrorism with 30 founding members.)

An issue which impacted the adoption of the statement was the filling of the four vacant seats on the Monitoring Team which assists the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee. After several states put forward candidates, the Secretariat produced a shortlist of four candidates from France, Germany, the UK and the US to be appointed by consensus among Council members. One elected Council member, who had put forward a candidate that was not on the shortlist, apparently placed a hold on the approval of the four nominees. In reaction, it seems that one of the permanent members said it would not agree to the presidential statement until the hold on the appointment of the monitoring group was removed. It seems that over the weekend agreement was reached on the appointment of the four candidates on the shortlist and the presidential statement is expected to be adopted tomorrow. (In terms of Council working methods, several member states have emphasised that such statements should be adopted after all speakers have made their interventions as opposed to at the start of the debate, although it was unclear how tomorrow’s timing would unfold.)

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