What's In Blue

Posted Thu 14 Aug 2014

Adoption of a Resolution on Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Al-Nusra Front

Tomorrow afternoon (15 August), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution listing six individuals affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front on the Al-Qaida sanctions regime in an attempt to cut off funding to these groups. The draft resolution was circulated by the UK late last week and the Council seems ready to put it to a vote after holding two rounds of negotiations. At the request of Russia, silence procedure was extended until today at noon and the resolution was put in blue this afternoon.

In the draft resolution the Council expresses its “gravest concern” that territory in parts of Iraq and Syria is under the control of ISIL and Al-Nusra and over the negative impact of their violent extremist ideology and actions on the stability of the region, the devastating humanitarian impact on the civilian populations and the role of these groups in fomenting sectarian tensions. The draft resolution reaffirms the need for accountability for those who have committed or are otherwise responsible for violations of international humanitarian law or violations or abuses of human rights in Iraq and Syria.

The draft resolution focuses particularly on the issue of foreign fighters and terrorist financing. Building on agreed language from resolutions 2161—which reviewed the measures against Al-Qaida entities and individuals and was adopted on 17 June—and 2117 on small arms and light weapons adopted on 26 September 2013 but with significant new provisions. The Council specifically condemns ISIL and Al Nusra’s recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters whose presence is exacerbating conflict and contributing to violent radicalisation. It also expresses its readiness to list individuals involved in the financing or facilitating the travel of foreign terrorist fighters. The draft also calls upon member states to supress this flow, bring foreign terrorist fighters to justice and engage with those at risk of being recruited to discourage travel to Syria and Iraq.

Regarding terrorism financing, the draft resolution does not incorporate new obligations but reaffirms resolution 1373 and its obligations to member states to prevent and supress the financing of terrorist acts and refrain from providing support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts. It also recalls its resolution 2161, which stated that all states shall ensure that no funds, financial assets or economic resources are made available to ISIL, Al Nusra or any individuals, groups, undertakings or entities associated with Al-Qaida.

The draft resolution also incorporates how oilfields and related infrastructure controlled by ISIL and Al Nusra are strengthening their operational capability and expresses concern that aircraft or other transport could be used by ISIL and Al Nusra to sell gold or other valuable items on international markets. It seems there was some discussion over which language from previous Council outcomes on kidnap for ransom should be used in this draft resolution but agreement was reached allowing for language from resolution 2161. The draft includes language on how an asset freeze shall apply to payment of ransoms regardless of how or by whom the ransom is paid.

The draft resolution lists six individuals to the Al-Qaida sanctions regime. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State (formerly ISIL) is not among the six because he has been listed since 5 October 2011. Both ISIL and Al Nusra are on the Al-Qaida sanctions list: ISIL was listed as an a.k.a. of Al-Qaida in Iraq and Al Nusra has been listed as a separate entity since 14 May 2014 and as an a.k.a. of Al-Qaida in Iraq for a year before that. (It is likely that at some point the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee may have to update the list to reflect the change in ISIL’s name)

It seems that Russia challenged the listing of several individuals through a resolution arguing for it to be done in the 1267/1989 Sanctions Committee as has been the case for listing individuals in the Al-Qaida sanctions regime in the past. It seems that Russia felt that the normal process of having names submitted to the Committee for its vetting would allow for more thorough review. After bilateral negotiations with the penholder, it was agreed that six names would be included in the list after consultations with the capitals. Even though a resolution was not necessary to list individuals, it seems Council members wanted to be more visibly active in reacting to these groups’ actions.

In terms of follow-up action, the draft resolution directs the Analytical Support and Monitoring Team that assists the 1267/1989 Sanctions Committee to submit a report to the Committee within 90 days on the threat, including to the region, posed by ISIL and Al Nusra, their sources of arms, funding, recruitment and demographics, and recommendations for additional action to address the threat. The chair of the Committee is then expected to brief the Council on its principal findings.

It seems some of the additions by Council members in the negotiations included language on ensuring that any counter-terrorism measures comply with international law as well as language on the role of internet and social networks in the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters. A paragraph reaffirming that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilisation was also added.

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