What's In Blue

Posted Thu 18 Dec 2014

Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime: Open Debate and Resolution

Tomorrow morning (19 December), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution on the linkages between transnational organised crime and terrorism in some regions during an open debate chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and African Integration of Chad, Moussa Faki Mahamat. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman and the AU Permanent Observer to the UN, Téte António, will brief the Council. The draft resolution was circulated by Chad late in November and several rounds of negotiations were held. Following a silence procedure that ended this morning, the draft was put in blue.

On 4 December, Chad circulated a concept note (S/2014/869) that focuses on how the intersection of terrorism and cross-border crime weakens state capacities and reinforces terrorist groups which can rival state authority. The note also highlights the impact of the linkages between cross-border crime and terrorism in relation to the Council’s conflict prevention and resolution efforts by reinforcing the role of potential spoilers, increasing the risk for relapse or favoring cross-border conflict spillover.

The earlier versions of the draft resolution included several of the issues outlined in the concept note. Given the opposition of certain Council members to introducing new language on some of these issues, the current draft largely builds on language from recent resolutions and presidential statements. Some new language, nevertheless, has been added, particularly in relation to the role of transnational organised crime in supporting terrorism.

In the draft resolution the Council expresses its concern that “terrorists benefit from transnational organised crime in some regions, including from the trafficking of arms, persons, drugs, and artifacts and from the illicit trade in natural resources…as well as from kidnapping from ransom”. The draft encourages member states and relevant organisations, as appropriate, to enhance cooperation and strategies to prevent terrorists from benefiting from transnational organised crime, and to build the capacity to secure their borders and investigate and prosecute such terrorists and transnational organised criminals working with them.

During the negotiations, it seems that the Latin American Council members questioned whether the connection between terrorism and transnational organised crime could be applied worldwide. As a compromise, while retaining its universal scope, the draft resolution qualifies the connection between transnational organised crime and terrorism by referring to “some regions”, and to Africa. The draft focuses its scope on those terrorist groups benefiting from transnational organised crime, referring specifically to AlQaida in several paragraphs.

During the negotiations, there were also discussions over the scope of a report requested from the Secretary-General. The original draft asked the Secretary-General to conduct a review of the UN system’s efforts to reduce the “strategic space” that cross-border crime affords terrorist groups, but some members considered this to be too broad. The draft in blue instead requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on the efforts of the UN entities to address the threat of terrorists benefiting from transnational organised crime in affected regions, including Africa, “with respect to matters with which the Council is seized”.

Supported by Council members from affected regions, the resolution places emphasis on providing of capacity (both by the UN and bilaterally) to member states in order to reduce the negative impact of terrorists benefiting from transnational organised crime. However, it seems that some Council members insisted on making it clear that capacity building provided by the UN, would be done “within existing mandates and resources”.
There were lengthy discussions among Council members regarding the addition of a paragraph on the importance of incorporating the participation of women and youth in developing strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism but the paragraph was finally retained.

Language related to the negative impact of transnational organised crime on the protection of civilians and particular examples regarding how transnational organised crime complicates conflict prevention and resolution efforts was dropped during the negotiation process. Several of the issues which were developed in the concept note circulated by Chad but were not reflected in the resolution to be adopted tomorrow may be raised by some of the member states participating in the open debate.

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