What's In Blue

Adoption of a Resolution on Counter-Terrorism

This afternoon (20 November), the Council is expected to put to a vote a draft produced by France condemning several attacks committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in recent months. The text was introduced to a group of eight Council members—represented at ambassador level—yesterday morning. Despite some questions regarding some of the provisions in the text (mostly regarding the authorisation of use of force), the draft was put in blue yesterday by France without going through a negotiation process or silence procedure. An amendment proposed by Russia was accepted and added to the draft already in blue.

The draft determines that ISIS—its extremist ideology, terrorist acts and human rights violations—constitutes “a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security”. The draft stresses how this threat affects all regions and member states, even those far from conflict zones, and condemns the latest attacks perpetrated in Sousse, Ankara, Sinai, Beirut and Paris.

It seems that the key section of the draft is an operative paragraph that calls upon member states that have the requisite capacity to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIS and other Al-Qaida affiliates. This was also the section of the draft that generated the most concern among some Council members.

It seems at least two members were of the view that this operative paragraph could be interpreted as a blanket authorisation for military intervention in Syria without state consent. However, it appears that France argued that the draft could not be construed as a blanket authorisation, as it was not a Chapter VII resolution, it was a call on member states and not a demand, and the call was limited to territories controlled by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Russia insisted that a reference to the UN Charter be inserted and France agreed. It seems most Council members agree that a reference to the UN Charter inserted in this particular operative paragraph can be construed as a reference to article 51 on self-defence, as well as to the principle of state sovereignty.

The French draft to be voted on today comes after Russia circulated a new version of a draft resolution that it had first circulated in September, which raised the need to coordinate with governments in the region, including with Syria, to combat terrorism. The revised draft was introduced under “any other business” at a meeting on Wednesday (18 November) and was discussed yesterday (19 November) at DPR-level, although the P3 did not participate in that meeting. (The draft had been abandoned in September following the unwillingness of the US to engage in negotiations because it viewed the draft as establishing a requirement for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition to cooperate with the Syrian government.) At press time, it remained unclear whether all Council members will engage in negotiations on the Russian draft.

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