What's In Blue

Posted Thu 20 Jul 2017

Resolution on ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions Regime Adopted Today

Today (20 July), the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2368 renewing and updating the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions regime. The resolution is an update to resolution 2253, which was adopted on 17 December 2015 and decided that the Council would review the sanctions measures “with a view to their possible further strengthening” within eighteen months of adoption. The US, the penholder on this issue, circulated this first draft on 20 June. Following repeated negotiations, the text was placed under silence on the afternoon of 13 July; however silence was broken by Russia. An additional round of negotiations was held this week and consensus was reached on the final text.

The resolution includes a number of updates intended to better reflect and counter the current and evolving threat presented by Al-Qaida and ISIL. These focus on addressing in particular: foreign terrorist fighters returning to their respective countries of origin; trafficking in persons and kidnapping for ransom by Al-Qaida and ISIL; and measures to restrict Al-Qaida and ISIL financing. The resolution also provides updates concerning the Office of the Ombudsperson, including regarding communications among the Ombudsperson, the Sanctions Committee and petitioners.

The evolving global threat of ISIL was a major focus of the fifth report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security, released on 31 May (S/2017/467). The report noted that ISIL and ISIL-affiliated groups had conducted terrorist attacks against an increasing number of states across the globe. At the same time, the report noted that although ISIL finances had declined because of its loss of territory, the international community would need to continue to counter the funding of “ISIL 2.0,” which continues to raise funds through criminal activities, extortion and foreign donations.

Negotiations on the resolution were prolonged to allow for agreement between the US and Russia on a new Annex III to the resolution. The new Annex identifies eight individuals or organisations to be added to the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List. The motivation of the inclusion of the Annex appears to have been frustrations on the part of some members, including the US and UK, at delays in the committee process, including holds being put on names. Russia has previously expressed its opposition to the use of annexes to resolutions as a means of adding individuals to sanctions list, arguing that the listing of individuals is a matter for the sanctions committee.

In responding to a similar approach in August 2014, Russia expressed its concern that “such a step undermines the credibility of a key subsidiary body of the Council and leads to the weakening of the established procedures operating effectively within its framework that enable States to take balanced and informed decisions” (S/PV.7242). The inclusion of the Annex, and its contents, was reportedly the result of bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia prior to 11 July, when the agreed text of the Annex was circulated to the full membership of the Council.

Another significant issue during negotiations was a proposal by Russia for a trade embargo to be placed on ISIL-controlled territory as a means of restricting the group’s ability to generate revenue. This proposal was opposed by some members, including the US, which expressed concerns at the feasibility of imposing a full embargo on the shifting ISIL-controlled territory, and reservations that a trade embargo may negatively impact long-term stabilisation efforts. Compromise between these positions appears to have been found by urging states to prevent trade with ISIL without imposing a full trade embargo.

Eleven Council members spoke following today’s adoption, and there was common agreement on the need to address the threat of terrorism. Some members, such as Egypt, emphasised the importance of additional measures to counter-terrorism financing, while others, such as Japan, addressed the need to focus on the threat created by foreign terrorist fighters leaving ISIL-controlled territory. Italy made particular reference to measures to address trafficking in persons as a source of terrorist financing in the resolution, and expressed its regret that it had not been possible to include stronger language on this issue. Russia stated its disappointment at the manner in which the negotiations had been conducted, and its frustration that its proposals, including for a trade embargo against ISIL-controlled territory, were not taken into account by the US. Russia said that it had nevertheless supported the resolution in recognition of the scale of the threat posed by terrorism.

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