What's In Blue

Posted Fri 19 Jul 2019

International Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime

Today (19 July), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on the linkages between international terrorism and transnational organised crime. Peruvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Néstor Popolizio will be present for the vote, which follows an open debate on the linkages between international terrorism and organised crime held on 9 July at the initiative of Peru. While negotiations on the text started beforehand, Peru opted to hear the perspectives of the wider membership before finalising the draft that it has spearheaded; hearing from members more broadly apparently assisted some Council members in clarifying their views in the later phases of the negotiations.

Resolution: Content and Negotiations

The draft in blue expresses concern that terrorists can benefit from organised crime as a source of financing or logistical support, through trafficking of arms, persons, drugs, artefacts and cultural property. The resolution further expresses concern that terrorists can benefit from the illicit trade in natural resources, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion, among other means.

Adapting language from resolution 2250 of December 2015 on youth, peace and security, the draft encourages states to consider engaging relevant local communities and non-governmental actors in developing strategies to counter terrorism and organised crime.

In addition, the draft in blue calls on states to consider establishing appropriate laws and mechanisms that allow for the broadest possible international cooperation. Among other areas, this includes police to police cooperation, and when appropriate, the use or establishment of joint investigation mechanisms and enhanced coordination of cross-border investigations.

In light of concerns about prisons being used as a source of recruitment for terrorists, the final text encourages member states to explore ways of preventing radicalisation in prison systems and to promote rehabilitation and reintegration of convicted terrorists.

The draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Security Council, within twelve months, a joint report by the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime with inputs from other relevant UN entities, including the Counterterrorism Executive Directorate, and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, on the linkages between organised crime and terrorism.

Some differences of view among members affected the content of the draft resolution now in blue. In the original draft circulated by Peru, a preambular paragraph stated that terrorism and transnational organised crime have different motivations and applicable legal regimes but stressed that they should not be treated in isolation from each other. This paragraph was ultimately deleted as no common ground could be reached on defining the precise relationship between the two issues. The difficulties arose since some Council members see transnational organised crime as a law enforcement issue, rather than one related to terrorism, and are wary of perceived Council encroachment on matters that are within the mandate of other UN organs, such as the General Assembly. Others stress that where criminal groups and networks enable or assist terrorist activities—whether financially, logistically, or in other ways—the Council should consider how to curb such actions as part of its counter-terrorism agenda.

A controversy arose around language on the relationship between counterterrorism efforts and international humanitarian law and the inclusion of language from resolution 2462 of 28 March concerning the financing of terrorism. Some Council members wanted the present resolution to reflect language from the earlier resolution that demanded states ensure that all measures taken to counter terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law. They also wanted language indicating that when applying measures to counter terrorist financing, states take into account the potential effect of those measures on exclusively humanitarian activities, carried out by impartial humanitarian actors in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law. The US, however, requested that if such language were inserted in the text, other operative paragraphs from resolution 2462 – on the seriousness of the criminal offense of the willful provision or collection of funds for financing terrorism – should also be included, as a ‘package deal’.

The draft that went under silence on 17 July did not include either of these elements from resolution 2462, and Council members such as Belgium and the United Kingdom broke silence, maintaining that the language on the relationship between counterterrorism and international humanitarian law should be reflected in the resolution.

In the end, the draft in blue incorporates the language from resolution 2462 on the potential effect of counterterrorism measures on exclusively humanitarian activities, but not on the criminalisation of providing or collecting funds for terrorism.

Background on this Issue

Throughout its term on the Council, Peru has focused on the connection between transnational organised crime and international terrorism. During its previous presidency, it organised an Arria-formula meeting on 9 April 2018 on “enhancing synergies between the United Nations and regional and subregional organisations to address the nexus between terrorism and transnational organised crime”. One month later, on 8 May 2018, the Council adopted a presidential statement calling on states to prevent terrorists from benefiting from the financial proceeds of transnational organised crime and recalling their obligations to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism for any purpose. Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez (Peru), chair of the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), briefed the wider membership on 8 October 2018 with a view to strengthening the understanding of intersections between terrorism and organised crime, notably in connection with human trafficking committed for the purpose of supporting terrorism; he also spoke at the meeting about links between terrorism and the trafficking of both drugs and arms.

This year, the Council and its subsidiary bodies have continued to explore the linkages between international terrorism and organised crime. On 26 April, the CTC, the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions Committee and the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee held a special joint meeting focused on regional strategies, responses, and lessons learned in addressing these linkages. Resolution 2462, adopted on 28 March at the initiative of France, focused on the financing of terrorism, emphasising the need to coordinate efforts at all levels to respond to the challenges of terrorism and organised crime in accordance with international law. This resolution was adopted at an open debate on “Preventing and combating the financing of terrorism” (S/PV.8496).

During the 9 July open debate, Under-Secretary-General Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); Assistant Secretary-General Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate; and Tamara Makarenko, an international consultant for the UN Interregional Crime and Research Institute (UNICRI), briefed the Council (S/PV.8569).

Sign up for What's In Blue emails

Subscribe to receive SCR publications