What's In Blue

Posted Mon 8 Jul 2019

Open Debate on the Linkages between International Terrorism and Organised Crime

Tomorrow (9 July) the Security Council will hold an open debate on the linkages between international terrorism and organised crime. The anticipated briefers are 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).

Peru, which is Council president this month and has organised the debate, has initiated a draft resolution. The draft, which is currently under negotiation, will be tabled for a vote later this month, following the open debate. A goal of the penholder is to hear the perspectives of the wider membership before finalising the draft.

Throughout its term on the Council, Peru has focused on the connection between organised crime and 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 the 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 both drug trafficking and arms trafficking.

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).

In general, counter-terrorism enjoys the support of all Council members, although there are some differences in approach to the relevance of transnational organised crime for the Council’s work on counter-terrorism. Some members see transnational organised crime as a law enforcement issue and are wary of the Council’s perceived 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 concept note (S/2019/537) has been circulated in preparation for tomorrow’s meeting. Among the objectives for the meeting outlined in the note are to explore how to strengthen cooperation between and among governments and between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations in addressing the linkages between organised crimes and international terrorism, and the role of the private sector and public/private partnership in preventing terrorism from benefitting from organised crime.

Among the questions posed in the concept note that could be considered in the debate are:

  • How can the UN contribute to cross-regional cooperation and information- sharing in addressing the linkages between international terrorism and organised crime?
  • How can best practices and lessons learnt be more effectively disseminated in this regard?
  • What is the role of regional and sub-regional organisations in assessing the level of threat and helping to implement Security Council resolutions and the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy related to combating the nexus between international terrorism and organised crime?

In tomorrow’s open debate, while several member states can be expected to address these questions, there is also likely to be a wide range of views expressed on other aspects of the relationship between terrorism and organised crime. Some members may emphasise the need to combat human, arms and drug trafficking, and note that these crimes are often means of providing financial support to terrorist activities. To address trafficking-related terrorist financing, there may be references to the importance of strengthening border controls, and enhancing information-sharing among intelligence, military and police officials, both at the national and international levels. A number of members may further underscore the importance of fighting terrorism and organised crime in a manner that complies with international humanitarian law and upholds human rights standards. Furthermore, there is likely to be a recognition that the linkages between terrorism and organised crime can vary from region to region, and as a result, strategies to address this problem should be tailored to the specific context.

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