What's In Blue

Posted Wed 30 Dec 2020

Resolution Adopted on the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee

Yesterday (29 December) the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2560, which focuses on the work of the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and its Monitoring Team. A key theme of the resolution appears to be to “increase fairness, and the effectiveness of the rules and procedures” of the ISIL (D’aesh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, as noted in the preambular part of the resolution.

The negotiations on the resolution seem to have gone relatively smoothly. The draft resolution was initially circulated to all Council members on 9 December. There were two virtual rounds of negotiations, but no one broke silence before the draft was put into blue. Resolution 2560—which was co-drafted by the US and by Indonesia, the outgoing chair of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee—is a concise resolution (1.5 pages) with three operative paragraphs.

The resolution states that the Security Council will continue to encourage member states to more actively submit listing requests to the Committee that meet the listing criteria as set out in paragraph 2 of resolution 2368 of July 2017. (Paragraph 2 of resolution 2368 describes listing criteria related to participating in ISIL and Al-Qaida activities, providing them with arms and related material, and recruiting for these groups or otherwise supporting their activities). The resolution further encourages member states to provide additional identifying and other information to help keep the ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List reliable and up-to-date and to make use of exemptions provisions to the assets freeze.

Resolution 2560 also requests the Monitoring Team to study the exemptions procedures described in resolution 2368—which renewed the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions—and to provide recommendations within nine months to the Sanctions Committee to determine whether updating the exemptions to the assets freeze measures is required. The exemptions include those necessary for basic expenses (such as food, medicine, and rent, among others), as well as other expenses.

During the negotiations, operative paragraphs that would have provided additional tasks to the Monitoring Team were cut from the draft resolution. For example, the initial draft would have required the Monitoring Team to provide a detailed assessment of which ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates not yet designated by the Sanctions Committee are most threatening to international peace and security. Furthermore, it would also have requested the Monitoring Team to identify lapses by member states in the robust implementation of the sanctions list. Some permanent members maintained that these were complex issues that would have required additional time to discuss—a challenge considering that there was an effort to adopt the resolution before the start of the 2021 calendar year (when the composition of the Council changes). In this respect, they felt that if the Council were to take up these matters, it would be preferable to do so next year, prior to the expiration of the Monitoring Team’s mandate in December 2021.

The European members of the Council wanted the text amended to include human rights language that was not in the initial draft. As a compromise, China and Russia proposed agreed language drawn from resolution 2368—which renewed the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions regime in 2017—that appears to have been acceptable to all members. In this regard, resolution 2560 reaffirms the need to combat by all means threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts “in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law, including applicable international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law”. In addition, the resolution recognises that “development, security and human rights are mutually reinforcing and are vital to an effective and comprehensive approach to countering terrorism”.

The draft resolution further reiterates the importance of the Office of the Ombudsperson. This language was added during the negotiations, and appears to have been a priority for several members.

The fact that resolution 2560 was pared down (and focuses on a limited number of issues) helps to explain the relatively straightforward negotiations. In August 2020, the US vetoed a more complex counter-terrorism draft resolution initiated by Indonesia—one dealing with the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration (PRR) of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). The US and Russia had maintained that it was essential to address the issue of repatriation in that draft, but European countries on the Council made clear that including the word “repatriation” was problematic for them. In the end, aside from the US veto, all other Council members (including Russia) voted in favour of that draft.