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The Chairs of three terrorism-related Security Council subsidiary bodies briefed members today, reporting on the activities of the Committees concerning counter-terrorism, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated groups, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Delivering a joint statement on behalf of the heads of all three Committees, Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism, said the Committees and their respective groups of experts had synchronized efforts in conducting country visits. Over the past year, experts from the 1267 and 1540 Committees had joined the Counter-Terrorism Committee on visits to Kazakhstan in May 2016, and Tajikistan in February 2017. They had also shared information on the financing of terrorism, he said, citing the April 2016 open briefing by the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 1267 Committee, Member States and the Financial Action Task Force on depriving terrorist groups of funding.
Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) concerning non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, welcomed the cooperation among the subsidiary bodies on the risks of illicit trafficking and terrorism through online public trading platforms, such as eBay and Ali Baba. Such exchanges placed the 1540 Committee in a good position to help Member States implement the relevant resolutions.
In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed concern over the continuing recruitment efforts of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al‑Qaida, Al-Nusra Front and others terrorist groups, emphasizing that the international response must be comprehensive and well planned. Violations of resolution 1540 (2004) were “inadmissible”, one speaker emphasized.
In that context, Japan’s representative pointed out that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to launch ballistic missiles and conduct nuclear tests in blatant violation of Council resolutions. The use of chemical weapons in Syria was another striking example of the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction, he added.
Similarly, the Russian Federation’s representative objected to the lacklustre implementation of resolutions 2199 (2015) and 2254 (2015), the first of which condemns trade in oil and related products with terrorist groups, while the second expands criteria for including ISIL on the Security Council Sanctions List. Information on access by non-State actors to chemical weapons required investigation by the Council, he emphasized.
On that point, France’s representative cited the findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Join Investigative Mechanism that Da’esh had used mustard gas in Syria. Resolution 2325 (2016) had strengthened the Council’s toolbox in that regard, she said, underlining the importance of tailoring its actions to that evolving threat.
The representative of the United States suggested that the Council work closely with new Office of Counter-Terrorism. That would eliminate duplication and help balanced implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, she said.
Senegal’s representative emphasized the need for a unified stance against “chameleon-like” terrorist groups, expressing concern that Da’esh sought to deploy in Africa’s Sahel region.
Also briefing were the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015).
Others speaking after the briefings included representatives of the United Kingdom, Italy, Ukraine, China, Sweden, Ethiopia and Uruguay.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 11:53 a.m.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), delivered a joint statement on behalf of the Chairs of the Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1373 (2001) concerning counterterrorism; 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities; and resolution 1540 (2004) concerning non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
He said that all the Committees recognized the challenges presented by terrorists resorting to new means to finance, plan, prepare, facilitate, recruit and commission terrorist acts, possibly involving the use of weapons of mass destructions. He emphasized the importance of cooperation among the Committees and their expert groups in addressing the grave threats posed by terrorism and the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors. The Committees continued their collaboration and their expert groups had synchronized their efforts, where appropriate, in conducting country visits, he said.
Over the past year, he recalled, experts from the 1267 and 1540 Committees had joined the Counter-Terrorism Committee on two visits, the first to Kazakhstan in May 2016, and the second to Tajikistan in February 2017. The exchange of information concerning visits, technical assistance needs and reaching out to international and regional organizations of common interest continued among the Committees, through their expert groups.
He went on to say that, as part of their support for the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the three Committees had collaborated within the framework of Task Force working groups, notably the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group to develop a capacity-building implementation plan that would help States ensure compliance with resolution 2178 (2014). The 1540 Committee’s Group of Experts, in its role as a Task Force collaborator, encouraged the Task Force’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Working Group to focus on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors.
Pursuant to resolution 2253 (2015), the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the 1267 Committee’s Monitoring Team had drafted the Secretary-General’s reports on the threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh, he continued. It had submitted four reports, and the fifth and final one was still being drafted. The two entities had also collaborated on use of the Internet and telecommunications technologies for terrorist purposes, he said, adding that the three Committees had shared information on the financing of terrorism and proliferation, with the Directorate and the 1540 Expert Group having met recently to discuss the risk of illicit trafficking through eBay and Ali Baba.
In April 2016, the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 1267 Committee, States, as well as the Financial Action Task Force, had held an open briefing on depriving terrorist groups of financing, he recalled. In December 2016, they had held a joint special meeting on practices and lessons learned in respect of preventing terrorist groups from accessing, raising and moving funds. The three Committees also recognized the need to strengthen their coordination and cooperation, and would, therefore, identify thematic areas in which joint interaction could be beneficial within their respective mandates, he said.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015), said the threat posed by Da’esh, Al-Qaida and affiliates had evolved further since the last joint briefing in May 2016. The Committee’s Monitoring Team found in its latest report that Da’esh and Al-Qaida affiliates continued to present complex and diverse challenges to international security. Da’esh remained under sustained military pressure, and in response, it had conducted a range of attacks outside conflict areas, he said, noting that the group’s finances had declined and it now operated on a “crisis” budget. In some regions, Al‑Qaida affiliates were stronger than the cells and groups affiliated to Da’esh.
The Monitoring Team reported that the overall flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria appeared to have slowed, he said, as a result of increased control measures put in place by Member States, as well as military pressure. However, there was a growing challenge involving returning and relocating fighters despite the fact that their travel to conflict zones had been frustrated by national efforts. In that regard, he said, the Monitoring Team highlighted the continuing need to enhance the sharing of information among Member States. Concerning Afghanistan, the Monitoring Team noted that Da’esh had lost significant amounts of territory in Nangarhar Province, he said, adding that the losses had degraded the number and capabilities of their fighters. However, the group had been able to overcome battlefield losses and launch at least one high-profile attack in July 2016, which had resulted in many deaths.
He recalled that, in December 2016, the Council had adopted resolution 2331 (2016) to stem terrorist financing from acts of sexual and gender-based violence and trafficking in persons. Furthermore, resolution 2347 (2017) concerning the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflict not only built upon the Da’esh and Al-Qaida sanctions regime, but also mandated a range of concrete measures. In relation to both resolutions, it was crucial that Member States engage with and provide the Committee and Monitoring Team with updated information on the evolving nature of the threat, listed individuals and entities, and the status of sanctions implementation. To enhance full and effective implementation, the Committee had undertaken visits to selected countries, including Afghanistan in November 2016, he said, adding that the Committee also worked continuously to ensure that its sanctions list was as updated and accurate as possible.
Mr. ABOULATTA (Egypt) then briefed on the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, emphasizing that assessment visits to Member States and following up on facilitation of technical assistance were at the heart of their work. Since March 2016, the Committee had conducted 17 visits, more than had occurred in any other equivalent period since its creation in 2001. It had visited Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kazakhstan, as well as the Lake Chad Basin States, Paraguay, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan. In post-visit follow-up, the Directorate had worked with States and implementing agencies to facilitate technical assistance, he continued, citing the CTED’s engagement with Iraq as a good example in that regard.
Facilitation work had accelerated markedly in the last 12 months, he said, adding that Argentina and Sri Lanka had agreed commitments on technical assistance with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), pursuant to the recommendations while the visits were still ongoing. Noting that financing counter-terrorism efforts had been a priority over the last year, he said that the Directorate, working with the Financial Action Task Force, had helped to finalize revisions of the international standards and had provided inputs for a typology report on terrorist financing in West and Central Africa, adopted in October 2016.
He reported that the Counter-Terrorism Committee had organized a special meeting on terrorist use of information and communications technologies in December 2016, and had been briefed by industry leaders in February 2017. Alongside others, the Committee had prepared a proposal for a comprehensive international framework to counter terrorist narratives, which had been submitted to the Council last month. Having held formal and informal briefings to keep Member States abreast of emerging threats and responses, he said the Committee and Directorate continued to pay close attention to issues of human rights and the rule of law, taking such concerns into account in their dialogue with States, in special meetings and open briefings, and in facilitating technical assistance.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), said his panel dealt primarily with preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials to non-State actors, including terrorists. While the mandates of the three Committees differed, important areas of complementarity and cooperation among them were important in promoting effective implementation by States of their obligations under the respective Security Council resolutions.
The 1540 Committee valued the conduct of joint visits to Member States alongside CTED, and welcomed the cooperative efforts of Committee experts on illicit trafficking and terrorism through the use of online public-trading platforms. Such exchanges put the Committee in a good position to support the efforts of States to fulfil their responsibilities in implementation of the relevant resolutions, he said. The requirements of resolution 2325 (2016) and the 1540 Committee’s 2017 programme of work placed demands on its limited human and financial resources, he said, while expressing appreciation in that regard to States that had made contributions to the Trust Fund for Global and Regional Disarmament.
MICHELE SISON (United States) said it was critical that the three Committees take a “whole-of-United Nations” approach to defeating terrorism, adding that the Council could work closely with the new Office of Counter-Terrorism, which, when established, would coordinate efforts among 38 offices. That would eliminate duplication and ensure balanced implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Directorate had identified good practices for countering terrorism narratives and promoting issues of respect for human rights and the rule of law when undertaking counter-terrorism action, she said, encouraging cooperation with UNODC and other parts of the United Nations system.
The upcoming review of the CTED’s mandate would offer an opportunity to evaluate State implementation of its recommendations, she said. Describing the 1267 Committee as vital to countering threats posed by terrorist groups, she said that, while its focus had been on ISIL, Al-Qaida remained a potent threat assuming the guise of a more “moderate” organization. Hopefully, the Committee would focus on financing and recruitment activities, she said, stressing that all Member States must help to update the Sanctions List. Explaining that resolution 1540 (2004) was the cornerstone of efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, she said the related Committee had found notable implementation gaps in areas including the security of chemical and biological weapons.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) recalled that the joint statement read out by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Chair mentioned planning for an international framework on countering terrorist propaganda, and expressed hope for the swift adoption of such a document as a resolution. The same approach must be taken to countering financing for terrorism, he added. Resolutions 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015) were neither being implemented fully, nor by all States, a situation that must be addressed immediately.
Noting that the Counter-Terrorism Committee drew on expert support from CTED, he said the main thrust of its work should be to assess implementation of the relevant resolutions. Monitoring visits must focus on the countries at highest risk of terrorism, he emphasized, noting the usefulness of the visit to Afghanistan, while cautioning against underestimating the need to focus on Central Asian States. He called for the integration of expertise from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, among others.
He went on to express support for the proposal that States update the Sanctions List, emphasizing the need for the Committee to consider requests quickly and without politicizing them. Noting that the activities of the Ombudsman did not always address mandated tasks, he said short-sighted approaches ignored the views of interested States. However, the Monitoring Group’s reports were the Committee’s linchpin, he said, adding that he trusted they would be as objective as possible and rely on trusted information sources. He noted that a few States had yet to present their national reports, urging more regular official meetings in that regard. Violations of resolution 1540 (2004) were inadmissible, he said, emphasizing that information on non-State actors gaining access to chemical weapons required investigation by the Council.
YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) expressed concern that numerous foreign terrorist fighters in Iraq and Syria were returning to their home countries or relocating to other regions, including South-East Asia, by using “broken travel” techniques with forged passports. In that context, he encouraged all Member States to implement fully all recent counter-terrorism resolutions, including those on aviation security, international judicial cooperation and the protection of critical infrastructure. Regarding the 1540 Committee, he noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to conduct ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests, in blatant violation of Security Council resolutions. The use of chemical weapons in Syria was another striking example of the threats posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, emphasizing that proliferation activities must be prevented whenever and wherever they were undertaken or attempted.
PETER WILSON (United Kingdom) said the threat of terrorism was one many countries, including his own, knew all too well. The United Kingdom had experienced a horrific terrorist attack at Westminster two months ago, he recalled, adding that terrorism represented a shared threat and demanded a shared response. Welcoming efforts by the Counter-Terrorism Committee and CTED to tackle the threat of terrorism in its various forms, he said the 1267 Committee and Monitoring Team had provided a clear, up-to-date understanding of the threat posed by Da’esh and Al-Qaida. Furthermore, thanks to the 1540 Committee, tangible steps were being taken to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors, which was no longer a hypothetical, nightmare scenario. To defeat terrorism, everyone must pay their part, he said, emphasizing that the Committees “cannot not do it on their own”. All States must follow the established international aviation-security standards, which were designed to keep pace with the evolving nature of the threat. Furthermore, it was not enough merely to counter terrorism, he said, underlining that more must be done to position the prevention of violent extremism at the heart of the international community’s collective efforts.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) noted that terrorists were benefiting from rapid developments in science, technology and international commerce, which demonstrated how innovation could facilitate illicit proliferation activities. Since no country was immune to the threat of terrorism, it was imperative that Member States take the necessary steps to implement the most relevant resolutions and put long-term prevention efforts in place, while ensuring compliance with international law. Italy welcomed efforts by the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the CTED to help Member States implement terrorism-related Security Council resolutions, he said, he said, encouraging the Directorate to do more to engage the private sector in efforts to prevent the exploitation of scientific and technological advances to commit terrorist acts. He also welcomed the 1540 Committee’s outreach activities in support of the capacity-building efforts of Member States.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) emphasized the essential importance of close collaboration in countering terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He welcomed the increasing number of visits to countries and region, including those to Afghanistan and the Lake Chad Basin States, as well as outreach activities to facilitate improvement of national counter-terrorism mechanisms. Recently adopted Council resolutions on international judicial cooperation, protection of critical infrastructure, and protecting cultural property had significantly expanded the mandates of the Counter-Terrorist Committee and CTED, he said, underlining that effective implementation of mandated tasks required adequate capacity and resources. He added that the risk of proliferating weapons of mass destruction were the result of gaps in national legislation and the lack of threat awareness among academia, industry and civil society.
MARIE AUDOUARD (France) said the response to the versatile threat posed by Da’esh — which had carried out attacks in Nice, Berlin and Stockholm — must be comprehensive and well-planned. The 1267 Committee was tasked with analysing terrorist threats through its Monitoring Team, she said, adding that it also provided follow-up on the Sanctions List. France urged States to submit listing requests, but procedures must not hamper the freedoms of listed persons, she said. The 1373 Committee was tasked with raising States’ awareness of new terrorism trends and its special meetings were a good way to providing the necessary information. States must accept visits by CTED, and the United Nations must establish the requisite technical assistance programmes, she said, encouraging joint meetings of the Counter-Terrorism and 1267 Committees to compare analysis of the terrorist threat and implementation of resolutions. Concerning the 1540 Committee, she cited the conclusions reached by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism — Da’esh had used mustard gas in Syria. France stressed the importance of tailoring Council action to that evolving threat, she said, adding that resolution 2325 (2016) had strengthened the Council’s tool-kit in that regard.
WU HAITAO (China) welcomed the work of the three Committees, and called for strengthening capacity building and cooperation. The 1267 Committee was an important mechanism that had carried out a review of the Sanctions List, enhanced its work on listing and delisting, and strengthened cooperation with the Monitoring Team and Ombudsman. Its work was “full of positive results”, he said, encouraging it to enhance communication with States and cooperation with regional and subregional mechanisms. The Monitoring team and the Ombudsman should follow the requirements of the rules of procedures by jointly maintaining the Mechanism’s authority. He encouraged the 1373 Committee, supported by the Directorate, to continue its efforts to combat use of the Internet for terrorist activities and financing. Recalling the adoption of resolution 2325 (2016), he said the 1540 Committee should insist on States taking the lead role in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and avoid establishing new mechanisms. China opposed all forms of terrorism and was implementing relevant resolutions in earnest, he said, adding that his country was willing to work with the international community to promote cooperation in countering terrorism and improving the non-proliferation regime.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said ISIL’s attacks had become even more bloody and indiscriminate as its power had waned, adding that the group was turning to desperate and malicious methods to secure funds, including kidnapping for ransom. The growing security challenges involved in returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters called for enhanced sharing of information, as well as the expertise of the Monitoring Team and the CTED. Concerning the Counter-Terrorism Committee, he welcomed opportunities for dialogue on current challenges, while emphasizing the importance of preventing non-State actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) noted with appreciation the increase in the number of assessment visits and follow-up efforts to help Member States through technical assistance. Regional cooperation should be encouraged and greater attention paid to the most affected countries and regions. Assessment visits should be followed by efforts to facilitate the building of capacity and the technical assistance required to fill existing gaps. Noting that the Committee had identified new threats, he said it had also paid attention to emerging trends and potential responses. Ethiopia urged careful study of existing good practices, while emphasizing the need to take national contexts into account. Noting with great concern the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, and the possibility of their falling into the hands of non-State actors, he called for expanding the agenda with the aim of effecting their total elimination.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal) emphasized that, in a global context characterized by increasingly violent terrorist attacks, pulling the efforts of all three Committees together was encouraging. Given terrorist groups’ exploitation of technology and their desire to wreak havoc among civilians, it was necessary to push back from a unified point of view, he emphasized. There was a global mobilization against terrorism and violent extremism, and in that context, it was of key importance to prevent Africa from being the weak link in the chain, and the continent from becoming a breeding ground for terrorist organizations. Concerned about indications that Da’esh was seeking deployment in other areas of the world, including Africa’s Sahel region, he recalled that the United Nations mission to assess the Libya crisis in 2011 had observed the circulation and smuggling of sophisticated weapons, saying they threatened the security and stability of neighbouring countries and the entire region. It was important that the three Committees establish national, regional and international partnerships, while continuing their complementary cooperation in overlapping areas, although they had distinct mandates.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity, encouraging continued cooperation among the Committees in relation to the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. As for the 1373 Committee, he welcomed CTED’s country visits, saying they made it possible to identify strengths and weakness, and to assess technical and operational capacity. Recalling the Directorate’s recommendations and assessment of Uruguay during its visit to his country, he said its thematic reports as well as the Committee’s meetings were also important. Concerning sanctions, he said they depended on States’ commitment to updating the Sanctions List. Meanwhile, the Ombudsman had made important steps with procedural guarantees, providing transparency in the system, he said. He also emphasized the 1540 Committee’s preventive role, while underlining the importance of cooperation among the three Committees for helping States uphold their obligations.