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The Chairs of three terrorism-related Security Council subsidiary bodies briefed members this morning, reporting on the activities of its Committee’s concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Al-Qaida and associated groups, counter-terrorism and sanctions.
Gerard van Bohemen (New Zealand), Chair of the Committee concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, said ISIL had lost control of some territory, and the destruction of significant parts of its oil infrastructure had led to a drop in its internal capacity to generate revenue. In response, the group was looking to increase its revenues through internal taxation, the smuggling of antiquities and kidnapping for ransom. While some foreign terrorist fighters returned from conflict zones disillusioned by what they had experienced, others returned radicalized, battle-hardened and well-networked.
He went on to warn that such fighters posed a great risk to the wider international community. It was difficult to detect their travel because many used broken travel routes to and from conflict zones, which made it much harder to track them. ISIL affiliates were steadily gaining footholds in Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen, becoming increasingly important to the main group’s survival. Noting that the movement of funds and fighters outside ISIL-controlled territory provided an opportunity for Member States to detect and prevent its spreading further afield, he said that sanctions, when effectively targeted and implemented, could exert pressure on ISIL and its affiliates, preventing them from distributing funds and disrupting further attacks on civilian populations.
Council President Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt) then briefed in his capacity as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. “Terrorist groups continue to identify innovative funding methods, and the international community must be equipped with the tools to mount an effective response,” he emphasized. The Counter-Terrorism Committee had identified good practices in stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters while enhancing its cooperation with international and regional organizations. It was also developing new tools to facilitate dialogue among Member States on implementation of resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005). Guiding principles identified at the Committee’s recent special meeting included a focus on helping Member States with detecting, intervening and preventing the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, stopping their travel, as well as criminalizing, prosecuting and rehabilitating them, he said.
Román Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain), Chair of the 1540 Committee concerning non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, said that body had undertaken a steadily increasing number of measures in implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), but, given the varying capacities of Member States, that was a long-term task, requiring continuous attention. ISIL had a chemical weapons programme and was drawing on available technology and materials to develop improvised devices. He warned that advances in science and technology posed a risk of misuse, despite their important humanitarian and economic benefits.
In the ensuing debate, Senegal’s representative echoed that sentiment, noting that rapid advances in science and technology, as well as spreading globalization, enabled terrorists to gain access to weapons of mass destruction. He underscored the need to build on the momentum from a February meeting in Côte d’Ivoire — on the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) — and to strengthen cooperation between the Council’s subsidiary committees and the continent.
The Russian Federation’s representative said the effectiveness of the three committees would determine the Security Council’s future counter-terrorism efforts. Smuggled artefacts, as well as oil and fighters, were traversing Turkey, he said, stressing that the international community must acknowledge those facts in order to overcome the common threat posed by ISIL.
Japan’s representative said that countering the flow of foreign fighters and finances was of key importance in combating terrorism them, noting that his country had provided assistance to some countries in the form of fingerprint and facial-recognition technology.
Venezuela’s representative said the fight against terrorism should be conducted through international cooperation, with full respect for sovereignty and international law.
Angola’s representative said that sanctions alone could not win the fight, emphasizing instead the imperative of strengthening international and local cooperation in seeking creative ways to launch an ideological effort against terrorism.
Also speaking today were representatives of China, United States, Uruguay, Malaysia, France, United Kingdom and Ukraine.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:53 a.m.
GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, delivered the first briefing.
He said the threat posed by ISIL had shifted since December. The group had lost control of some territory, and the destruction of significant parts of its oil infrastructure had led to a drop in its internal revenue generation. In response, however, ISIL was looking to increase revenues through internal taxation, the smuggling of antiquities and kidnapping for ransom. As reported by the Monitoring Team, ISIL’s centre of gravity was shifting, and the threat it posed was expanding geographically as its affiliates sprang up around the world. While some foreign terrorist fighters had returned from conflict zones disillusioned by what they had experienced, others returned radicalized, battle-hardened and well-networked, he said, warning that such fighters posed a great risk to the wider international community. It was also difficult to detect the travel of foreign terrorist fighters, he said, pointing out that many used broken travel routes to and from conflict zones, making it much harder to track them.
It was, therefore, essential that Member States share information to facilitate better detection and disruption of travel by foreign terrorist fighters, he continued. Furthermore, ISIL affiliates were steadily gaining footholds in Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen, becoming increasingly important to the main group’s survival. It was crucial that Member States, particularly those neighbouring Iraq and Syria, exercise vigilance in implementing the 1267 regime, he emphasized. The movement of funds and fighters outside ISIL-controlled territory provided an opportunity for Member States to detect and prevent it from spreading further afield, he said. When effectively targeted and implemented, sanctions could exert pressure on ISIL and its affiliates, preventing the dispersal of funds and disrupting further attacks on civilian populations. Among other things, it was crucial that Member States engage with and provide updated information to the Monitoring Team and the 1267 Committee on the nature of threats, listed individuals and entities.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), Council President for May, spoke in his capacity as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001), on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
Providing an overview of the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s recent activities, he said it had taken a wide range of actions to help Member States address pressing threats, including flows of foreign terrorist fighters. In addressing that threat, the Committee was developing new tools to facilitate dialogue among Member States on implementing resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005). It had also identified gaps and good practices in stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters while enhancing cooperation with international and regional organizations. Guiding principles identified at the Committee’s recent special meeting included a focus on helping Member States with detecting, intervening and preventing the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, stopping their travel, as well as criminalizing, prosecuting and rehabilitating them, he said. The Committee had presented the results of the related survey of Member States to the Security Council in January, he recalled.
Turning to the use of information and communications technologies for terrorist purposes, he said that a special meeting held in December 2015 had considered ways to develop a multistakeholder approach. With support from the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), it would hold another meeting to follow up on partnerships established with key private sector players. As new terrorist financing trends emerged, he said that disrupting those flows presented significant challenges to Member States. “Terrorist groups continue to identify innovative funding methods, and the international community, especially those Member States directly affected, must be equipped with the tools required to mount an effective response,” he emphasized. To address that challenge, he said, the Counter-Terrorism Committee would convene, in December, a joint meeting with the ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, in which the Financial Action Task Force would also participate.
He went on to state that participants in a recent joint open briefing had discussed the possibility of granting national financial intelligence units access to personal information in order to ensure more effective sharing of social security and tax records subject to domestic laws. The Counter-Terrorism Committee recognized that its effectiveness rested on how rapidly it carried out its work, he said, noting that it had been implementing measures to improve its responsiveness. As such, it had requested that the CTED present findings immediately following visits to Member States, most recently Ghana, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Iraq. The Committee had also met informally with Iraq, the donor community and technical assistance providers to discuss collective efforts to build that country’s counter-terrorism capacity, thereby marking a significant improvement from previous practices, he said.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) concerning the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, said extreme violence was stronger than ever. Recent reports by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and discussions in the Council had proven that ISIL had a chemical weapons programme and was developing improvised devices, drawing on available technology and materials. The need to counter the constantly evolving nature of terrorism was complicated by rapid advances in science, technology and commerce, he said, warning that, despite their important humanitarian and economic benefits, they posed a risk of misuse that Member States must address.
Regarding implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he noted that, since 2010, there had been a steady increase in the measures undertaken. Due to the varying capacities of Member States, it was clear that full implementation was a long-term task, requiring continuous attention. In order to advance effective implementation, it was crucial that the Council further strengthen the Committee’s direct interaction with Member States, he emphasized. Among other things, the increase in the development of voluntary national implementation action plans had proven to be important in engaging national stakeholders and improving their internal coordination.
The Committee needed to improve its assistance mechanism, he said, adding that it had decided to take a regional approach. In accordance with that decision, it had held a meeting in Addis Ababa, bringing African States together with providers to discuss the delivery of assistance. On outreach, he said that despite mandate-related constraints, the Committee had enjoyed some remarkable successes. Visits to Member States and national round tables had proven successful in promoting the development of voluntary national implementation action plans, he said, highlighting the introduction of training courses for national 1540 points of contact as another innovation in outreach.
JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said the briefings had demonstrated the Council’s dedication to addressing the pernicious challenge of terrorism. The return of foreign terrorist fighters from Syria posed a great risk to the international community while providing an opportunity to improve the impact of the 1267 sanctions regime. However, sanctions alone could not win the fight, he said, emphasizing the imperative of strengthening international to local cooperation in order to find creative ways to launch an ideological effort to combat terrorism. Flows of foreign terrorist fighters and terrorist financing must end, he said, urging increased coordination among global and regional stakeholders. Saying he was worried about terrorists and other non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction, he voiced appreciation of the 1540 Committee’s efforts in that regard.
WU HAITAO (China) said his delegation appreciated the progress made in the three committees. ISIL and other terrorist forces posed a serious threat to the international community, which should use a number of means to counter them on the basis of nationally appropriate approaches. Sanctions lists should be kept up to date and efforts should remain in line with the work of the relevant committee. He noted the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s country visits, hosting of meetings and sharing of information on tackling the presence of terrorists on the Internet. The 1540 Committee would soon focus on a comprehensive review, which would help to further strengthen the capacity of Member States to halt the proliferation of weapons among terrorist groups. It was also important to fight regional threats in all their forms, he said, noting that countermeasures should not target specific ethnicities or religions. Instead, a high-intensity campaign must be undertaken to halt terrorism, he said, stressing that China would continue to support the work of the three committees.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said the effectiveness of the three committees would determine the Security Council’s future counter-terrorism efforts at a time when terrorist groups posed a grave threat. Most serious was ISIL, which had gained a foothold in Libya and other fragile countries. Implementation of the relevant resolutions remained the main problem, and a special responsibility rested with Member States that were neighbours of affected countries. Data demonstrated that smuggled artefacts, oil and fighters were taking routes that traversed Turkey, he said, emphasizing in that regard, that the international community must acknowledge those facts so as to be able to overcome the common threat posed by ISIL. Since the 1540 Committee was visiting Member States and undertaking actions, including review of its efforts, it required fine-tuning rather than radical changes, he said, stressing in that regard, that Member States could cooperate directly with the 1540 Committee while avoiding duplicative efforts that would be detrimental to its work.
MICHELE SISON (United States) said that, despite the progress made in the fight against terrorism, more must be done in light of its spread around the world. Calling attention to the increasing number of terrorist fighters returning home, she said they posed significant problems for their respective societies, adding that it was clear that no country was immune, and calling upon all to take a unified approach. She emphasized the need for full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, saying that was central to counter-terrorism efforts. On the Counter-Terrorism Committee, she said the implementation of sanctions remained of key importance. She also stressed the need to generate international resources to identify the vulnerabilities of Member States. Turning to the work of the 1540 Committee, she said the relevant resolution provided guidance on countering the activities of Da’esh and encouraged Member States to redouble their efforts.
HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) said the fight against terrorism should be conducted through international cooperation, with sovereignty and international law taken into account, emphasizing that preventing terrorist financing and training was essential for progress. On ISIL, he noted that although the group was weaker, it remained a source of concern. While commending the work of the ISIL/Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, he stressed the importance of transparency and independence. Venezuela also supported the work of the 1373 Committee on counter-terrorism, he said, noting that its reports provided great guidance. It was crucial to dismantle the funding sources of terrorist organizations and to address the root causes of extremism, he said in conclusion.
YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) said that, with the world facing frequent terrorist attacks, countering the flows of foreign terrorist fighters and finances was of key importance in combating them alongside full implementation of the relevant Council resolutions. Noting national advances in such areas as fingerprint- and face-recognition technology at borders and airports, he said that because terrorists exploited vulnerable countries lacking such capacities, Japan had provided some of them with assistance, including fingerprint readers that linked to identification databases. It had also taken measures to share information on terrorist finances at the national and regional levels, he said, emphasizing the links between terrorist activities and trafficking in drugs and human beings, as well as oil smuggling. With that in mind, any counter-terrorism measures must also consider links with transnational organized crime. Non-proliferation was also critical, he said, noting Japan’s efforts to share knowledge in that regard.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said the timely briefings had taken place as violent terrorist attacks occurred worldwide. A multisectoral approach was needed to combat that trend, with resolution 1540 (2004) allowing a cohesive approach to facing terrorism around the world. Rapid advances in science and technology, as well as spreading globalization enabled terrorists to gain access to weapons of mass destruction, he said, recalling that February meeting in Côte d’Ivoire on the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) had further advanced efforts across Africa. To building on that momentum, there was a need for continued and strengthened cooperation between the committees and the continent. There was also a need to bolster the sharing of information and intelligence so as to halt the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, he said, pointing out that they posed a real threat to origin, transit and destination countries. Better border-control management was also necessary to address that problem without undermining the free circulation of goods and persons.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) reiterated his country’s commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, saying terrorists were trying to destroy those principles and values. For success in the fight against terrorism, the political will of Member States must be in place, he said, adding that it was important to build stronger capacity for the implementation of relevant decisions. Among other things, coordination among international organizations, financial institutions and Member States was the key to supporting national efforts to strengthening capacity.
SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) expressed her country’s long-standing commitment to combat and eradicate terrorism. It was crucial that the three committees work together to create further synergies. Among other things, she stressed the need to work with civil society organizations, academia and the private sector. Calling attention to the complex nature of attacks and to evidence that Da’esh was actively pursuing a chemical weapons programme, she stressed the importance of addressing gaps and areas requiring further attention.
MARIE AUDOUARD (France) expressed appreciation for the progress reported, including the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s strides in dialogue with Member States as well as the Sanctions Committee’s updating of its lists and improvement of its working methods. Indeed, advances had been made on a range of resolutions, from foreign terrorist fighters to financing, as well as useful field visits and assessments. For further effectiveness, the CTCED should work with other United Nations entities on projects that would improve the technical capacities of Member States to combat terrorism, she said. Turning to the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons, she expressed regret over the grave threats currently seen Syria. Yet, the 1540 Committee was taking steps to help Member States by, among other measures, strengthening approaches to preventing the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said that while counter-terrorism tools had been developed over the last decade, the threat of terrorism had changed, with groups such as Boko Haram terrorizing vulnerable groups and Al-Qaida spreading around the globe. The current threat pose by Da’esh had triggered the United Kingdom to take action. While that group had become less able to finance and fuel its actions, with the committees “tightening the noose” around its neck, new trends were emerging, including greater numbers of foreign fighters returning home. “We cannot be complacent,” he emphasized, urging the United Nations to share best practices and lessons learned. Turning to the threat of toxic weapons falling into terrorist hands, he said worrying reports of chemical weapons use in Syria demonstrated the need for increasingly vigorous efforts to prevent it. All Governments must sign and fulfil their obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. Countering Da’esh, stopping foreign fighters and stamping out terrorist ideologies required a coordinated approach, he said, suggesting that strategic-level guidance must be strengthened across the United Nations system to achieve maximum results.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said the committees had made progress through teamwork and actions to deprive terrorists of funding, among other steps. Yet, persistent challenges to fighting ISIL must be addressed in a coordinated manner by all the committees. Commending their pace in making country visits and finding effective counter-terrorism mechanisms, he emphasized the importance of available tools for exerting pressure on terrorists within the existing sanctions framework. Ukraine supported the introduction of a range of targeted counter-terrorism sanctions and full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he said. While terrorism and the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors remained a serious threat to international peace and security, there was a need to ensure effective cooperation and coordination among the relevant Security Council subsidiary bodies, particularly in terms of outreach activities and the exchange of information.