Fight against terrorism
Since 11 September 2001, the fight against terrorism has become a major concern for the United Nations, especially at the Security Council. The UN General Assembly has played a major normative role in devising thirteen “sectoral” conventions concerning terrorism since 1963.
Action by the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies: main resolutions and sanctions regimes
The Security Council began to examine terrorism issues in the early 1990s. Its action then was mainly to adopt sanctions against States suspected of being linked to certain terrorist acts. In 1999, Resolution 1269 called on all UN Member States to cooperate in preventing and suppressing all terrorist acts. This resolution was a forerunner of the intensification of Security Council initiatives after 11 September 2001.
The UNSC created its first anti-terrorism instrument in 1999 by Resolution 1267: the 1267 Committee, a Security Council subsidiary body, is tasked with monitoring the sanctions (assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo) imposed on individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The Committee meets frequently to update its sanctions list in order to reflect as closely as possible the reality of a continually changing threat. A large number of individuals and entities are placed on the list, generally on the basis of information from States. The Committee’s decisions are made by consensus. Exemptions are provided for, in particular to allow sanctioned individuals to cover their basis expenses. The 1267 Committee employs a monitoring team made available by the Secretary-General.
Now that several hundred individuals and entities are subject to 1267 Committee sanctions, it has become imperative to take their rights into account . Resolution 1730 (2006) established a “focal point” to enable individuals and entities subject to sanctions to directly request their own de-listing, without resorting to State requests. This endowed such individuals and entities with reinforced procedural garantees. Resolution 1822 (2008) further improves their rights by requiring a detailed statement of case, timely notification of the individuals and entities sanctioned by resolution 1267 and regular updating of the sanctions list
A new milestone was reached with the adoption on 17 December 2009 of Resolution 1904 (2009), creating the office of independent Ombudsman Mediator, responsible for considering delisting requests, who replaces, for the activities of the 1267 Committee, the focal point created by Resolution 1730 (2006). The Ombudsman facilitates exchanges between the person or entity asking for delisting and the 1267 Committee.
After 11 September 2001, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1373 (28 September 2001), intended to strengthen international coordination in the fight against terrorism. It created a new subsidiary body, the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), to monitor implementation by States of their obligations under Resolution 1373. The Committee’s tasks include helping to develop national and international mechanisms to prevent and suppress (criminalisation of certain acts in domestic law; adoption of adequate legislation), assisting and promoting international cooperation, encouraging States to ratify the major international anti-terrorism conventions and facilitating the provision of technical assistance (the Committee does not directly provide assistance but seeks to bring together potential donors and recipient States). Member States are required to regularly report to the CTC on measures taken nationally to implement Resolution 1373. To assist the Committee in its work, the Security Council created by Resolution 1535 of 26 March 2004 a Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). This directorate has developed a number of instruments (annual reports on implementation of Resolution 1373, country assessments, country visits).
On 14 September 2005, at the UNGA summit, the Security Council held a meeting of Heads of State and Government during which Resolution 1624 was adopted, requiring States to criminalize and suppress incitements to commit terrorist acts.
Role of the General Assembly: framing of major conventions and adoption of United Nations general strategy
The General Assembly addressed the issue of international terrorism as early as 1972. A general resolution on “measures to eliminate international terrorism” is discussed each year in committee and then adopted in plenary session. Its main aim is to renew the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee on Measures to Eliminate Terrorism which is negotiating a comprehensive convention on terrorism. The thirteen conventions currently in force were framed by the Sixth Committee.
At the September 2005 summit, in their final general declaration, Heads of State and Government unreservedly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They also undertook to use their best endeavours to have the 60th Session of the UNGA in 2006 adopt a global counter-terrorism strategy in order to provide coordinated and coherent responses to terrorism at national, regional and international level.
Member States on the Sixth Committee have since 2000 been negotiating a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. Despite continual efforts by conciliators, discussion always founders on the question of defining the terrorist phenomenon (some countries, including members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, wish to exempt from the definition acts committed in armed struggle against foreign occupation) and consequently the scope of the Convention. Formal negotiating sessions of the Sixth Committee are generally held twice a year.
In September 2006, before the close of its 60th session, the UNGA managed to adopt a United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. With this strategy the General Assembly reaffirmed and strengthened in practical ways its role in fighting terrorism. The strategy is intended to achieve coherence between existing counter-terrorism mechanisms and strengthen cooperation between States and international and regional organisations dealing with terrorism. Inspired by the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s Madrid speech in May 2005, the strategy contains four major strands of measures: to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; to prevent and combat terrorism; to build States’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in this regard; and to ensure compliance with human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism.
The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) established by the UN Secretary-General has the mission of ensuring overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system. It seeks to promote a balanced approach to fighting terrorism in the spirit of the global strategy.
Update : July 2010
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