2 August 2010
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee

 


Presenting the results of a review of all cases on the Consolidated List established and maintained by the Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee, Thomas Mayr-Harting, Committee Chair, said that of a total 488 entries, 45 had been removed and another 66 were pending a final decision at the request of Member States.


The Committee — formally known as the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities — oversees the implementation by States of the three sanctions measures — assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo — imposed by the Security Council on individuals and entities associated with the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida.  It had been directed by Security Council resolution 1822 (2008) to review all entries by 30 June 2010.  (See also Press Release SC/9999)


Of the 488 names on the original Consolidated List, 142 were associated with the Taliban; 346 with Al-Qaida.  During the review process, for the first time, eight deceased people had been taken off the List.  That was not an easy task, Mr. Mayr-Harting said, as convincing proof of death was needed, as well as evidence of what had happened to their assets.  Thirty deceased persons remained on the list.


Describing procedures, Mr. Mayr-Harting, who is also the Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations, said that a de-listing request, once made, was circulated among Committee members, and if no objections were raised, the person or group would be de-listed.  That procedure could be interrupted if a Committee member placed a “hold” on a matter before the Committee, which allowed for more time to examine a case.  It must be lifted before de-listing could occur.  During the review, the Committee had examined 70 such “holds” and developments related to them could be seen in the coming days and weeks.


Among other advances, he said, Kimberly Prost had been appointed as Ombudsperson to gather information and interact with petitioners, relevant States and organizations concerning requests for de-listing.  Further, a review of deceased people would now take place every six months and an annual review would be conducted of entries that lacked “identifiers”.  There would also be an annual review of names on the Consolidated List that had not been examined in the last three or more years.  For the remaining five months of his chairmanship, the Committee would focus on the 66 remaining holds and the first review of deceased persons.


Richard Barrett, Coordinator of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, added that, during the review, the Committee had engaged with two thirds of United Nations Member States.  The process had resulted in changes to 75 per cent of the entries, making the List more effective.  The 45 names removed represented close to 10 per cent of those on the List.  The Monitoring Team’s report, to be given to the Committee by the end of August, would examine the impacts of sanctions.  In the Afghan context, he said, President Hamid Karzai and the recent peace jirga viewed the review of sanctions as an important part of reconciliation.


Fielding a query on the difficulty of obtaining information, including from Pakistan, Mr. Barrett noted that his team had a close relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.  Pakistan had faced difficulty in obtaining information from the border area and coping with Pakistan Taliban.  They did recognize that some members of the Afghan Taliban were present in Pakistan.  “We’re satisfied with the information we get,” he said.


Mr. Mayr-Harting added that many people on the list had been diplomats of the Taliban in various countries.  Information available in country archives was sometimes needed.


Asked if people could find out whether they had been placed under a “hold”, Mr. Mayr-Harting said people were informed they had been de-listed.  Information was not normally conveyed on who had been placed under a hold.


In response to several questions on how the Committee determined that a person was no longer a threat, Mr. Mayr-Harting said information was received from States that had determined that a situation had changed.  Some individuals had convincingly rejected violence and broken with the terrorist organizations.  In other cases, the overall situation had changed.


In every case, the Committee wrote to the countries concerned — whether designating, residence or nationality countries — and an update was sent on whether information related to an individual or group remained appropriate.  The Committee would then determine whether the de-listing should go through.  “At the end of the day it’s a political decision based on a political process”, he said, based on rules set by requirements contained in resolution 1267 (1999).


Responding to a follow-up query about the political nature of de-listing, Mr. Mayr-Harting said that when he felt information was incomplete, contradictory or strange, he would convey that to the Monitoring Team and ask countries for more information.  A large number of cases needed a second look.  By way of example, he pointed to doubts around one entry on the Taliban list and questions about whether the person had even been alive at the time he was listed.  In the process, the opinion of the designating country was of specific importance; if it informed the Committee it had not changed its opinion, the chances for de-listing were limited.


Turning to claims that Al-Shabaab was linked to al-Qaida, Mr. Barrett said that group had been listed on the Somalia sanctions list.  There were various stories about its alleged relationship with al-Qaida.  The Committee had not placed Al-Shabaab on the Consolidated List, as it had not met the threshold of being a threat to international peace and security.  However, their attacks against the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) raised the ante.  “Al‑Shabaab is a work in progress”, he said.


To a question about a double standard in the selection process, Mr. Mayr‑Harting said that for an entity to be on the Consolidated List, there must be a link to Al-Qaida and the Taliban movement.  As to whether additional sanctions regimes should be established for other regional problems, that was a decision the Council would need to take collectively on a case-by-case basis.


Adding to that, Mr. Barrett said that evidence must be accumulated sufficiently to convince the Committee it would be a good listing.  The Committee was open to suggestions, but it must be convinced that any listing was appropriate within the terms of the resolution.


As to whether anyone listed had approached the Ombudsperson, Mr. Mayr-Harting responded that the Ombudsperson had heard one case.


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For information media • not an official record