Security Council Actions to Counter Terrorism

View of the Security CouncilSince the early 1990s, the Security Council has been consistently dealing with terrorism issues. Its actions took the form of sanctions against States considered to have links to certain acts of terrorism: Libya (1992); Sudan (1996) and the Taliban (1999- expanded to include Al-Qaida in 2000 by resolution 1333). A precursor to the intensification of its counter-terrorism work since 2001 9/11 was the adoption in 1999 of resolution 1269, in which the Council urged countries to work together to prevent and suppress all terrorist acts.

Prior to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Security Council had established a strong counter-terrorism tool: the 1267 Committee -- made up of all Council members -- established in 1999 by resolution 1267 and tasked with monitoring the sanctions against the Taliban (and subsequently Al-Qaida as of 2000). At the Security Council’s request, the Secretary-General appointed an Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team to assist the Committee. The Team comprises experts in counter-terrorism and related legal issues, arms embargoes, travel bans and terrorist financing.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Security Council established a Counter-Terrorism Committee also comprising all members of the Security Council, under resolution 1373. The resolution obliges Member States to take a number of measures to prevent terrorist activities and to criminalize various forms of terrorist actions, as well as to take measures that assist and promote cooperation among countries including adherence to international counter-terrorism instruments. Member States are also required to report regularly to the Counter Terrorism Committee on the measures they have taken to implement resolution 1373.

To assist the Committee's work, in 2004 the Council adopted resolution 1535, which called for the setting up of a Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) to monitor the implementation of resolution 1373 and to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to Member states.

Through resolution 1540 (2004), the Council established an additional counter-terrorism - related body: the 1540 Committee - with the task of monitoring Member States' compliance with resolution 1540, which calls on States to prevent non-State actors (including terrorist groups) from accessing weapons of mass destruction.

The Council in a subsequent resolutions urged Member States to take action against groups and organizations engaged in terrorist activities that were not subject to the 1267 Committee's review. Resolution 1566 (2004) established the 1566 Working Group made up of all Council members to recommend practical measures against such individuals and groups, as well as to explore the possibility of setting up a compensation fund for victims of terrorism.

On the margins of the 2005 World Summit, the Security Council held a high-level meeting and adopted Resolution 1624 (2005) condemning all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation, as well as the incitement to such acts. It also called on Member States to prohibit by law terrorist acts and incitement to commit them and to deny safe haven to anyone guilty of such conduct.

Through a number of additional resolutions, the Council has in the past years strengthened the work of its counter-terrorism bodies.

On the heels of the General Assembly’s second review of the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/60/288) and the related adoption of General Assembly resolution 64/297, the Security Council convened on 27 September 2010 an open debate on the threats to international pace and security by terrorist acts.

During the meeting, Council members highlighted the need for a comprehensive, multifaceted approach and for enhanced cooperation within the international community to effectively fight terrorism.

In an ensuing presidential statement (S/PRST/2010/19), the Council expressed concerns that the threat posed by terrorism had become more diffuse, with an increase, in various regions of the world, of terrorist acts, including those motivated by intolerance or extremism, and reaffirmed its determination to combat this threat.

Noting that terrorism would not be defeated by military force, law enforcement measures and intelligence operations alone, Council members emphasized the need to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. In particular, they called for sustained international efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding among civilizations, in an effort to prevent the indiscriminate targeting of different religions and cultures, could help counter the forces that fuelled polarization and extremism.

In its statement, the Council reaffirmed that all terrorist acts were criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed, and that terrorism could not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group.