Press Conference on Work of Security Council Al-Qaida, Taliban Sanctions Committee

27 October 2009

Press Conference on Work of Security Council Al-Qaida, Taliban Sanctions Committee

27 October 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Work of Security Council Al-Qaida, Taliban Sanctions Committee

The main purpose of reviewing every entry on the Consolidated List compiled by the Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee was to improve its credibility, Committee Chairman Thomas Mayr-Harting, Permanent Representative of Austria, said today at a Headquarters press conference.

Updating correspondents on the activities of the Committee, officially known as the Security Council established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities, he said the review of individuals and entities on the List, against whom sanctions such as asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo should be applied, had been requested in Council resolution 1822 (2008).

Considerable efforts had been made to improve the transparency of the Committee’s work through a solid review of those entries and by providing narrative summaries for the reason of listing individuals and entities, said Mr. Mayr-Harting, who was joined at the press conference by Richard Barrett, Coordinator of the Committee’s Monitoring Team.

The Consolidated List currently contained 504 entries, 397 of which were individuals.  Explaining the procedures for the review of entries, Mr. Mayr-Harting stressed that at the end, a decision on listing or de-listing had to be made by consensus among the 15 Committee members, who are also all members of the Security Council.  So far, 68 entries had been discussed, resulting in confirmation of 50 cases to remain on the list, and 8 entities or individuals to be de-listed (10 cases were still pending).  Among the de-listed entries were Youssef Mustapha Nada Ebada and Barakaat International Foundation.  Both those cases had been challenged before the European Court.

Among the challenges in determining the accuracy of the List was the lack of identifiers such as accurate name, date of birth and address, he said.  After all, in order to apply sanctions, one had to know against whom sanctions had to be imposed, otherwise such organizations as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) could not provide sufficient information to border control institutions.  He added that forty listed individuals, moreover, were believed to be dead and should be removed after it was determined that their assets would not be used for the financing of terrorism.

Noting that there were currently some 30 cases involving listings that had been challenged before national or regional courts around the world, he said one of the Committee’s outreach activities had included a visit to the European Union in Brussels.  The European Union’s member States faced a challenge as the Council’s decisions had to be transposed into national or European Union law, which then could be contested before a court.  The flow of information to the European Union and national authorities must therefore be improved.  Everyone’s right to be heard had to be respected.  A follow-up to resolution 1822 (2008), expected around the end of the year, should therefore further improve listing and de-listing procedures.

Richard Barrett, Coordinator of the Committee’s Monitoring Team, said that ten years after adoption of resolution 1267, Al Qaida and the Taliban still posed a threat to the international community, as was evident in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.  The sanctions regime established by that resolution was the primary non-military regime to counter that threat.  The regime had been trying to make international measures reduce that threat by enabling national and regional authorities to conduct their work effectively.  The Consolidated List, with over 500 names, was not exhaustive, but captured the main elements of the threat.

Answering questions about challenges to the List currently before the courts, Mr. Mayr-Harting said the Security Council was not directly involved with court cases, but sometimes information was required.  That could be sensitive, as Committee decisions were sometimes based on confidential information provided by States.  Placement on the List did not imply guilt.  It was not a punitive, but a preventive measure, which indeed could have serious consequences for an individual or entity, as sanctions included asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

He said the process of listing depended a great deal on the designating State, which should present a solid case.  It was true that when the sanctions regime had first gone into effect, individuals or entities were placed on the list with more ease than since resolution 1822 (2008).  Now, however, every request for listing was considered in depth by every Committee member, he said, stressing that decisions must be taken by consensus and that had led countries to now “think twice” before they requested a listing.

A decision to de-list did not imply that a mistake had been made, but just that the Committee had determined that the entity or individual no longer posed a threat.  If an entity or individual ceased to be a problem, the reason for the preventive measure of listing also ceased to exist.  That could be the case for some Taliban commanders who might engage in negotiations.  Also, exemptions could be made, for instance, on travel restrictions.

Although listed individuals and entities had not been heard by the Committee, they could make their objections heard through the Committee’s Focal Point, another result of resolution 1822 (2008), he said.  Follow-up was needed to further improve the provisions of that resolution.

Mr. Barret added that there had been cases of charities listed for funnelling finances to terrorist activities but otherwise doing good work such as providing for refugees and internally displaced persons.  Those charities must be listed but were not listed for the work they did.  The State could decide that the charity work must continue but that terrorist activity must end and could then distribute part of the charity’s frozen assets according to the wishes of the donors.  He added that once a decision on de-listing had been taken, it would be published in a press release and on the Committee’s web site.  No information was provided before a decision was taken.

Asked how effective the Consolidated List had been in preventing money going to terrorist activities, Mr. Barret said that one could never know how much terrorist activities had or had not been prevented.  There was, however, agreement among States involved that the sanctions regime had had enough impact to make the efforts for its implementation worthwhile.

Asked about situation in Somalia and about reports that the United States had held back some $100 million in food aid believed to be going to Al-Shabaab, Mr. Barret said that country had been without an effective government since 1991 and parts were still being fought over.  It was not the intention of the Council to make the situation worse there, but to try to prevent Al-Qaida from taking advantage of the situation.  Al-Shabaab, for instance, had made many statements in support of Al-Qaida and vice versa, but Al-Shabaab was not on the Consolidated List.  Although Somalia depended on aid, the international community did not want to provide aid that would go to fighting.  The Council’s sanctions regime had to fit in with the overall effort to promote peace and stability in Somalia.

Asked about remarks of Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, that the United Nations should not be in the business of listing people, but should set standards on which national courts could act, Mr. Mayr-Harting said he would meet with Mr. Scheinin tomorrow.

He said Mr. Scheinin had expressed a strong interest in even further improving the procedures prescribed by resolution 1822 (2008), a concern that was shared by the Committee.  The fight against terrorism had to be conducted through collective global measures, in conformity with the rules of international law.  One of the problems was that those who wanted to fight terrorism and criminals often were lagging behind those they were trying to attack.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.