Foreign terrorist fighters

Foreign Terrorist Fighters

UN Photo/ Stuart Price

"Breaking up trafficking organizations and addressing the criminal use of fixed routes is crucial to countering movements of foreign terrorist fighters and arms, including to and from Iraq and Syria."

-- UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses participants at the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Cooperation to Promote Peace, Security and Stability event.

Threats to international peace and security

Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) that remain in conflict zones, return to their countries of origin or nationality, or relocate to third countries, continue to pose a serious threat to international peace and security. In response to the evolving FTF phenomenon, Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2396 (2017) established and reinforced international obligations related to border security and information sharing, including the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) and Advance Passenger Information (API), biometrics, and watchlists. Resolution 2396 further calls for strengthened judicial cooperation and implementation of appropriate prosecution, as well as rehabilitation, and reintegration strategies for FTFs and their accompanying family members. The 2015 Madrid Guiding Principles and its 2018 Addendum also provide additional guidance on the issue of FTFs.

To support requesting Member States in their efforts, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) is implementing projects to increase States’ ability to identify, track, and disrupt FTF mobility through enhanced information sharing, and to strengthen their capacities in the Internet for investigations related to FTFs. The Office also supports Member States in adopting human rights-based treatment of children associated with foreign terrorist fighters. Additionally, programmes/projects on border security and management, API/PNR, countering terrorist financing and cyber security all address the evolving FTF phenomenon. It also coordinates the UN Capacity Building Implementation Plan for Countering the Flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

Women and children with links to terrorist groups

In April 2019, the Secretary-General published a set of “Key Principles for the Protection, Repatriation, Prosecution, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Women and Children with Links to UN Listed Terrorist Groups”, intended to ensure coherence and coordination in the support provided by the UN system to Member States in addressing these challenges.

Counter-terrorism resources


Foreign Terrorist Fighters text submitted to a principal organ or a subsidiary organ of the United Nations.

  • Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014)
  • Security Council resolutions 2396 (2017)
  • 2015 Madrid Guiding Principles