Under Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), Member States are required to undertake measures to deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist attacks. This obligation requires Member States to take a number of steps, including legislative measures on criminalisation and jurisdiction. In addition, the Security Council has called on Member States to take appropriate measures, in conformity with international law, before granting refugee status, to ensure that an asylum-seeker has not planned, facilitated, or participated in the commission of terrorist acts. According to the UN Refugee Convention, protection may not be afforded to any person if there are serious reasons for considering that he or she has committed such acts.

In practice, however, Member States face a number of challenges in meeting these obligations, including limited resources, porous borders, insufficient information sharing, and lack of a regional framework for cooperation in criminal matters. In situations where asylum-seekers constitute part of a large influx of migrants, Member States often encounter difficulties in identifying such persons in a timely manner. Screening is often conducted in an ad hoc manner with minimal, if any, reference to national and international watch lists.

With a view to discussing these challenges, identifying good practices and areas in which further efforts are required, the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee on 5 April 2017 organized an open briefing. Divided into two sessions, the first panel – Denying safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts, or provide safe havens – featured speakers from INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED); also Ms. Lori Damrosch, Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, Columbia University, participated. The second session – Preventing terrorists from abusing the asylum system, in conformity with international law – included presentations by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and by the Assistant Director with the Office of Legal Affairs of INTERPOL.

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In his opening remarks, Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee H.E. Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations, stressed that the two themes raised in the meeting are related in that they are both important to prevent the movement of terrorists, including foreign terrorist fighters.

Mr. Weixiong Chen, CTED Deputy Executive Director, in his closing remarks highlighted the mandate and unique role of the CTC and CTED in facilitating capacity-building and promoting good practices to address those challenges.

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The prepared remarks by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are available here.

The intervention from UNODC is accessible here.

The remarks by Ali Rached of INTERPOL is available here.

The remarks by Yaron Gottlieb of INTERPOL is available here.

Remarks by Edward J. Flynn is available here.

A webcast recording of the entire open briefing can be found here.