Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee holds Special meeting to revise principles on foreign fighters

On 13 December 2018, The United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee held a Special meeting in New York on “Security Council resolution 2396 (2017): review of the Madrid Guiding Principles.” Adopted in 2015, the Madrid Guiding Principles consists of 35 practical tools to assist States in stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) to conflict zones.

Since these principles were adopted three years ago, the flow of FTFs to conflict zones has decreased. However, as FTFs are returning to their home countries, relocating to other States, or to different conflict zones, a number of different challenges arise, including former foreign fighters’ possible re-engagement in terrorist activities.

“Some FTFs may be returning or relocating together with family members who accompanied them to conflict zones, with families formed in the conflict zones, or with family members born in the conflict zones,” stated H.E. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations, and Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee.

The CTC Special meeting was chaired by H.E. Meza-Cuadra of Peru.

“The flow of FTFs back to their home countries or to other countries is expected to increase in the coming years. The lethality of terrorist attacks has fallen, but the number of unsuccessful attacks has risen,” said Assistant Secretary-General Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).

At the meeting, Member States, international and regional organizations, civil society, practitioners, and experts discussed ways in which the Madrid Guiding Principles could be updated to address these and other challenges.

Many foreign terrorist fighters evade detection because some States lack the necessary resources and capacity to track them. Some panelists therefore expressed the need for support to strengthen countries’ border management. Others stressed the importance of increased information-sharing and cooperation between various sectors of society, including military and police, in order to identify, investigate, and prosecute terrorist suspects. Also the need for biometric data to help identify FTFs was highlighted. Several panellists further stressed the need for full compliance with international legal obligations, especially the protection of human rights when collecting evidence and conducting risk assessments or appropriate targeting measures.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres was represented by Assistant Secretary-General Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Department of Political Affairs, whereas the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) was represented by Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov (via video message).

More photos from the Special meeting can be found at CTED’s Flickr account, available here.

A webcast recording of the first part of the meeting is available here, and of the second part here.

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Additional statements/presentations will be added shortly.