Countering the scourge of terrorism has been on the agenda of the United Nations for decades. In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks against the United States in 2001, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1373 (2001), which for the first time established a dedicated Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) of the Council. The CTC is assisted by an Executive Directorate (CTED), which carries out its policy decisions and conducts expert assessments of the 193 United Nations Member States. By January 2021, more than 160 visits to some 100 UN Member States had been conducted since CTED was declared operational 13 years earlier.
Over 20 Security Council resolutions exist that pertain to the CTC and CTED, an overwhelming majority of which were adopted over the last seven years, which demonstrate the complexity of the evolution of the threat of terrorism which prompted the Security Council to adopt resolutions outlining new measures for Member States to undertake in order to effectively counter the emerging threats of terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters, CTED’s mandate was most recently renewed by Security Council resolution 2395 (2017), which extends the Special Political Mission until 31 December 2021. This resolution underscores that CTED’s assessments, and the analysis and recommendations from those assessments, are an invaluable aid to Member States in identifying and addressing gaps in implementation and capacity, and calls on the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), all other relevant United Nations funds and programmes, Member States, donors, and recipients to use these expert assessments in their development of technical assistance and capacity- building projects. The resolution further underlines the essential role of CTED within the United Nations to identify and assess issues, trends, and developments related to the implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions.
CTED conducts country visits on the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s behalf to assess Member States’ counter-terrorism efforts, including progress made, remaining shortfalls, and priority areas for technical assistance needs, as well as to identify terrorism-related trends and challenges and good practices employed in the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions. CTED’s visits to Member States, conducted on the Committee’s behalf, is the primary tool to be used by the CTC to effectively fulfil its mandate to monitor, promote and facilitate Member States’ implementation of Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2178 (2014), 2396 (2017), 2462 (2019) and 2482 (2019) and other relevant Council resolutions.
Engagement in on-site dialogue with the CTC provides visited Member States with a vital opportunity to demonstrate to the United Nations and to the international community the range of legal, institutional and practical efforts that they have undertaken to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions on terrorism. On-site assessment dialogue with Member States is the central task of the CTC and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), which is required, pursuant to the relevant Council resolutions, to conduct the dialogue on the Committee’s behalf. During the visits, CTED engages in in-depth dialogue with national experts to learn about their experiences and to identify strengths, good practices and progress made in implementing the relevant Council resolutions and related international standards, and remaining challenges and areas in which the visited State may benefit from receiving technical assistance. A number of visited States have described the assessment visits as a “free diagnosis” that assists them with disseminating good practices, addressing challenges, and/or facilitating technical assistance. Neither the CTC nor CTED provides technical assistance. Instead, their role is to facilitate the delivery of assistance, by partner entities and organizations both within and outside the United Nations system, through targeted and tailored capacity-building projects. The on-site dialogue enables visited Member States to examine their own national counter-terrorism measures against the relevant international standards, prioritize the competing action plans of their various national agencies, and share their good practices with the international community (including with States with which they may not yet have established bilateral cooperation agreements).
The on-site assessment is technical in nature and conducted in accordance with a fixed methodology that is applicable to all Member States, neutral, uniform, even-handed, and consistent. Conducted in close partnership with international experts, it also serves to bring Member States’ views more in line with those of the experts of United Nations entities and international, regional and subregional organizations that participate in the visits.
New and Improved Assessment Tools & Processes
In order to ensure thoroughness, consistency, transparency and even-handedness in the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s assessment of Member State’ counter-terrorism measures, CTED has been using two desk-based assessment tools: the Overview of Implementation Assessment (OIA) and the Detailed Implementation Survey (DIS), which were developed to assist the Committee and its Executive Directorate (CTED) in continuing their constructive dialogue with Member States and in monitoring and promoting their implementation of resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2178 (2014), 2396 (2017) and other relevant resolutions.
As of January 2021, CTED launched its new and improved assessment tools & processes include the cloud-based CTED assessment and analysis portal, launched in January 2021, which reflects the new mandates conferred upon CTED by relevant resolutions, is user-friendly, and makes the most effective possible use of qualitative and quantitative data. This portal allows password-protected access, retaining key elements of CTED’s current assessment and survey tools to allow comparability with previous Committee-approved reports. The tool serves to simplify and streamline CTED assessments, improve their utility for the design of technical assistance and capacity-building support, and facilitate current and real-time production of analysis and reports. Additionally, the portal facilitates the availability of the country assessments, recommendations, surveys, and analytical products throughout the United Nations system, and enhances the sharing of its findings with Member States and relevant partners.
With the completion of the Overview of Implementation Assessments and Detailed Implementation Surveys for all United Nations Member States by the end of 2020, CTED finished almost all desk reviews of Member States in accordance with the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s procedures, and is now ready to utilize the new and improved assessment tools.
Facilitation of Technical Assistance
CTED supports the Counter-Terrorism Committee in facilitating technical assistance as per Security Council resolution 1377 (2001) adopted on 12 November 2001. This resolution provided political guidance to the CTC on how to facilitate technical assistance:
“[The Security Council] invites the Counter-Terrorism Committee to explore ways in which States can be assisted, and in particular to explore with international, regional and subregional organizations: the promotion of best-practice in the areas covered by resolution 1373 (2001), including the preparation of model laws as appropriate, the availability of existing technical, financial, regulatory, legislative or other assistance programmes which might facilitate the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), the promotion of possible synergies between these assistance programmes, As such, neither the Committee nor CTED are providers of technical assistance. Instead, they facilitate technical assistance by linking available technical assistance projects with the technical assistance needs identified by CTED on behalf of the Committee during assessment visits.
Strengthened Cooperation Between United Nations Counter-Terrorism Bodies
Cooperation with other Security Council Subsidiary bodies
CTED’s major partners include other relevant Security Council subsidiary organs such as the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee; the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004); and the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011). The work carried out in this context notably included the joint report of CTED and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team pursuant to resolutions 1526 (2004) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities on actions taken by Member States to disrupt terrorist financing, prepared pursuant to paragraph 37 of Council resolution 2462 (2019).
Furthermore, the relevant Committees and their respective expert groups stepped up their regular joint consultations. The Executive Director held quarterly meetings with the Coordinator of the Analytical and Sanctions Monitoring Team, and the Coordinator of the Expert Group of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004). The quarterly updates that previously delivered by the Monitoring Team and CTED have evolved into tri-committee meetings, which also include the experts of the “1540 Committee” and involve all CTED staff to discuss latest information about various regions of concern and other counter-terrorism related issues.
Partnership with United Nations bodies and international and regional organizations
Security Council 1456 (2003) lays down the partnership between CTC, and now CTC/CTED, and other partners. Apart from the need to explore available technical assistance programs at those partners for CTED to facilitate the delivery of technical assistance, the partnership is also intended for advancing the relevant international standards related to counter-terrorism through the relevant Security Council resolutions. To such end, the Security Council has requested the CTC in 2003:
“in monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001) to bear in mind all international best practices, codes and standards which are relevant to the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), and underlines its support for the CTC’s approach in constructing a dialogue with each State on further action required to fully implement resolution 1373 (2001).”
Today, CTED continues to develop new global networks and partnerships to further enhance the work of the Committee, including by:
- Participating in conferences, national workshops, round-table discussions, Ministerial Meetings and working-group meetings organized by relevant stakeholders.
- Strengthening and expanding its engagement with civil society, including by organizing regular consultations with civil society, convening several multi-sectoral virtual discussions on, inter alia, PRR, safeguarding civic space when implementing CFT measures, masculinities in the context of counter-terrorism and CVE.
- Expanding its work with the private sector, including through Tech against Terrorism, in partnership with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). In this context, CTED and Tech against Terrorism organized a webinar on “Cooperation between the United Nations and smaller tech platforms in countering use of the Internet for terrorist purposes”.
- Strengthening its engagement with the research community via the GRN, including by co-organizing several events (e.g., a panel on “COVID-19 and Counter-Terrorism: Key Global Trends and Challenges” and a virtual round table on “Emerging trends in violent extremism conducive to terrorism: a focus on extreme-right wing terrorism”).
- Working with other United Nations agencies to support regional-level strategies developed by Member States and regional organizations that are relevant to CTED’s mandate (e.g., the LCBC Regional Stabilization Strategy (in particular its sub-strategy on SPRR)).
United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism
- Since the adoption of resolution 2395 (2017), CTED intensified its cooperation with UNOCT and the other member entities of the Global Coordination Compact, acting in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Council (in particular the provisions of Council resolution 2395 (2017)) and the relevant provisions of the Global Strategy, with a view to promoting implementation of the four pillars of the Strategy and their corresponding measures. That cooperation included, inter alia, the following:
- UNOCT Under-Secretary-General Voronkov and the CTED Executive Director continued to hold regular consultations, conduct joint high-level visits, and participate in international events and joint briefings to the Committee and the Council
- CTED continued to collaborate with UNOCT in defining priority regions and areas for the facilitation and delivery of technical assistance and capacity-building
- Continued collaboration on country visits (prior to the imposition of pandemic-related restrictions) and deep-dive follow-up missions to States
- Design and development of projects and programmes
- CTED actively worked with, and contributed to, the Global Coordination Compact Working Groups, serving as Chair of the Working Group on Border Management and Law Enforcement Relating to Counter-Terrorism; Co-Chair of the Working Group on National and Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategies; and Vice-Chair of the Working Groups on Criminal Justice, Legal Responses, and Countering the Financing of Terrorism; on Gender-Sensitive Approach to Preventing and Countering Terrorism; and on Resource Mobilization, and Monitoring and Evaluation.
- More than 600 recommendations stemming from the Committee’s country visits were added to the Global Portal of the Coordination Compact. Seventeen country visits reports were also added, with the consent of the Member States concerned.
- CTED continued to collaborate with UNOCT and Global Coordination Compact entities in developing initiatives to assist States to counter terrorist narratives.
Here is more information about UNOCT and the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact.