8496th Security Council Meeting: Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts - Part 1

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28-Mar-2019 03:35:33
Security Council unanimously adopts resolution calling upon member states to combat and criminalize financing of terrorists and their Activities at 8496h meeting.

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New Technologies Must Not Stifle Financial Inclusion, Cautions Expert, Citing $1.7 Billion ‘Unbanked’ People in Terrorism-Prone Regions

The Security Council called upon Member States today to step up efforts to combat and criminalize the financing of terrorists and their activities, adopting a resolution on the issue before holding a day-long open debate that placed the spotlight on international cooperation, capacity-building and respect for international law.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2462 (2019) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council reaffirmed its resolution 1373 (2001) — adopted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States — which requires all States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts and to refrain from providing support to those involved in them.

By other terms of the resolution, all States shall — in a manner consistent with their obligations under international law — ensure that their laws and regulations make it possible to prosecute and penalize, as serious criminal offences, the provision or collection of funds, resources and services intended to be used for the benefit of terrorist organizations or individual terrorists.

It demands that Member States ensure that their counter-terrorism measures are in compliance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law. The resolution also calls upon Member States to conduct financial investigations into terrorism-related cases and to more effectively investigate and prosecute cases of terrorist financing, applying criminal sanctions as appropriate.

Briefing the Council, Marshall Billingslea, President of the Financial Action Task Force — an inter-governmental body that sets standards for combating money‑laundering and terrorist financing, said all States must understand the ways in which they may be vulnerable to terrorist financing. With risks extending beyond the banking and financial sectors, States must identify all potentially vulnerable sectors, he added. More broadly, Mr. Billingslea, who is also Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing in the United States Department of the Treasury, said Member States must also address fundamental issues that create environments conducive to terrorism and terrorist financing, such as corruption, weak governance and lack of respect for the rule of law.

Mercy Buku, a Kenyan expert in anti-money-laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, noted that new technologies, such as mobile money-transfer services can help lift people out of poverty, urging Member States not to stifle financial inclusion when implementing measures to combat terrorist financing. About 1.7 billion “unbanked” people today have no access to safe, reliable and convenient financial services, she said, noting that most of them are in Africa and South-East Asia — the regions most affected by terrorism. With mobile money‑transfer services being the single most effective contribution to global financial inclusion efforts, Governments must put regulations in place to facilitate it while ensuring that new technologies do not finance terrorism, she emphasized.

Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, noted that today’s resolution consolidates past Council texts while focusing on new types of terrorist financing. “It is only through a comprehensive and multidimensional approach that national and international financial systems and institutions can be properly safeguarded from terrorist abuse,” he said. He called upon Member States to make national experts available to United Nations programmes on countering terrorist financing, alongside significant financial support to build capacity.

Nearly 70 speakers took the floor in the ensuing debate, many emphasizing the need for Member States to fully implement Council resolutions and foster international and regional cooperation and coordination. They also expressed support for partnership with the private sector and strongly advocated respect for international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law, with the United Nations playing a capacity-building role.

France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity, warning against the belief that the fight against terrorism ended with the territorial defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). The international community must tackle evil at the root and isolate terrorists by drying up their sources of financing, he emphasized, pointing out that terrorists have learned how to exploit new technologies and transform their resources. While the challenge is great, “our determination must be equally great”, he stressed.

Indonesia’s Vice‑Minister for Foreign Affairs declared: “There is a clear indication that terrorist financing is shifting towards high-tech cyberactivities, including sophisticated online transactions.” Underlining the need to close gaps in the implementation of international instruments, he said the fight against terrorist financing must take place within a framework of strengthened international cooperation. “We have no other options.”

Australia’s representative said recent events in New Zealand are a painful reminder that the international community’s protective systems must continue to be flexible while evolving to address ever-changing threats. Like criminals, terrorists constantly adapt how and where they move their funds to circumvent safeguards that countries have put in place, she said, emphasizing that partnerships at all levels are critical to responding effectively to evolving threats.

The observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concern over the increased impact of counter-terrorism measures on impartial humanitarian action. “We understand the legitimate concerns of States and their need to take measures necessary to ensure security,” he said, while adding: “But, certain measures, most notably counter-terrorism legislation and sanctions, can criminalize and restrict humanitarian action.”

Israel’s representative said the Middle East has witnessed the destabilizing and destructive role of terror financing. “Hamas uses and abuses charitable organizations and humanitarian aid to fund its terror,” she noted, adding that it would take an entire day to outline how Iran uses sophisticated methods and evades sanctions to finance terrorism.

The representative of the United States stressed that the financing of groups like Hizbullah must be disrupted. That group uses an increasingly sophisticated array of tools and methods to finance activities that cannot be tackled in isolation, he said, adding that everyone must recognize Hizbullah and others for what they are — a global threat to security.

Iran’s representative said the fact that Da’esh and Al-Nusra Front in Syria are receiving funds demonstrates that existing standards are not working. Unless the countries that fail to implement those standards are held accountable, they will be emboldened to continue financing terrorists, he warned. “Indeed, counter‑terrorism activities are effective only when double standards and selective approaches are avoided an all States cooperate fully and responsibly,” he noted.

Turkey’s representative said the international community must “follow the money if we are to effectively prevent and combat terrorism”. Many terrorist organizations employ conventional transaction methods, including the hawala remittance system, while organizations like the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization benefit from illegal monetary activities under the guise of legal entities, he said. Consistency should be the guiding principle for an effective anti-terrorism-financing system, he emphasized.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative expressed concern over the growth of terrorist groups in Central Africa, including Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), pointing out that the region is also vulnerable to money-laundering and the financing of terrorism. With the spectrum of terrorist financing now including abuse of non‑profit organizations and the illicit exploitation of natural resources, among other sources, it is important to coordinate international efforts with those at the regional and national levels, he said.

South Africa’s Minister for Defence and Military Veterans said that, as a State on a continent affected by terrorism, her country recognizes the importance of curbing methods of financing that sustain terrorist organizations and the horrific violence they commit, including against peacekeepers. “We know full well that, unchecked, this threat has the potential to derail our collective efforts to bring about peace, security and sustainable development on the continent.”

India’s representative said that, while many Council resolutions call for regular reporting on the implementation of sanctions, a cursory look at publicly available information reveals that implementation reports have not been updated for more than a decade. No effective action has been taken on reported instances of non-compliance with sanctions measures, he added, emphasizing that the Council must do a better job of overseeing implementation of its resolutions. Terrorists will be ever more creative in finding ways to violate the rulebook and States that support them will continue to justify their inaction, as was done by a serial offender earlier today, he pointed out.

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines described money as the lifeblood of terrorism, saying that terrorist financing in his country involves a complex web of illicit flows, money-laundering, transnational organized crime and occasional remittances from overseas Filipinos. Noting the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the illegal drug trade, he said that his country is determined to protect the law-abiding from the lawless. “It won’t be pretty, but we will get them,” he added.

Also delivering statements today were speakers representing the United Kingdom, Poland, Kuwait, Germany, Russian Federation, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, China, Tajikistan, Romania, Estonia, Georgia, Slovenia, Syria, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Japan, Colombia, Lebanon, Egypt, Switzerland, Singapore, Liechtenstein, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Venezuela (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Qatar, Portugal, Canada, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Iraq, Lithuania, United Arab Emirates, Slovakia, Brazil, Bahrain, Ukraine, Netherlands, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Others speaking today were the Head of the European Union Delegation also spoke, as did the Permanent Observers for the Holy See and the African Union, and the Special Representative of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

The meeting began at 9:40 a.m. and ended at 5:11 p.m.

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