UN counter-terrorism measures must adapt to evolving threat: Security Council told

The threat posed by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and the Taliban is evolving and United Nations efforts to combat the scourge must keep up to date through effective counter-measures such as sanctions and reinforced regional cooperation to prevent the smuggling of materials for weapons of mass destruction, the Security Council was told.
The 15-member body was briefed in a day-long open session by the heads of the three counter-terrorism committees it has set up over the past 10 years, with all three officials calling for regional cooperation and professional workshops that reinforce international collaboration.
“Ten years after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1267, the threat posed by Al-Qaida and the Taliban persists, both worldwide and especially in South Asia,” said Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, chairman of the 1267 (1999) Committee on sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the two groups.
“At the same time, over the years this threat has evolved considerably and we must ensure that the existing sanctions regime against Al-Qaida and the Taliban remains a relevant and effective tool in countering terrorism,” he added, noting that his committee is reviewing all entries to ensure that the sanctions list “remains dynamic and accurately reflects the current threat.” At present there are 504 entries.
At a separate news conference, the Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), Mike Smith, highlighted the work being done in South Asia, a region hit by frequent terrorist attacks, citing a recent three-day professional UN workshop for police and prosecutors from the region.
“It is a region that has suffered a lot from terrorism,” he said. “One of the things we’ve noted as we’ve travelled around the world is the importance of regional cooperation to deal with terrorism because it’s kind of axiomatic when you think about it that most terrorists operate across borders, they seek refuge in other places, neighbouring countries, they very often prepare themselves there, materials are brought across borders, recruits are brought across borders,” he said.
“And we were very aware that actually South Asia is an area where the amount of regional cooperation has been rather limited and we thought that we needed to do something to start building habits of cooperation between the countries…
“So we thought that if at a political level we couldn’t get more cooperation and interaction, we might try to start at a more working level,” he added of the workshop that brought together professionals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.
“After three days were pretty gratified to see the way these professionals were interacting with each other in a pretty positive way and a very professional way and they all thought they got something out of it,” he said.
“We’re not saying this is an enormous breakthrough, I’m not saying it’s that, but it’s a small but significant first step at a working level in building cooperation, and it’s something that the UN can do….The truth is I don’t think there’s anybody else who could have done it,” he added, noting that most counter-terrorism is done on a bilateral basis.
Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) on combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors, highlighted his group’s “outreach activities,” including regional workshops worldwide.
“The focus of the meetings ranged from broad issues of proliferation threats to more specific threats of nuclear, chemical or biological terrorism, from challenges of proliferation financing to export controls and prevention of illicit trafficking, from the implementation of relevant international instruments by domestic legislation to the facilitation of assistance for capacity building,” he told the Council.
Ambassador Ranko Vilovic of Croatia, Chairman of the 1373 (2001) Committee, set up to monitor implementation of the wide-ranging counter-terrorism resolution adopted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, also told the Council his Committee has been intensifying its work with international, regional and sub-regional organizations to enhance cooperation, information-sharing and exchanges of expertise.
The Committee has finalized the analysis and adoption of the preliminary implementation assessments of all but one of the 192 UN Member States, with the last remaining one expected to be adopted in the near future.
“Terrorism remains one of the major threats to international peace and security, and the Committee is a crucial instrument of the international community in its efforts to address this scourge,” he said.
Over 30 participants were scheduled to speak during the debate.