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UN 101

UN non-action to combat terrorism

In the wake of 9/11, with great fanfare, the UN Security Council took action to become a leader in "the war against terrorism." It adopted Resolution 1373 (2001) on September 28, 2001. The resolution created the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) which was mandated to become the lead UN agent. The Committee is composed of the members of the Security Council, who take off one hat and don another when meetings are convened.

Subsequent resolutions and restructuring have resulted in a number of bureacratic additions: 1. the CTC Executive Directorate (CTED); 2. the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (2005), renamed the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact Task Force in 2018, comprised of dozens of "international entities which by virtue of their work have a stake in multilateral counter-terrorism efforts," known as the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact Entities; 3. the Counter-Terrorism Centre (2005); 4. the Office of Counter-Terrorism (2017).

Since September 28, 2001 the CTC has never named a single terrorist, terrorist organization or state sponsor of terrorism.

On the contrary, though Syria is one of four state sponsors of terrorism designated by the U.S. State Department in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, it was a member of the CTC for two years, from January 2002 to December 2003.

The four state sponsors of terrorism Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Sudan and Syria have written reports to the CTC about their compliance with Security Council Resolution 1373. In the absence of any UN definition of terrorism, all of these states have readily proclaimed that they are engaged in a vigorous campaign to combat terrorism.

From 2001-2006 the CTC elicited over 700 reports from UN member states on their counter-terrorism activities. States, however, complained about the reporting burden. The questions and comments of the CTC's hired experts which were made on the state reports were kept confidential.

In October 2006, the CTC introduced a procedure called the "Preliminary Implementation Assessments". The CTC, with input from the state concerned, now drafts its own reports on the implementation of counter-terrorism measures on all UN members and sends them to each state for comment. Since November 2008, the Committee approved the initial assessments of all 193 Member States and 121 States have entered "the second stocktaking cycle."

None of the Preliminary Implementation Assessments (PIA's) have been made public.

In 2013, the PIA system was replaced with a program called a "DIS" or detailed implementation survey. The DIS is a series of yes/no questions, the idea being that it allows less open-ended and vague responses and a clearer assessment of those responses. The UN describes the DIS this way: "The DIS consists of a set of questions concerning counter-terrorism measures that States should put in place for the effective implementation of resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005)...Some questions are aimed specifically at assessing Member States' implementation of the measures contemplated by the two resolutions; others seek to obtain clarification of States' overall counter-terrorism capacities and strategies."

The UN is at pains to describe the DIS as a process that avoids any public identification of specific terrorist threats: "Shortfalls identified in the DIS are not intended to imply failure by a State to comply with its obligations."

The completed Detailed Implementation Surveys (DIS) will not be made public.

The UN also says that the DIS will be a working document of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate - that is, not a public document - and that it will contain no judgments. It "will be circulated for information only" and "is shared only with the State concerned." Furthermore, every six months, the Committee will be given "a list of late or non-reporting Member States" - but that list will not be made public.

The list of states failing to answer the Detailed Implementation Surveys (DIS) will not be made public.

The CTC has also introduced an "Overview of Implementation Assessment (OIA)." Data collected via the DIS process will be used merely to identify and analyze "general trends regarding the implementation of resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005)." The OIA will not be put on the UN website, but will be available to other Member States "upon request." However, even that step was only taken after the UN spelled out to CTC members: "I can assure you that the data collected will not be used in any way to name and shame Member States (i.e. in other words this is not a report card)."

The Overview of Implementation Assessment (OIA's) of general trends will only be available to other Member States upon request but will "not be a report card" or "name and shame."

The CTC has been empowered to conduct country visits -- with the consent of the state concerned. The countries selected for a visit have to first be approved by the CTC (Security Council). As of September 28, 2017, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) has conducted some "133 country visits to 96 Member States" since 2005 and claims to transparency notwithstanding has never made the reports of those visits public either.

There are at least four types of visits and visit reports: (i) "comprehensive"; (ii) "focused or regional", (iii) "follow-up", or (iv) "advocacy".

Up until December 10, 2019, it is publicly known that the CTED has visited the following 83 countries (23 of the countries listed below were visited a second time, and 5 were visited a third time). The kind of visit is generally not identified: The identities of more than 20 other states visited is not publicly available..

No reports on any visits have been made available to the public.

And the central state sponsors of terrorism are not known to have been visited.

The Security Council produces two lists of all individuals and entities subject to sanctions imposed by the Council for terrorism-related activities: one entitled the "ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List" (that also includes Boko Haram and the Taliban outside Afghanistan), and one entitled "1988 (2011) Sanctions List," also known as the Afghanistan/Taliban sanctions list for Taliban inside Afghanistan. These lists can be compared to the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Omitted from the UN list, for instance, are the terrorists whose preferred targets are Jews in Israel: Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF), Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB), Hamas, and Hizbollah.

See also: No UN definition of terrorism

State Reports - Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001)

Democratic People's Republic of Korea