Ministry Statements & Speeches:
Since my last briefing to the Security Council in December, the Council passed resolution 2253. This resolution refocussed the work of the 1267 Sanctions Committee on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) and its affiliates, and on limiting the financing of these groups. Since then, the Monitoring Team of the Committee tasked with keeping us apprised of the threat posed by ISIL, Al-Qaida and affiliates has provided the Committee with several updates. In February, the Monitoring Team briefed the 1267 and 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committees on the foreign terrorist fighter threat, and recently briefed the 1267 Committee on the expansion of ISIL beyond Iraq and Syria. I will share some of the Team’s findings today.
The threat posed by ISIL has shifted somewhat since December. ISIL core in Iraq and Syria is under pressure. It has lost control of some territory. And the destruction of significant parts of its oil infrastructure has led to a drop in internal revenue generation. But as a response to this, we have seen ISIL looking to increase revenue from other streams. This includes internal taxation, smuggling in antiquities and potentially kidnap for ransom. ISIL is also not short of arms and fighters. Although recent reports indicate that the flow of recruits to ISIL is slowing, estimates suggest that upwards of 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters have travelled to Iraq and Syria to date.
As reported by the Monitoring Team, in response to this pressure on its core, ISIL’s centre of gravity is shifting. The threat is expanding geographically as ISIL affiliates spring up around the world. And, as pressure on ISIL core increases, foreign terrorist fighters are also seeking to return home. These developments pose both a challenge and an opportunity for improving the impact and effectiveness of the 1267 sanctions regime.
While some foreign terrorist fighters return from conflict zones disillusioned by what they have experienced, others return radicalised, battle-hardened and well-networked. Such fighters pose a real risk to the wider international community. Member States from all regions are affected. These fighters can exploit networks, including with local Al-Qaida affiliates, to conduct terror attacks. Their capacity to initiate complex attacks at great speed is already becoming a reality.
Mr President, it is also difficult to detect the travel of foreign terrorist fighters. Many now use broken travel routes to and from conflict zones, making it much harder to track them. Whereas previously they may have travelled directly from their state of residence to a neighbouring country of the conflict zone, they are now taking multiple, indirect routes, often using more than one passport. If we are to get on top of this threat, it is essential that Member States implement the steps called for in resolutions 2170 and 2178, and share information to enable better detection and disruption of travel by foreign terrorist fighters.
ISIL affiliates in Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen are steadily gaining a foothold and becoming increasingly important to the survival of ISIL. As pressure increases on ISIL core in Iraq and Syria, it is expected ISIL will look to move funds to these affiliates, including through the use of informal money transfers. It is crucial, therefore, that Member States, particularly those neighbouring Iraq and Syria, are vigilant in implementing the 1267 regime.
This movement of funds and fighters outside of ISIL-controlled territory provides an opportunity for Member States to detect and prevent the wider spread of ISIL. This is where the sanctions measures can have the most impact. When effectively targeted and implemented, the sanctions can place pressure on ISIL and its affiliates, preventing the dispersal of funds and disrupting further attacks on civilian populations. The measures for the freezing of assets are one area the sanctions can really bite.
But for this to happen, the Committee needs targeted designations of individuals involved in the generation and movement of assets. Member States with information about these individuals and entities have an important role to play in putting forward new listing requests, as encouraged in resolution 2253.
It is also crucial Member States engage with and provide updated information to the Monitoring Team and the 1267 Committee on the nature of the threat, listed individuals and entities, and the status of their implementation and enforcement of sanctions measures. This information is fundamental to the operation of the regime. The Council and international community can only target their response effectively if they have up-to-date information. I encourage those Member States who have not done so to submit their implementation reports called for in paragraph 36 of resolution 2253.
The Committee is also playing its part in assisting Member States’ engagement with the sanctions regime. The Committee already held one open briefing for interested Member States last month and plans to hold another two such open briefings before the end of this year. A one-page outline is available in the chamber today providing an overview of the key upcoming dates and deadlines for 1267 Committee engagement. We are also in the process of updating the Committee’s guidelines with the aim of improving the regime’s efficiency and effectiveness. These guidelines were last updated in 2013. It is important that Committee processes support the efficient and effective operation of the regime. As the Monitoring Team keeps the Committee apprised of the evolving threat posed by ISIL, Al-Qaida and their affiliates, the Committee will also work closely with key actors including the other relevant Security Council sanctions committees. I thank you.