ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Regime: Vote on Draft Resolution*
This afternoon (17 December), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution renewing and updating the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions regime. The draft text extends the mandates of the 1267/1988 Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (Monitoring Team) and the Office of the Ombudsperson for another 30 months until June 2024. It is an update to resolution 2368 of 20 July 2017, which included several measures that were intended to reflect and counter the changing threat posed by ISIL and Al-Qaida.
The US, the penholder on this issue, circulated a first draft of the resolution on 5 December. Following two rounds of virtual negotiations with all Council members, the text was placed under silence until Wednesday afternoon (15 December). Silence was then broken by the “A3 plus one” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), China, India, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, and Russia. After further bilateral negotiations, the penholder placed an amended draft under silence on Wednesday evening until yesterday (16 December). The text then passed silence and was put in blue.
Overall, the draft resolution in blue does not make sweeping changes to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL and Al-Qaida sanctions regime. It seems that Council members generally agreed that the regime functions effectively as currently formulated and that no major amendments were required. Discussions during the negotiations apparently centred on references to the effects of counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian activities, updates to the Office of the Ombudsperson and the assets freeze measures outlined in resolution 2368, and on a proposed reporting requirement on ISIL in Africa.
It seems that some Council members—including Ireland, Mexico and Norway— proposed including language on the effects of counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian activities. Other members, such as China, India and Russia, opposed these additions, leading them to break silence. As a compromise, some language proposed by Ireland, Mexico and Norway was not retained in the draft text in blue. One proposed operative paragraph, which was not retained, urged member states to take account of the potential effect of counter-terrorism measures on exclusively humanitarian activities, when designing and applying such measures. Another operative paragraph put forward by this group, which was retained in the final text in blue, demanded that member states ensure that all measures taken to implement the resolution comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law. The language in both proposed paragraphs was contained in resolution 2462 of 28 March 2019, which addressed terrorist financing.
In addition, Ireland, Mexico and Norway suggested adding a preambular paragraph, which was retained in the final draft text in blue, that stresses “that the measures imposed by this resolution are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for civilian populations”. This text draws on earlier Council resolutions, including resolution 2582 of 29 June on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
China and Russia apparently argued that the Council should not selectively adopt language from previous resolutions and use it in a different context. It seems that India suggested that this language establishes a humanitarian exemption and expressed concern that such an exemption could be misused. On the other hand, those members advocating for the inclusion of provisions on the sanctions’ humanitarian consequences expressed the position that this language does not constitute a humanitarian exemption.
It seems that the “A3 plus one” suggested including a humanitarian exemption to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL and Al-Qaida sanctions regime in the draft text, and broke silence when this proposal was not included. This proposed language was based on humanitarian exemptions that have been incorporated in other resolutions, including resolution 1916 of 19 March 2010. Although certain members expressed support for this proposal, this provision was ultimately not retained in the draft in blue.
The draft resolution in blue makes limited changes to the Office of the Ombudsperson, which is responsible for reviewing requests for removal from the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions list. The draft text calls on the Ombudsperson to provide a copy of their comprehensive reports regarding individual removal requests to member states that participate in the removal process. It seems that this amendment was suggested by the “A3 plus one”, which argued that it may encourage greater information-sharing and dialogue among member states during the removal process.
In his 23 July report to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, the outgoing Ombudsperson, Daniel Kipfer Fasciati, invited the Council to “address the inappropriate contractual arrangements and lack of institutional independence afforded to the Office [of the Ombudsperson]”. (Fasciati presented his resignation to the Secretary-General on 3 June, effective 17 December, citing similar concerns.) He also noted that the “Ombudsperson mechanism should be functional at all times” and suggested that the Council “minimise the negative impacts of any vacancy in the position by providing for an ad hoc mechanism in its forthcoming resolution”. In line with these recommendations, some Council members apparently proposed establishing the Office of the Ombudsperson as a distinct UN entity and appointing a deputy Ombudsperson to fulfil the role if the Ombudsperson is absent. These proposals did not garner sufficient support among Council members and were not included in the draft in blue.
Proposed changes to the regime’s asset freeze measures, including exemptions to those measures, were another issue during negotiations. It seems that the US initially suggested including an operative paragraph that required member states implementing these measures to provide a report regarding the status and disposition of frozen assets to the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions committee within six months, as well as a further operative paragraph that required states which are granted an asset freeze exemption to monitor the use and disbursement of relevant funds and take appropriate compliance action to make sure that such use falls within the “letter and spirit” of the exemption. It seems that several Council members questioned these proposals and raised concerns regarding the format of the reporting requirement. As a result, the draft in blue calls on states to include information regarding asset freeze measures in their regular reports to the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions committee and requests the UN secretariat to develop a format for reporting this information.
It seems that proposed language on engagement with civil society was also contentious during negotiations. Several Council members suggested adding text directing the 1267/1989/2253 Monitoring Team to collect information from or consult with civil society in certain circumstances. These provisions were opposed by China and Russia, which broke silence over the issue, and they were not included in the final draft.
Another area of discussion during the negotiations was on how to address ISIL’s growing threat in Africa. The Secretary-General’s 13th biannual strategic-level report on the threat posed by ISIL, which was published on 27 July, notes that ISIL affiliates have been able to spread their influence and increase their activities across national borders in several African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The report further suggests that some of the most effective ISIL affiliates are active in Africa and notes that the continent “is also where groups designated as terrorist by the Security Council have inflicted the largest number of casualties”.
In light of this trend, some Council members apparently sought to add a new reporting requirement regarding ISIL’s operations in Africa. It seems that the zero draft proposed by the penholder directed the 1267/1989/2253 Monitoring Team to submit a standalone report regarding ISIL activities in Africa to the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions committee. However, some Council members, including Russia, opposed this, arguing that it would overlap with the Monitoring Team’s existing reporting requirements. It seems that the “A3 plus one” also opposed a new report concerning ISIL in Africa. In an attempt to find compromise, a revised draft of the resolution instead directed the 1267/1989/2253 Monitoring Team to incorporate information regarding ISIL in Africa in its existing reports. It appears that this was also not acceptable to the “A3 plus one”, and the draft in blue does not contain any new reporting requirement on ISIL in Africa.
*Post-script: On 17 December, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2610, updating and renewing the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions regime. The resolution extended the mandates of the 1267/1988 Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (Monitoring Team) and the Office of the Ombudsperson for another 30 months, until June 2024.