Journal Issue

United Nations takes steps to eliminate international terrorism

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
January 2001
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Over the past several years, the United Nations (UN) has established 12 treaties and protocols on international terrorism. The first was signed in 1963 and the most recent, in 1999. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Secretary-General called on member states to make it their “first order of business” to sign and ratify all UN treaties and protocols on international terrorism and strive to forge an agreement on a comprehensive convention against international terrorism, which is currently being discussed in the UN.

Freezing terrorist funds

The Security Council adopted a far-reaching anti-terrorism resolution (1373) on September 28, 2001, which legally binds the 189 UN member states to seek out and prosecute terrorists and halt all funds that support them. The resolution calls for the financial assets of those who commit, attempt to commit, or facilitate terrorist acts to be frozen. States should refrain from providing support to people involved in terrorism and prohibit their nationals or people in their territories from making funds or services available to terrorists.

Member states should also bring to justice anyone who has participated in terrorism or the financing of terrorist acts and ensure that such acts are established as serious criminal offenses in domestic laws and punished accordingly. Moreover, states should collaborate in criminal investigations and proceedings relating to the financing or support of terrorist acts.

The Security Council noted with concern the close connection between international terrorism and transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, money laundering, and illegal movement of nuclear, chemical, biological, and other deadly materials. It emphasized the need to simultaneously enhance coordination of efforts on national, regional, and international levels to strengthen the global response.

Finally, the Security Council decided to establish a committee (consisting of its 15 members) to monitor implementation of the resolution with the assistance of appropriate expertise and called upon member states to report within 90 days on the steps they have taken to implement the resolution. The committee is to submit a work program within 30 days of the adoption of the resolution and consider the support it requires in consultation with the Secretary-General. The ranking U.K. diplomat at the UN, Jeremy Greenstock, was named chair of the committee.

Measures to combat terrorism

In a week-long debate (October 1-5) in the UN General Assembly, member states from across the globe strongly condemned the menace of international terrorism while pledging to take specific and resolute steps to eradicate it. Addressing the General Assembly before the debate, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani argued that this is not a time for further study or vague directives. The UN must hold accountable any country that supports or condones terrorism; otherwise, he added, it will fail in its primary mission as peacekeeper. The Secretary-General stressed that terrorism will be defeated only if the international community summons the will to unite and that the UN is uniquely positioned to serve as the forum for this coalition.

Several speakers called attention to the need to define terrorism in order to effectively combat it. Others called for objective criteria that would allow the international community to identify and combat terrorism.

Many speakers called for adherence to existing UN antiterrorism treaties as well as the elaboration of new legal instruments to fight the menace. It was noted that the international community must work to ensure the universal adoption and full implementation of the existing counterterrorism conventions, while redoubling its efforts to conclude negotiations on the draft comprehensive terrorism convention.

A number of speakers also stressed the importance of cooperation on the regional and subregional level in the fight against terrorism.

Looking forward

It has not yet been determined how work in the UN will be coordinated with efforts in other forums to maximize the total impact of new and existing instruments in the fight against terrorism in general and its financing in particular. The Group of Seven Action Plan to combat terrorist financing (see page 328), which pledges to implement Security Council Resolution 1373 and ratify the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Finan-cing of Terrorism, is a step in the right direction. The envisaged revision of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Financial Action Task Force recommendations (FATF 40 Recommendations) should contribute to making the international legal framework more operational.

Finally, the proposed collaboration between the IMF and the Financial Stability Forum in assessing the adequacy of supervision in offshore financial centers and the provision of technical assistance to strengthen their integrity could help close existing loopholes and sustain future progress.

Extended Fund Facility Arrangements are designed to rectify balance of payments problems that stem from structural problems.

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