Security Council Tightens Screws on Terror Financing

The Security Council unanimously passed a new resolution intended to crack down on the financing of terrorist groups. Resolution 2462, approved on Thursday, requires states to take concrete steps that would make it more difficult for terrorist groups to fund their operations.

In a time in which the Security Council remains divided on some key issues around the world, this resolution demonstrates that combating terrorism is something that the entire council can work together to productively address.

This move by the Security Council is the latest iteration of its evolving response to terrorism.

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, the Security Council passed a sweeping resolution, binding under international law, to compel states to take concrete actions against terrorist groups. The resolution passed less than two weeks after the attacks and to this day is one of the most radical actions ever taken by the Security Council.

Security Council Resolution 1373 called on states to freeze terrorist financing, pass anti-terrorism laws, prevent suspected terrorists from traveling across international borders, and ordered that asylum seekers be screened for possible terrorist ties. It did this all under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, thereby making these dictates binding under international law. This was the first time the Security Council forced all UN member states to revise national laws to comply with an international standard. (Usually, that is done through the treaty process. Not top down from the Security Council–but such was the sense of urgency at the time.)  The resolution also created a UN body called the Counter Terrorism Committee to monitor and support its implementation.

As the threats from terrorism evolved in the subsequent years, the Security Council would update and revise its approach to fighting terrorism.

In 2014, under the leadership of the Obama administration, the Security Council sought to expand common efforts to disrupt the travel and funding of foreign terrorist fights. At the time, this included hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of people from around the world who flocked to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. Another resolution three years later provided guidance and compelled countries to take action against foreign terrorist fighters after they returned to their home country. In March 2017, another resolution highlighted the links between the illicit trade in cultural artifacts and the financing of terrorism, which was a key source of funding for ISIS and other terror groups.

The resolution passed on Thursday seeks to further strengthen global cooperation in disrupting the financing of terrorist groups.

Resolution 2462, drafted by France, tightens requirements on states to criminalize the provision of financial support for terrorist groups and individual terrorists. It also highlights the need for governments to work with private financial institutions to improve the traceability around financial transactions and calls on states to create financial intelligence units capable of doing the kind of forensic accounting that can disrupt terrorist financing.

From the Indo-Asian News Service 

It also expresses concern at the continuing use by terrorists and their supporters of information and communications technologies, in particular the internet, to facilitate terrorist acts, as well as inciting, recruiting, funding, or planning terrorist acts.

Therefore, the resolution calls upon all countries to enhance the traceability and transparency of financial transactions, including assessing and addressing potential risks associated with virtual assets and as appropriate, the risks of new financial instruments, including but not limited to crowd-funding platforms.

It also encourages member states to apply risk-based anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations to virtual asset service providers, and to identify effective systems to conduct risk-based monitoring or supervision of virtual asset service providers.

This move by the Security Council demonstrates that on some issues, particularly terrorism, the Security Council can be a valuable forum for codifying global cooperation in the face of threats to international peace and security.