The United Nations Framework To Combat Terrorist Financing

For most countries, obligations to counter terrorist financing are provided in the existing United Nations framework.

United Nations Framework To Combat Terrorist Financing

With the increase of terrorist threats around the world the last few decades and the simultaneous changes to terrorist financing typologies, the UN Security Council adopted further resolutions, mainly under Chapter VII, to address emerging routes of terrorist financing. The new resolutions also aim to address the link between terrorists and organized crime groups in addition to combating funds raised through kidnapping for ransom. In Resolution 2462 (2019), the UN Security Council raised concern on terrorist financing. This is especially concerning the flow of funds to terrorists and the need to defeat all forms of terrorist financing. 

In 2020, the Global Program on Detecting, Preventing, and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CTF Program) was launched. Its aim was to boost the efforts of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office (UNOCT) and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) by countering the terrorist financing as authorized by the Security Council through resolutions 1373 (2001) and 2462 (2019) and by the General Assembly’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Under this program, the UN Counter-Terrorism Office and UN Counter-Terrorism Centre are mandated to support Member States on various CTF issues in a coordinated, results-oriented, and sequential manner. 

United Nations Framework

Program Mandate 

There are various occasions that the UN Security Council has addressed the issue of CTF. They include Resolution 2133 (2014) that has provisions for kidnapping and hostage-taking by terrorists, Resolution 2178 (2014) on suppressing financing, flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and any other support to terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, Resolutions 2195 (2014) on preventing terrorist from profiting from transnational organized crime, and Resolution 2199 (2015) that seeks to prevent terrorists syndicate in Syria and Iraq from benefiting from trade in antiquities, hostages and oil, and getting donations. 

The United Nations Security Council in its Resolution 2253 (2015) extended and reinforced its al-Qaeda sanctions agenda to include focusing on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or ISIL) and outlining the efforts to dismantle its support channels and funding. The advancement of the threat posed by ISIL is further captured in Resolution 2331 (2016) whose objective is to stop terrorist financing that is a derivative of acts of gender-based violence and sexual violence including human trafficking. Resolution 2347 (2017) aims to prevent and counter the illicit trafficking and trade of cultural property sourced from areas where there is armed conflict, especially among terrorist groups, and including the prohibition of cross-border trade of such items.

Finally, Resolution 2462 (2019), a landmark resolution, Member States were called to attend to the urgent issue of suppressing terrorist financing. This resolution was a key step to the efforts of the international community to combat terrorist financing by merging the existing obligations while also expanding to include emerging issues in terrorist financing and addressing key concerns related to the negative effects of counterterrorism measures on humanitarian programming while highlighting the significance of consolidating international collaboration to guarantee the exchange of relevant financial intelligence.

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy also emphasizes the importance of counter the financing of terrorism. In its biennial review resolutions, it encourages the various UN bodies to continue assisting Member States with the implementation of their international obligations to counter the financing of terrorism.

Program Activities 

United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) prepares and schedules capacity-building workshops that cover diverse topics for the interested Member States with the objective of the workshops to improve the capacity of the designate national authorities in managing and counter terrorist financing

UNCCT works closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) to deliver capacity-building support of counter terrorist financing. 

Use of Technology 

Technology has also played a significant role in the international efforts to CTF. The CTF Program, for example, is developing “goFintel” software in partnership with the Office of Information and Communication Technology. The software will help Member States cooperate and correctly target any financial dealings that could potentially be used to fund terrorism. 

Program’s Impact 

UNCCT played an instrumental role in developing the Counter-Financing of Terrorism Regional Operational Plan for the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). Both plans were adopted successfully by the jurisdictions under ESAAMLG. 

In 2018 and 2019, UNCCT also assisted Tunisia adopt and implement a decree that allowed the country to designate individuals and groups who are linked to terrorism.

Since 2018, UNCCT has organized thirty capacity-building workshops on CTF and has engaged stakeholders from over thirty countries and two thousand officials. Among the countries that have benefited from the regional and capacity-building workshops include Mongolia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Bangladesh, and the eighteen member jurisdictions of the ESAAMLG.

Final Thoughts

Terrorist organizations require funds to operate and carry out terrorist acts. Terrorist financing refers to the means and methods used by terrorist organizations to fund their operations. This money can come from legitimate sources, such as business profits and charitable donations. Terrorist organizations can also raise funds through illegal activities such as trafficking in weapons, drugs, or people, or kidnapping for ransom.

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