UNSC Resolution 2322 on International Cooperation Against Terrorism

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has recently adopted an unanimous resolution {Resolution 2322} aimed at enhancing the legal and judicial cooperation against terrorism amongst the countries. It has identified five major issues and calls for increased cooperation on these. These include

  • Mutual legal assistance and extradition
  • Issue of foreign terrorist fighters and returnees
  • Terror finance
  • Role of IT in fight against terror
  • Role of multilateral agencies such as UNDOC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) and INTERPOL in preventing terrorist activities.

Here is a brief understanding about each of the above five issues.

Mutual legal assistance and extradition

Many countries around the world have entered into bilateral or multilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT). Such treaties are basically aimed at purpose of gathering and exchanging information related to cross border terrorism and organized crime. The mutual assistance may be in the form of people, places and things. Many of these treaties need to be updated because now a days, there is a lot of exchange in the form of digital data and treaties may not have adequate provisions towards this. Thus, the resolution 2322 says that: –

  • the countries should review and update their laws so as to adjust to various changes.
  • The bilateral and multilateral treaties should be revised and simplified in such a way that their effectiveness is increased.

Further, it asks for designating national nodal authorities for legal assistance and extradition; appointment of laisioning officers; police-to-police cooperation and joint investigations.

It also emphasizes that the updated counter-terrorism laws are compliant with international human rights and humanitarian laws.

Issue of foreign terrorist fighters and returnees

In the wake of rise of ISIS, the resolution highlights the importance of global cooperation in blocking the flow of foreign terrorists / fighters towards  conflict zones and ensuring that those who return are brought under due judicial proceedings. Thus, the resolution urges the countries to:

  • share available information (including biometric data) about the foreign terrorist fighters bilaterally as well as with multilateral screening databases. Currently, such data is mostly shared on bilateral basis.
  • easing the transfer of criminal proceedings from court of one country to those countries where terrorism act took place.

 Terror finance

The resolution says that the countries should make financing of terrorism as a serious criminal offense in their local laws. They should cooperate more in extraditing and prosecuting the people who finance terror activities directly or indirectly. The countries should also impose financial sanctions on such persons and groups.

Role of IT in fight against terror

The resolution says that countries should promote use of electronic communication including internet for mutual cooperation and broaden the scope of  digital data to handle terror cases.

Coordination among agencies concerned

Closer cooperation with UNDOC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization). It also proposes the integration of the INTERPOL’s “I-24/7” police information network beyond National Central Bureaus to other law enforcement entities such as customs and police stations.

Analysis: What  is the significance of this resolution?

If we talk about international cooperation on terrorism, we find a grim scenario, because the world has not been able to define so far who is a terrorist. Thus, the recent resolution is also non-material as far as solving the basic puzzle around terrorism is concerned. However, it has tried to address some of the practical problems that arise between sovereigns when dealing with the cases which have cross border ramifications.

What  is the significance of this resolution?

As discussed above, the resolution does not seek to solve “who is terrorist” dilemma but seeks that the countries increase cooperation between their central authorities, police forces, judiciary and agencies managing database. This is significant in the following ways:

Firstly, many of the recent terror attacks have suspects and witnesses spread across more than one country. For example, perpetrators of 26/11 at Mumbai were from Pakistan; November 2015 Paris attacks were done by ISIS and so on. The legal and judicial cooperation becomes a major challenge as far as prosecution of international terrorists is concerned. The resolution calls for stronger co-operation by many ways for example, digital data can be used in courts; the international databases can be more systematically used etc.

Secondly, the lack of clear evidence or unfeasibility of collecting evidence has led to either no prosecution or prosecution of wrong persons. A systematic use of international databases, for instance, INTERPOL database on wanted persons, as proposed in the resolution, would be helpful in preventing terrorists from entering/travel from the territory of one State to another. Thirdly, any such resolution creates further pressure on countries such as Pakistan which are known for state sponsored terrorism.

In summary, the resolution can be viewed as the first step to overcome the practical challenges associated with the prosecution of terrorists in their country of origin or elsewhere, for their criminal activities in a foreign country.

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