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U.S. circulates draft resolution on Azhar in Security Council

UN panel passes separate resolution on terror financing

March 29, 2019 12:08 am | Updated 12:08 am IST

Masood Azhar

Masood Azhar

The U.S. on Thursday took the lead in bringing sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations by circulating a draft resolution among Security Council members.

The move comes weeks after the 1267 Sanctions Committee failed to designate Azhar as a terrorist, after China placed a hold on a listing request that the U.S., the U.K., and France had brought before the Committee.

That listing request — the fourth such unsuccessful one in a decade — followed the February 14 suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.

The draft resolution, which The Hindu has seen, borrows wording from UNSC press statements.

It condemns, “in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir, which resulted in over 40 Indian paramilitary forces dead and dozens wounded on 14 February 2019, for which a member of JeM has claimed responsibility.”

Another resolution

In a related but separate development, the UNSC passed Resolution 2462 on terrorism financing.

The resolution stresses “the primary responsibility of Member States in countering terrorist acts and reiterating their obligation to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts as well as its call upon all States to become party to the international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols as soon as possible.”

The draft resolution on Massod Azhar identifies him as the founder of the JeM and seeks to impose sanctions on him. The draft resolution also says Azhar is associated with ISIL or al-Qaeda for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts” and “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material to” or otherwise supporting the JeM. The Jem itself was listed by the UNSC as a terror group in 2001.

China, reacting to the draft, accused the U.S. of bypassing the UNSC 1267 Committee.

‘China’s double speak’

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Mihrigul Tursun, an Uighur rights activist. “The world cannot afford China’s shameful hypocrisy toward Muslims. On one hand, China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN,” Mr. Pompeo had said.

“The Azhar issue is going mainstream in the Council’s counter-terrorism effort,” a UN diplomat told The Hindu . “The goal [of the draft resolution] is to get global understanding of the menace that Azhar is. No other objective. Each state has to weigh in on that goal,” the diplomat said.

Reacting to the U.S. move, government sources said, “We are aware that a draft has been initiated for consideration of Council members to list Masood Azhar in the sanctions regime as part of international community's efforts to fight against terrorism. Our views on Masood Azhar, the founder-leader of the JeM which has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks on our citizens including the heinous attack on our paramilitary force personnel in Pulwama on February 14th are well known. It will not be appropriate for us to comment at this stage on a process which is entirely within the parameters of informal discussion of the Council and its members.”

The draft resolution says the Security Council will remain “actively seized of the matter.”

Curbing funds

Resolution 2462 on terrorism financing highlights the obligation states have that prohibit them from making financing available for the benefit of terror organizations “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”

The resolution reminded all states that those who participate in the financing, planning, participating or perpetration of terrorist acts or in supporting terrorist acts have to be brought to justice — and that such acts are established as serious crimes as per domestic laws.

Significantly, the resolution also reaffirms that member states must ensure their counter-terrorism measures uphold international human rights and refugee law, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law and that a “failure to comply with these and other international obligations…is one of the factors contributing to increased radicalization to violence and fosters a sense of impunity.”

FATF norms

The resolution makes several references to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — the Paris-based multilateral body that seeks to combat money-laundering and terror-financing.

The resolution encourages, “Member States to actively cooperate with FATF, including by contributing to its monitoring of terrorist financing risks.”

The FATF had placed Pakistan on a grey list for not having done enough to stop the financing of terror-related activities on its soil. Pakistan risks being blacklisted if it does not take appropriate compliance action against a 27-point action plan, before the October 2019 session of the FATF. Being blacklisted could mean sanctions against Pakistan’s Central Bank and a downgrading of its financial institutions. This would pose significant financial difficulties for Pakistan, which is already in dire financial straits and seeking money for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The resolution also highlights the obligation states have that prohibit them from making financing available for the benefit of terror organizations “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”

Significantly, the UNSC makes reference to the terrorist designation process and “urges all States to participate actively in implementing and updating the ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List and to consider including, when submitting new listing requests, individuals and entities involved in the financing of terrorism,” as per the resolution.

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