The threat posed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) might become a growing challenge to international peace and security as the military operations against the group continued to make progress, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs told the Security Council today.
Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman, presenting the third report of the Secretary-General “the threat posed by ISIL to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat” (document S/2016/830), said the group and its affiliates continued to experience significant military setbacks, which had undermined their ability to hold territory, generate assets and maintain “governmental structures”. However, the military pressure had resulted in the return home of greater numbers of foreign terrorist fighters, as well as the emergence of increasingly complex and nearly simultaneous attacks in different countries. The group also continued to assert itself in cyberspace.
He said ISIL’s propaganda had re-energized pre-existing terrorist networks in South-East Asia. And even though it had intensified its attacks in Yemen, ISIL had not yet managed to gain significant local support. Its new cells had emerged in Somalia, but they had faced strong resistance from Al-Shabaab. While several Member States had addressed the potential threat posed by returnees through a broad range of criminal justice, administrative and rehabilitation and reintegration measures, remaining challenges included generating and converting intelligence information into admissible evidence. Progress in developing and implementing rehabilitation and reintegration strategies remained more limited.
The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Task Force had further developed a capacity-building implementation plan for countering the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, he continued, going on to describe the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Despite international efforts, international counter-terrorism measures were still not up to the level of the danger, he noted. Military, security and law enforcement measures must be complemented by preventive actions to address the drivers of violent extremism. Underscoring the importance of political will in that regard, he asked the Council to consider the need to mobilize the necessary financial and technical resources to meet the growing counter-terrorism demands.
Following the briefing, Uruguay’s representative said that, despite encouraging developments, the ability of Da’esh to adapt and spread to new areas was of grave concern. “We must ask ourselves: Why we are failing?”, he said, noting that, among other problems, countries could not always play their part because they lacked resources, technical capacity or political will. It was the duty of all Member States to act in solidarity to fight violent extremism, with the United Nations as the main link between Member States and international, as well as regional, organizations, he stressed.
The meeting began at 3:38 p.m. and was ended at 3:53 p.m