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Security Council Moves Against Foreign Terrorist Fighters


Delegates stand during a moment of silence in honor of victims of terrorism at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council regarding the threat of foreign terrorist fighters during the 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014.

President Barack Obama has emphasized that the confrontation with terror organizations such as ISIL must be seen for what it is: a fight between murderous extremists and the world.

President Barack Obama has emphasized that the confrontation with terror organizations such as ISIL must be seen for what it is: a fight between murderous extremists and the world.

On September 24, the United Nations Security Council acknowledged the validity of that emphasis when it unanimously adopted Resolution 2178, drafted by the United States. The resolution imposes new obligations on states to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from crossing their borders and to have laws criminalizing such fighters and those who support and finance them.

The “perpetration, planning, or preparation of or participation in, terrorist acts, or the providing or receiving of terrorist training” are also defined as criminal. In addition, the resolution urges member states to strengthen cooperation with one another, and calls on all, while confronting the problem of foreign terrorist fighters, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. It also underscores the centrality of countering violent extremism to prevent and respond to radicalization to violence.

As an indication of the global consensus on foreign terrorist fighters, Resolution 2178 had 104 co-sponsors. It was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which means it is binding. The resolution targets all foreign terrorist fighters travelling anywhere in the world, but its drafting and adoption have been spurred by the brutality of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, otherwise known as ISIL.

President Obama presided over the Security Council meeting – only the sixth time in 70 years that such a meeting occurred at the head-of-state level, demonstrating the urgency of the threat posed by terrorists crossing borders and unleashing unspeakable violence.

President Obama called the approval of the resolution “historic.” He stressed, however, that “words spoken here today must be matched and translated into …concrete action within nations and between them, not just in the days ahead but for years to come.” Noting that this challenge cannot be met by one nation alone, he pledged that “all…committed to this urgent work will find a strong and steady partner in the United States of America."

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