Post: An Impossible Resolution?

On the 24th September 2014 President Barack Obama chaired a high-level summit meeting of the United Nations Security Council. The 15-member body gathered to discuss the growing number of foreign fighters travelling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), ANF (Al-Nusrah Front) and other groups associated with Al Qaeda.

Some 50 speakers contributed to the debate, mostly repeating the usual mantra that ‘the world’ must act to combat this evil monster that is spreading like cancer. It was also noticeable that several of the European and Western leaders referred to the danger to ‘our’ country or ‘our’ nation. This sounded very much as if the United States, along with the United Kingdom and France had suddenly woken up to the danger despite the fact that thousands have already suffered at the hands of ISIL and others. Could it be that the shock of seeing the execution of Westerners forced them to the table? If so, is this not a double standard?

A final resolution was passed stating that Member States shall “prevent and suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of individuals who travel to a State other than their State of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, and the financing of their travel and of their activities…”

This is an extremely tall order for just one country to achieve, let alone all 15, some of whom would simply not have the resources for enforcement. And to be even more cynical, considering the track record of some member states, they may not all have the same will or commitment to the resolution.

However, there also appears to be a fundamental problem. Unless there is some very clear, explicit and unambiguous small print accompanying the text, we are all left with the question ‘how do we define terrorism or terrorist acts’? I wonder if all 15 members of the Security Council would agree to the same definition?