United Nations Actions against International Terrorism - Can it become more effective?


  • Roger Roffey

Publish date: 2011-05-10

Report number: FOI-R--3176--SE

Pages: 85

Written in: English


  • United Nations
  • Security Council
  • General Assembly
  • Terrorism
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
  • Counter-Terrorism Committee CTC
  • Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate CTED
  • Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force CTITF
  • 1540 Committee
  • Sanctions committee
  • WMD.


Since the terrorist attacks 2001 on the United States the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly have become more active in preventing international terrorism. One significant achievement has been the establishment of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. Over the past five years, the United Nations has expanded its counter-terrorism activities, increased inter-agency coordination and enhanced partnerships with a wide range of international and regional organizations. The report reviews the work being done in the framework of the United Nations to combat international terrorism. A major achievement has been the thirteen universal conventions against international terrorism that have been elaborated relating to specific terrorist activities. Another achievement was the United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter to prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). This required states to adopt and enforce appropriate and effective laws and measures to prevent non-state actors from acquiring and manufacturing WMD. There is though unfortunately still no sign in the short term that the United Nations will be able to agree on the Draft Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism or a definition of the term terrorism. The approach of the United Nations to counter terrorism efforts is that they must be comprehensive as the root causes of terrorism are complex involving many aspects where no single one dominates. There also seems to be limited or no correlation between poverty, inequality and unemployment and the incidence of terrorism. The question of radicalisation and extremism leading to terrorism is also being addressed. Joint initiatives with Member States in many regions - including the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and South and Central Asia - have shown that there is much that can and should be done. Capacitybuilding is a long-term undertaking towards the fight against terrorism, especially in weak states. There is a need for better and more efficiently coordinated technical assistance to developing states. The United Nations counter-terrorism should now emphasize the preventive and broad aspects of the counter-terrorism vision, promote human rights in this regard, and deepen partnerships with stakeholders. How should the future role of the Counter Terrorism Committee evolve and perhaps become an independent organisation or should it stay as it is now taking into account the composition of the Counter- Terrorism Implementation Task Force. Sweden and the European Union should propose concrete initiatives for how to improve and increase the effectiveness of United Nations counter-terrorism work.