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United Nations: Security Council Resolution on Terrorism in France

(Nov. 24, 2015) On November 20, 2015, in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in France, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution No. 2249/2015, in which it condemned the terrorist attacks of November 2015 in France committed by ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Syria (ISIL or ISIS)), also known as Da’esh. (Press Release, United Nations, Security Council “Unequivocally” Condemns ISIL Terrorist Attacks, Unanimously Adopting Text that Determines Extremist Group Poses “Unprecedented” Threat (Nov. 20, 2015).)

The Resolution reiterated that unless a political solution is found for the Syrian conflict, the situation will deteriorate. (Id.)

The Resolution:

  • condemns the November 2015 events in France as well as previous terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL that occurred on June 26, 2015, in Sousse (Tunisia), on October 10, in Ankara, on October 31 over Sinaï, on November 12 in Beirut, and all other attacks committed by ISIL, such as hostage-taking and killing, and states that it considers all these terrorist acts a threat to peace and security;
  • states that any action against ISIL must be in compliance with the U.N. Charter, international humanitarian law, and human rights law;
  • reaffirms that those who have committed such terrorist acts, or violations of human rights or humanitarian law, must be held accountable;
  • calls on the U.N. Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks committed in the territory under the control of ISIL in Syria and Iraq by ISIL or other terrorist groups or businesses associated with Al Qaeda, or by other terrorist groups included on the U.N. Sanctions List; and
  • urges the Member States to increase their efforts to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from going to Syria and Iraq and to prevent the financing of terrorism. (Id.)

The U.N. Sanctions List includes all the names of individuals and companies that are subject to sanctions imposed by the Security Council. (Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List (last updated Nov. 12, 2015) U.N. website.)

Following the vote in the UNSC, the representative of France stated that the Security Council, through the adoption of this resolution, “unanimously recognized the exceptional nature of the threat, and had called on all Member States to eradicate Da’esh sanctuaries and push back its ideology.” He also emphasized that any collective action against ISIL would be based on article 51 of the U.N. Charter on the right to self-defense and that France had also requested and obtained the activation of the mutual solidarity clause of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. (Id.)

Article 51 contains the right to self-defense by individual or collective action if an armed attack occurs in the territory of a Member State. (Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice, art. 51 (1945) UNITED NATIONS TREATY COLLECTION.) The EU mutual solidarity clause states that if a Member State is the victim of a terrorist attack or of a natural or man-made disaster, the EU and its Member States are required to act jointly in a spirit of solidarity to assist that Member State following a request made by its political authorities. In such a case, the EU is required to mobilize all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States, for the purpose of : (a) preventing the terrorist threat in the territory of the Member States; and (b) protecting democratic institutions and the civilian population from any terrorist attack. (Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, art. 222, ¶ 1 (2012) O.J. (C 326) 47, EUR-LEX.)

The Representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N. expressed support for France and added that Russia agrees with the language included in the Resolution to the effect that the basis for the fight against ISIL must be the U.N. Charter. (Id.) The Representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of his country and not as the President of the Security Council, emphasized that “this resolution is a powerful, international recognition of the threat ISIL poses,” and that “this resolution reminds us that measures must be implemented if the international response is to succeed.” (Security Council “Unequivocally” Condemns ISIL Terrorist Attacks, Unanimously Adopting Text that Determines Extremist Group Poses “Unprecedented” Threat, supra.)