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On September 24, 2014, the United Nations Security Council, expressing grave concern about the increasing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and by individuals who are recruited by the so-called Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS); the Al-Nusrah Front; and other cells, unanimously adopted Resolution No. 2178 of 2014 condemning such groups and individuals.[1] The Resolution was adopted under chapter VII of the UN Charter and is binding on the Member States.  However, the Resolution is not self-executing and requires UN Members to take measures domestically or internationally through bilateral or multilateral agreements to deal with the issues raised by foreign fighters.[2]

Resolution 2178/2014 requires that the UN Member States take action to prevent and suppress “the recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality” with the intent to commit, plan, or participate in terrorist acts or to be trained as terrorists, as well as the financing of their travel and other activities.[3]

A.  Prosecution and Punishment of Offenses

In compliance with Resolution No. 1373/2001, which was adopted in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US, the Security Council required all Member States to enact legislation to prosecute and punish the following offenses:

  • Traveling or attempting to travel, on the part of their nationals and other individuals, to another state with the intent to commit, plan, prepare, or participate in terrorist acts or with the intent to be trained.
  • The willful collection of funds, through any means, by their nationals or in the territories of the Member States with the intent to finance the travel of individuals in third states in order to commit terrorist acts or to receive training in cells.
  • The willful organization or facilitation, including recruitment, of the travel of individuals to other countries with the intent to commit, plan, prepare, or participate in terrorist acts, or for the provision or reception of terrorist training.[4] 

B.  Prevention of Entry or Transit

Member States are required to take measures to prevent the entry or transit through their territories of any person for whom the state “has credible information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that he or she is seeking entry into or transit through their territory” in order to commit the acts described above, including any acts or activities demonstrating that an individual or entity is associated with Al-Qaeda, as provided for in Resolution No. 2161/2014.[5] As in Resolution No. 2178/2014, Member States are not obliged to deny entry to or order the departure from their territories of their own nationals or permanent residents.[6]

C.  Airline Passenger Information

Resolution No. 2178/2014 called on Member States to require airlines flying above their territories to submit advance notification of passenger data to the national authorities in order to enable them to prevent entry into or transit though their territories of persons who are listed on the Al-Qaeda Sanctions List kept by the Committee, which was established by Resolution No. 1267/1999 and Resolution No. 1989/2011.[7]

D.  International Cooperation

Resolution No. 2178/2014 also called on Member States to improve international and regional cooperation with the aim of preventing the travel of foreign terrorist fighters from or through their territories, through the sharing of intelligence, best practices, and a deeper understanding of the patterns of travel.[8]

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Global Legal Research Directorate Staff
December 2014


[1] S.C. Res. 2178, U.N. Doc. S/RES/2178 (Sept. 24, 2014), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol= S/RES/2178%20%282014%29.

[2] Sean Davis, Policy Brief: Responding to Foreign Terrorist Fighters: A Risk-Based Playbook for States and the International Community, Global Center on Cooperative Security (Nov. 2014), http://www.globalcenter. org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Nov2014_Responding-to-FTFs_SD.pdf

[3] Id. cl. 5.

[4] Id. cl. 6(a)–(c) (citing S.C. Res. 1373, U.N. Doc. S/RES/1373 (Sept. 28, 2001), http://www.un.org/en/sc/ documents/resolutions/2001.shtml (scroll to number)).

[5] S.C. Res. 2161, U.N. Doc. S/RES/2161 (June 17, 2014), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol= S/RES/ 2161%282014%29.

[6] S.C. Res. 2178, supra note 1, cl. 8.

[7] Id. cl. 9.

[8] Id. cl. 11.

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Last Updated: 06/09/2015