Proposed UN resolution would address problems with sanctions against al-Qaida and Taliban

By Edith M. Lederer, AP
Thursday, December 17, 2009

UN tackles problems with terror sanctions

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council unanimously approved new measures Thursday aimed at ensuring that U.N. sanctions target the right people, companies and organizations for links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Since the council imposed sanctions against the Taliban a decade ago, questions have been raised about the fairness of the list and the rights of those subject to punitive measures to argue their case for being removed. There is also a problem of insufficient information about some on the list, which prevents police, border authorities and financial institutions from implementing sanctions.

The U.S.-sponsored resolution, hammered out after lengthy negotiations, should strengthen the current sanctions regime, making it more transparent and employing an ombudsperson to address these shortcomings.

“For the first time ever, individuals and entities seeking a de-listing will have a chance to present their cases to an independent and impartial ombudsperson appointed by the Secretary General,” Austria’s Ambassador to the UN Thomas Mayr-Harting said following the vote.

Austria, which currently heads the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban, said about 30 court cases have been filed by listed individuals in Europe, Pakistan, Turkey and the United States protesting their inclusion. Mayr-Harting said between 30 to 40 people still on the list are believed to be dead.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice hailed the resolution’s passage as a “real success” adding that it “reaffirms the global consensus against al-Qaida and the Taliban.”

The Security Council imposed sanctions against the Taliban in November 1999 for refusing to send Osama bin Laden to the United States or a third country for trial on terrorism charges in connection with two 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa.

The sanctions — a travel ban, arms embargo and assets freeze — were later extended to al-Qaida. In July 2005, the council extended the sanctions again to cover affiliates and splinter groups of al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The proposed resolution also calls on the 192 U.N. member states to provide as much information as possible when proposing a new entry for the list.

To ensure that the right terrorists are targeted, the resolution gives members of the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions more time to verify that names proposed merit inclusion. Before agreeing to a new designation, the committee is now required to approve detailed “narrative summaries” outlining the reasons for the listing.

The sanctions committee is reviewing all 488 individuals and entities on the list, which should be completed by June 30, 2010. The draft resolution calls for regular reviews every three years, and special annual reviews to remove people who have died or cannot be adequately identified from the list.

Associated Press Writer Michael Astor contributed to this report from the United Nations.

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