Some terror groups re-brand themselves as humanitarian organisations to evade sanctions: India

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 8: Some terrorist groups have made a “mockery” of the UN Security Council’s sanction regimes by taking full advantage of carve-outs given for humanitarian purposes, India said as it made a veiled reference to Pakistan, saying proscribed terrorist groups in the neighbourhood have re-branded themselves as humanitarian organisations to evade sanctions.
“It is imperative that sanctions do not impede legitimate humanitarian requirements. However, it is important to exercise due diligence while providing humanitarian carve-outs, especially in cases where terrorism finds safe-havens,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said on Monday.
Speaking at the UN Security Council Open Debate hosted by Council President Russia on ‘General issues relating to Sanctions: Preventing their humanitarian and unintended consequences’, Tirumurti said there have been examples of terrorist groups taking full advantage of humanitarian carve-outs, “making a mockery of sanction regimes,” including that of 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
“There have also been several cases of terrorist groups in our neighbourhood, including those listed by this Council, re-branding themselves as humanitarian organisations to evade these sanctions,” he said, making a reference to terror organisations based in Pakistan.
“These terrorist organisations use the umbrella of the humanitarian space to raise funds, recruit fighters and even use human shields. Under the garb of the humanitarian cover provided by such exemptions, these terrorist groups continue to expand their terror activities in the region and beyond. Due diligence, therefore, is an absolute must,” he said.
Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa has a charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation. In 2019, these were banned by Pakistan amid intense global pressure to rein in the terror groups following the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF soldiers. Saeed was listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.
Tirumurti said while the sanction regimes have served well in the global fight against terrorism, preventive diplomacy efforts, assisting member states in implementing peace agreements and against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the regimes must not be an end in themselves.
“In their implementation, the sanction regimes must ensure that they have the intended impact and do not further exacerbate the suffering of the populations at the receiving end. As such, it is necessary to keep these regimes under constant review so that they keep pace with the changing situation on the ground. The sanction measures should be neutral in nature and should not become political instruments of the few powerful.”
Tirumurti noted that the sanctions committees continue to face significant challenges in overseeing the sanctions measures related to technical violations of the arms embargo, objections by humanitarian partners to the reporting requirement, questions about the working of the Panel of Experts, and in some cases, non-cooperation by member states.
“The Chairs of the Sanctions Committees need to play a more proactive role in addressing these challenges. For this, it is imperative that archaic and opaque working methods of Subsidiary Bodies of the Council need to be open, transparent and credible,” he said.
With India currently serving its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Tirumurti is Chair of the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee, the Libya Sanctions Committee as well as the Counter-Terrorism Committee.
Tirumurti stressed that lately, the unintended consequences of sanction measures, including humanitarian consequences, are being increasingly emphasised by the member states and other stakeholders.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reiterated more than once that sanctions have exacerbated suffering in countries confronting armed conflict.
“The unprecedented impact of the covid pandemic has also added to the miseries of the population in countries faced with sanctions. There is, therefore, an urgent need to credibly address these concerns to ease the sufferings of the people,” he said.
On this, India pointed out that sanctions should always be used as an instrument of last resort after having exhausted all other options, and in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter and should not be violative of principles of international law.
Tirumurti said the Security Council should remain respectful of the regional approach adopted by countries and, in collaboration with regional organisations, address challenges related to peace and security, before considering the issuance of such sanctions.
Further, there should be a clear end goal for such sanctions and they should not remain perpetually “as mills around the necks of countries”, he said adding that a clear timeline and criteria for its phased withdrawal be ideally spelt out from the inception stage itself.
He also stressed the need to ensure that all efforts should be made to reduce the negative impact of such measures on the populations of the receiving State. In the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it becomes all the more important. It is important for the Security Council to fully consult all the key regional countries before considering sanctions because more often than not the impact of sanctions is felt not just by the country but by its entire region.
Tirumurti said when it comes to lifting targeted measures, such as arms embargo and assets freeze, the Council needs to prescribe realistic and achievable benchmarks to encourage member states to take steps in the right direction. “We have seen that some of the benchmarks prescribed on conflict-ridden developing countries are even higher than what some developed countries have achieved. This is uncalled for.” (PTI)