November 2015 – UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution, drafted by France, calling on countries around the world to take “all necessary measures” to fight the Islamic State. The 15-to-0 vote came a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, and just hours after the deadly siege of a hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali, by Islamic militants. The French ambassador, François Delattre, told the Security Council after the vote that the resolution “recognizes the exceptional nature of the Daesh threat,” using an Arabic acronym for the group.
Russia voted for the measure, which signaled a rare diplomatic convergence. For four years, Russia and the West have sparred over the war in Syria, with the Kremlin staunchly backing the government and Western powers backing the opposition. Russia has floated its own counterterrorism proposal, but it would require coordination with the governments of the affected countries — meaning, in Syria, the administration of President Bashar al-Assad. That idea is anathema to the West.
Hinting at the reluctance of his Western rivals to cooperate with the Syrian government, Russia’s envoy, Vitaly I. Churkin, said the fight against terrorism should be “guided not by ambition but by shared values.” The resolution approved Friday gets around that knot by offering no legal basis for military action. Nor does it cite Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which authorizes the use of force. Several Council resolutions already apply to the fight against terrorist groups. Sanctions are in place against Al Qaeda and related organizations and individuals, another resolution is aimed at preventing the flow of foreign fighters into groups like the Islamic State, and yet another forbids trade in oil or antiquities with the Islamic State. The latest measure does not specifically authorize any new action by France or any other country. It does offer France the moral and political backing of the Security Council.
The resolution calls upon countries to “take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL,” using another acronym for the group. It calls for the eradication of the group’s “safe havens” in Syria and Iraq. The French draft singles out two entities that are already subject to United Nations-backed sanctions — the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda — but it leaves open the possibility of adding other groups.
The vote comes against the backdrop of rising resistance in Europe and the United States to the admission of Syrian refugees. On Friday, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, announced a summit meeting designed to draw pledges from countries to resettle Syrians. The United Nations refugee agency will host the summit meeting in March, Mr. Ban said at a meeting of the General Assembly, warning of “misplaced suspicions about migrants and refugees, especially those who are Muslim.” –NY Times