Preventing Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons: Examining the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2370

October 25th, 2018

On 22 October, a panel discussion on Security Council resolution 2370 (2011) was held as a side event of the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security. The panel evaluated the resolution’s implementation and considered strategies to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons.

It was organized by the Permanent Missions of Australia, Germany and Egypt to the United Nations in collaboration with the Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

UNIDIR Chief of Research John Borrie, the panel’s moderator, opened the discussion by describing the complex and multifaceted challenge of preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons. He said the resolution offers a unique opportunity for the international community to strengthen its cooperation in this regard.

Representatives from Australia, Egypt and Germany each agreed that implementation of the resolution could be improved.

Jean-Philippe Morange, a Senior Legal Officer at CTED, outlined various obstacles to implementation, including the ability of terrorists to obtain weapons on the dark web and use 3D printers.

“These are challenges we need to now address,” Mr. Morange stated. He called upon States to share best practices and to prosecute arms traffickers.

Mr. Ivor Fung, a Senior Political Affairs Officer from UNODA, identified further barriers to implementation, such as the diversion of weapons from Government stockpiles to terrorist groups.

“Tracing remains a challenge for many States,” Mr. Fung said.

Mr. Leonardo Lara, a Firearms Control Expert for UNODC, agreed that tracing presents difficulties. He said that while investigations into criminal activity sometimes result in prosecution and seizure, States fail to track weapons to their origins. Mr. Lara called for parallel investigations aimed at determining where illicit weapons originate.

Ms. Camille Aubourg, a Programme Officer at the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), made additional suggestions for improvement. She noted that UNMAS has worked with governments in Mali and the Ivory Coast to provide weapons management training and dispose of arms.

“We believe it is imperative to continue engaging with national institutions,” Ms. Aubourg said.

Responding to a question put to the panel about other remaining difficulties, Mr. Fung said more work could be done to help States build capacity around export controls and diversion at the

manufacturing level. He recommended developing tracing technologies and engaging with industry.

Speaking along similar lines, Mr. Morange stated that weapons are still transported through the mail even though they are often purchased on the dark web. He suggested postal agencies could be encouraged to flag suspicious packages.

Mr. Lara called for better information sharing by Governments. He said cases are often deemed confidential when they are linked to terrorism, inhibiting tracing efforts.

Mr. Borrie concluded by thanking the audience for an excellent discussion.

Text by Victoria Brownle