The UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the Global Center organized, with the generous support of the government of the Netherlands, an interactive briefing on reviewing the Madrid Guiding Principles. In 2015, the Security Council adopted 35 Guiding Principles on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters as a practical tool for use by Member States (S/2015/939), in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2178. These resulted from a special meeting on foreign terrorist fighters, organized by the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and hosted by the Government of Spain in Madrid.

On December 13, 2018, the CTC will convene a special meeting in New York to review the 2015 Madrid Guiding Principles, as requested in Security Council Resolution 2396. The meeting will be open to representatives of Member States, international and regional organizations, civil society organizations (CSOs), academia, and the private sector and will focus on the evolving threat posed by FTFs, particularly returnees, relocators, and their families.

The purpose of the interactive briefing on 19 November was to discuss the review process of the Madrid Guiding Principles and potential challenges and good practices in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2396 to create an opportunity for civil society actors and academics to hear directly from CTED about the review process and development of the draft Addendum, and for CSOs to provide their recommendations and comments in the presence of members of the Security Council and UN entities.

During the briefing, participants urged the CTC to include precise language deriving from international human rights and humanitarian law obligations, including the right to privacy, the right to assembly, and freedom of expression, as they relate to the broad range of foreign fighters (FFs) and their families. Participants reiterated the importance of formally and informally engaging CSOs and other non-governmental actors and experts during the formulation of the Addendum and other CTC documents, to ensure effective and appropriate formulation and implementation at the national and regional levels. In the fulfillment of CTED’s mandate, the need for UN-wide cooperation in the implementation of the principles was highlighted, including with UN special procedures mechanisms.

While participants welcomed the initiative to adopt an Addendum to account for new issues surrounding the return and relocation of FFs and their families, they also reiterated the need to focus on the continued, appropriate implementation of the original Madrid Guiding Principles.

The issues discussed and recommendations made by CSOs during the meeting are reflected in a document that has been shared with CTC members to inform their review of the proposed Addendum.

Photo credit: Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)


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