UNITED NATIONS – A proposed U.N. resolution which the U.S. hopes will be unanimously approved at a meeting chaired by President Barack Obama later this month would require all countries to prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters preparing to join terrorist groups.
The draft Security Council resolution, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, would also require the 193 U.N. member states to ensure that their domestic laws and regulations punish their nationals who travel or attempt to travel to another country to plan or carry out terrorist acts.
The resolution would threaten sanctions on individuals or groups that recruit or provide support for al-Qaida and the breakaway Islamic State group.
The United States chose the threat posed by foreign fighters as the centerpiece of its month-long term of the rotating Security Council presidency. It has organized a summit meeting of leaders from the 15 council nations to be chaired by Obama on Sept. 24, the opening day of the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial session. The U.S. draft is currently being negotiated and the final version will be put to a vote at the meeting.
A leading terrorism expert who has been advising the Security Council on the foreign fighter threat, said Monday that more than 12,000 foreigners from 74 countries have gone to fight with rebels in Syria, 60 to 70 percent from other Middle Eastern countries and about 20 to 25 percent from Western nations.
Prof. Peter Neumann, who directs the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London, said the Syrian conflict has sparked the most significant mobilization of foreign fighters since the 1980s war in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation, where up to 20,000 foreigners participated over the course of a decade.
The draft encourages governments to engage local communities to help counter the violent extremism that can incite terrorist acts and recruitment of foreign fighters. This should include "empowering" youths and families, developing non-violent alternatives to prevent conflict, and promoting peaceful alternatives "to violent narratives espoused by foreign terrorist fighters," it says.