In the above-embedded video, Abby Martin of RT‘s Breaking the Set brought to light some of the concerns that civil liberties advocates have raised regarding the United Nations Security Council’s newly-passed anti-terrorism measure Resolution 2178, which is aimed at stopping the flow of funding to and preventing the travel of foreign fighters who attempt to cross borders to join terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda on the battlefield. RT correspondent Marina Portnaya also participated in the discussion, which considered the possible unintended consequences of the resolution’s vaguely-worded language, including fears that the text could be used by member states to target political activists.
Marina Portnaya told Martin, “…the resolution requires all UN member states to take a series of measures to prevent the movement and recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters. So, for example, law enforcement agents now have the authority to prevent and suppress what they deem as recruiting, organizing, transporting, or equipping of individuals who travel to a foreign country for the purpose of committing terrorist attacks. Officials can prevent people from traveling if they have ‘credible information that provides reasonable grounds,’ but what that actually means we don’t know because that statement wasn’t defined in the resolution.”
While UN resolutions are sometimes ignored by member states, Reuters pointed out the fact that the UN Security Council claims legal authority to enforce the measure “with economic sanctions or force” through Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Practically speaking, UN resolutions are typically more strictly enforced on smaller nations with limited military power, rather than on superpowers like those on the Security Council.
According to NPR, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2178 on September 24. Portnaya expressed her belief that the resolution passed swiftly due to the political reality that member states did not want to be seen as voting against a measure aimed at stopping ISIS’ rampage across Syria and Iraq.
In the video above, Portnaya outlined some concerns that civil liberties activists have expressed about the text, “If you read the text of the resolution, it requires governments to grant law enforcement authorities a wider scope to monitor and suppress the travel and other activities of suspected foreign terrorists, but how each country defines potential terrorists or jihadists is different. This could allow countries to monitor more people in the name of international security. Additionally, Human Rights Watch says the resolution is rampant with potential due process violations because the text doesn’t articulate the process in which suspects would be denied their right to travel, and some critics say that some provisions of the resolution actually promote the idea that people can be prosecuted for their thoughts and beliefs, but not their actions. So basically, this resolution does not specifically detail what exact criminal conduct is a prerequisite for detention.” She also voiced concerns that “[member states] could include a traveler’s previous itinerary for potential grounds for detention,” fearing that this might lead authorities to profile individuals who travel to places like the Middle East or North Africa.
The BBC notes that Resolution 2178 may be difficult to enforce, as each nation has its own anti-terrorism policies. Critics have compared its language to the USA PATRIOT Act, which has been blamed for authorizing a wide range of civil liberties abuses by the US government against its citizens.