United Nations Targets Islamic State Funds

United Nations

The United Nations Security Council met on Thursday to discuss a resolution targeting the Islamic State’s sources of funding. The 15 member panel unanimously adopted a Russian-drafted resolution that would impose economic and diplomatic penalties on anyone helping the Islamic State earn money from oil, antiquities, or hostages.

The resolution will require that all 193 members of the United Nations take appropriate measures to be sure that they are not engaging in trade with the terrorist organization. It specifically imposes a ban on the trade of antiquities from Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State has been raising significant funds.The resolution builds on previous measures that the United Nations has taken to prevent the Islamic State from receiving funding from any source. Russia’s ambassador to the UN said that this is an “important step in suppressing the funding of terrorists.”

The main body of the resolution proposes a ban on oil trade with Islamic State and Nusra Front controlled oil fields and refineries. A UN report released in November estimated that the jihadists earned up to $1.65 million per day from oil sales alone. The resolution puts pressure on Turkey, which is believed to be a transit point for the Islamic State’s oil trade. However, the U.S. government does not believe this is the main source of funding.

Another major source of funding for the Islamic State which the United Nations is now targeting under the resolution is a bustling trade in antiquities from Iraq and Syria. The group encourages looting from historical and archaeological sites. Iraq’s ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Ali Alhakim reminded reporters of the Islamic State’s raid on the historic city of Mosul last year. He said that the attackers pillaged the University of Mosul and took many valuable historical artifacts.

The Islamic State also raises money through kidnapping for ransom. The United States, Britain, Japan, and many other nations have refused to pay ransom, which has led to the deaths of many hostages. However, some countries do pay for the safe release of their captive citizens. In the past year, it is estimated that the Islamic State received $35 million to $45 million in ransom payments from the governments of the world.

The United Nations Security Council is concerned that the number of kidnappings for ransom continues to rise. Members are determined to prevent terrorist organizations from taking hostages for ransom. They also want to ensure that hostages can be released without ransom or political concessions.

The Security Council’s resolution does not authorize the use of military force to enforce it. It encourages governments to share information they may receive about the Islamic State’s sources of funding. The consequences for violating the terms of the resolution have not yet been decided. The Security Council will be required to decide if a violation has taken place and decide the penalty.

Iraq and Syria both welcome the resolution. Syria’s United Nations ambassador said that the resolution targeting the Islamic State’s funds is “the most comprehensive resolution addressing the issue of terrorism.” The resolution is evidence of unity in the Security Council, which is often divided on key issues.

By Kirstin Pinto


The Economic Times
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Photo courtesy of Norway UN/Emma K Lydersen- Flickr License

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