UNITED NATIONS - The United States will convene a summit meeting on Sept. 25 to focus international attention to the “growing and dangerous phenomenon” of foreign terrorist fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to a top American diplomat.
“[US] President [Barrack] Obama will convene a Security Council summit to draw high-level international attention and action to the growing and dangerous phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters,” said Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the president of the 15-member Council for the month of September.
Briefing reporters at UN Headquarters on the programme of work during its month-long presidency, which began on Monday, she said the Council summit would be attended by Heads of State or Government, while explaining that the events over the last months, particularly the expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, had driven home the need to discuss the issue, “including sadly yesterday,” Ms. Power noted, referring to the beheading of a second US journalist in recent weeks.
Ms. Power referred to the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters who are returning home “often radicalized” and posing “the most profound kind” of threat to their fellow citizens.
“It will require a huge amount of work by the Member States of the United Nations to curb that flow” and to “take advantage of the capillaries of the international system” to outpace the foreign terrorist fighters,” she said.
The US Ambassador also headlined some of the key issues that were on the Security Council’s work plan, beginning tomorrow with a briefing on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and a humanitarian update on the situation in that country towards the end of the month.
Ms. Power also noted that the Council in September would hold an open debate on “children and armed conflict” based on the Secretary-General’s latest report, which includes 8 countries and 51 non-State actors as perpetrating violations against children, including, for the first time, Boko Haram.
Among other headlined items were the situation regarding detained peacekeepers from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), on which Council members were briefed earlier this morning, the escalating violence in Libya and the renewal of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), whose mandate expires at the end of the month.
She said the Council would also meet on Haiti to hear a Secretariat proposal for the reduction of troop levels there, as well as hear briefings on Afghanistan, Ukraine and Iraq.
In response to a question about whether there was a need for the Council to adjust the mandate for UNDOF, Ms. Power said that there was no question that the challenges that the mission faced today were “vastly different” from 1974.
She noted that the idea of terrorist groups at your doorstep, exchanges of fire and flights of refugees in the areas the peacekeepers are operating in are issues that came up subsequent to the creation of the UNDOF mandate, but the Security Council President said she had not considered if a mandate revision was needed.
Ms. Power noted that the original purpose to monitor disengagement is still “critically important” to prevent a further spillover.