Security Council. Topic B: Protection of Natural Resources and Cultural Heritage from Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime

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1 Security Council Topic B: Protection of Natural Resources and Cultural Heritage from Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime Terrorists raise money through the oil trade, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, trafficking of humans and arms, and racketeering. They loot and sell precious cultural property, shamelessly profiting from the destruction of humanity s common heritage. Just as terrorist groups are innovating and diversifying, the international community must stay ahead of the curve to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. 1 -Ban Ki-Moon, Former United Nations Secretary-General Terrorism is recognized by the international community as one of the gravest threats to international peace and security due to its human and economic costs, as well as its tendency to exacerbate political instability. The exploitation of natural resources and cultural property has increasingly become means by which terrorists finance their activities with devastating effects to the environment and human heritage. Oil, precious metals, minerals, and irreplaceable cultural artifacts are then trafficked by transnational organized criminal groups alongside arms, persons, and drugs. This relationship increases the ability of these groups to operate and prolongs the human suffering that occurs as a result. Combating the financing of terrorism and transnational organized crime (TOC) has long been on the agenda of the Security Council, but has recently acquired a new urgency due to emerging threats. The Security Council, as the primary body for the maintenance of international peace and security, has the responsibility to utilize the tools at its disposal to eradicate financing for terrorist groups. This includes creating partnerships between United Nations bodies, Member States, the private sector, and civil society organizations (CSOs) in order to advance protections for vulnerable natural resources and cultural heritage in order to combat terrorist groups and TOC. 2 Background: Protections for Cultural Property During World War II, the Nazi regime undertook the systematic theft or destruction of millions of cultural artifacts. 3 This prompted the creation of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954), which outlined a number of provisions for ensuring the protection of monuments, works of art, books of historical significance, and 1 Ban Ki-Moon, Threats to International Peace and Security, (speech, New York, December 17, 2016), United Nations Department of Public Information, 2 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2322 (2016), Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, S/RES/2322(2016) (December 12, 2016), 3 Jennifer Otterson Mollick, The Fate of Cultural Property in Wartime: Why it Matters and What Should Be Done, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, September 17, 2013,

2 other forms of cultural heritage often targeted during armed conflict. It also detailed measures to take in regards to breaches of the convention, including the application of sanctions. 4 Since then, a number of agreements to protect cultural heritage have been negotiated, including the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970), the Convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), and the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2003). 5 Cultural heritage is often targeted for several reasons. Cultural property can be a valuable form of income for terrorist groups looking to continue and expand their operations; this trend has increased to unprecedented levels within the past decade. Additionally, attacks on cultural heritage exacerbate fragmentations within societies and cement cycles of violence that are hard to break. Finally, cultural cleansing reduces societies abilities to recover from the impacts of terrorism and increases susceptibility to a monoculture of extremism, aiding recruitment efforts. 6 Exploitation of Natural Resources The international community has seen a large increase in international terrorist networks and transnational organized crime in countries experiencing instability. In addition, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has demonstrated a link between violent conflicts, including those involving non-state entities, and natural resource abundance. Precious metals, minerals, timber, cocoa, and oil have been used to finance violent acts across the developing world. 7 For example, terrorist groups and guerrilla movements, in partnership with TOC groups, used the diamond trade not only as a source of income, but also to provide a front for money laundering. The diamond trade, in part, sponsored a number of insurgencies and protracted civil wars in Africa, embassy bombings, and even the September 11 attacks. The Security Council has taken measures in the past to block the use of natural resources to sponsor insurgencies and terrorist acts, but there are no agreements of a similar scope and purpose as the conventions on cultural property. 8 Current Issues: 4 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, 5 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 (2017), Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, S/RES/2322(2016) (March 24, 2017), 6 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Reinforcement of UNESCO s Action for the Protection of Culture and the Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in the Event of Armed Conflict, 7 United Nations Environment Programme, From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment, 8 Global Witness, For a Few Dollars More: How al Qaeda Moved into the Diamond Trade, 2

3 The international community currently faces a diverse number of challenges related to the protection of natural resources and cultural heritage from terrorism and TOC. The following case studies examine some of the most prominent examples, but the Security Council can also take broader actions based on the issues discussed here. Iraq and Syria ISIL is a terrorist organization based in Iraq and Syria, with a network that has financiallydependent affiliates in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan. It has also conducted terrorist attacks in Europe and Asia. ISIL earns tens of millions of dollars each month, mainly from extortion of those in the so-called Caliphate and proceeds from oil trafficking. In addition, because oil-related infrastructure has been a major target by the Syrian and Iraqi armies, an increasing share of income comes from looting and smuggling cultural property. 9 While the Security Council has struggled to achieve consensus on how to combat ISIL, a number of steps have been taken to protect the natural resources and cultural heritage of the area occupied by the group. Security Council resolution 2199 created sanctions to prohibit the trading of oil and petroleum derivatives with ISIL, freeze the assets of ISIL and affiliated groups and individuals, and indefinitely suspend the purchase of cultural property from Iraq and Syria. 10 Additionally, Security Council resolution 2253 added a travel ban, expanded the mandate of the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee to include ISIL, and called upon Member States to undertake greater information sharing on the implementation of the sanctions. The resolution also noted that many States were not complying with the reporting provisions on oil and cultural property in Security Council Resolution 2199, which is vital to ensuring the protection of natural resources and cultural heritage. 11 The Security Council also adopted resolution 2347, the first to focus specifically on the impacts of terrorism and transnational organized crime on cultural heritage. The resolution calls for cooperation between Member States, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and INTERPOL to share information on criminal acts against cultural property. 12 Central African Republic The CAR is currently embroiled in an intrastate conflict involving the government and 14 main armed groups, and is host to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the 9 United Nations Security Council, Fifth report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat, S/2017/467 (May 31, 2017), 10 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 (2015), Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, S/RES/2199(2015) (March 24, 2017), 11 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2253 (2015), Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, S/RES/2253(2015) (March 24, 2017), 12 United Nations Security Council Resolutiom 2347 (2017). 3

4 CAR (MINUSCA). 13 The Security Council has not labeled these armed groups as terrorists, but they have noted the increased vulnerability of the CAR to TOC. Wildlife, gold, and diamonds were all identified as potential means to sponsor arms trafficking and extremism. In response, the Security Council has issued sanctions against individuals in S/RES/2127 (2013) and S/RES/2196 (2015), in part for the poaching of elephants and the illegal mining and trafficking of diamonds in order to sponsor arms acquisition. The resolution also stressed the Kimberley Process (KP), a group of exporting and importing Member States, the private sector, and CSOs dedicated to halting the illicit trade of diamonds. In 2013, KP representatives voted to sanction the export of diamonds from the CAR until it could be verified that proceeds were not funding armed violence. Since then, legal export has resumed from certain regions of the CAR, but concerns remain regarding a trafficking ring that has expanded to Chad and Cameroon. 14 Mali Mali is a country in western Africa that hosts some of the world s most crucial ancient artifacts. Cities, such as Timbuktu, host multiple sites that contain rare items, such as manuscripts dating back to the 12 th century. Over the past several years, Mali has suffered from an internal conflict that has been fought between the national government in the south and a Tuareg nationalist movement seeking an autonomous state in the northern half of the country. However, in recent years, the separatist movement has fractured into multiple radicalized groups that have taken up arms and caused havoc throughout the rural north. 15 In 2012, radicalized militia groups seized the ancient city of Timbuktu and destroyed several mausoleums and mosques, as well as thousands of manuscripts. The incident resulted in the loss of numerous items linked to great cultural significance and historical importance. As a result, the issue was referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the government of Mali after the city was liberated later that year. A number of cases were opened against several individuals connected to issuing orders for the destruction of artifacts in Timbuktu. This marked the first time that the destruction of cultural property was taken up by the ICC and set the precedent of punishing the act as a war crime. 16 Future Outlook: The Security Council must adapt to the numerous ways terrorists and TOC groups are able to exploit natural resources and cultural property. Terrorists are increasingly communicating, 13 United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic, S/2017/473 (June 2, 2017), 14 Central African Republic to resume diamond exports after 3-year ban, Reuters, June 6, 2016, 15 Destabilization of Mali, Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 20, 2017, 16 Mali: ICC trial over destruction of cultural property in Timbuktu shows need for broader accountability, Amnesty International, August 22, 2016, 4

5 recruiting, and laundering money through the internet, which will necessitate greater communication and coordination between Member States. Providing guidance for the repatriation of trafficked artifacts, in tandem with the prohibition of the international trade in cultural property from conflict zones, could help with both protection and rehabilitation of cultural heritage. Due to the link between natural resources and armed conflict, the Security Council should explore this nexus and consider ways to reinforce arrangements like the KP. Furthermore, the Security Council has passed a number of sanctions, but fostering partnerships with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UNESCO, INTERPOL, and other international organizations will be critical to ensuring a holistic response to this issue United Nations Security Council Resolution 2322 (2016). 5

6 Focus Questions: 1. How does your Member State define terrorism and TOC? 2. What types of natural resources and cultural heritage are most vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists and TOC? 3. How can the Security Council work within its mandate to extend additional protections to natural resources and cultural property? 4. Where are there opportunities for linkages between different areas of the UN in regards to this topic? 6

7 Bibliography Amnesty International. Mali: ICC trial over destruction of cultural property in Timbuktu shows need for broader accountability. August 22, Ban, Ki-Moon. Threats to International Peace and Security. Speech, New York, December 17, United Nations Department of Public Information. Central African Republic to resume diamond exports after 3-year ban. Reuters, June 6, Council on Foreign Relations. Destabilization of Mali. accessed on August 20, Global Witness. For a Few Dollars More: How al Qaeda Moved into the Diamond Trade. Accessed on August 26, Human Rights Watch. World Report 2012: Nigeria. Accessed on August 29, Mollick, Jennifer Otterson. The Fate of Cultural Property in Wartime: Why it Matters and What Should Be Done. Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, September 17, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Accessed on August 25, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Reinforcement of UNESCO s Action for the Protection of Culture and the Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in the Event of Armed Conflict. Accessed on August 26, United Nations Environment Programme. From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment. Accessed on August 26,

8 United Nations Security Council. Fifth report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat. S/2017/467 (May 31, 2017). United Nations Security Council. Report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic. S/2017/473 (June 2, 2017). United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 (2015). Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. S/RES/2199(2015) (March 24, 2017). United Nations Security Council Resolution 2322 (2016). Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. S/RES/2322(2016) (December 12, 2016). United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 (2017). Maintenance of international peace and security. S/RES/2347(2017) (March 24, 2017). United Nations Security Council Resolution 2349 (2017). Peace and security in Africa. S/RES/2349(2017) (March 24, 2017), 8

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