In a fresh move to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, the US, supported by France and the UK, has moved a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for discussions leading to a public vote.
The resolution comes two weeks after China put a technical hold on a proposal to list Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council.
“Traditionally, the UNSC delegates its authority to sanction terrorists to the sanctions committees. But, when a listing has been blocked for more than a decade, the UNSC can decide to discuss the issue in the council itself, and put it to public voting,” a source told The Indian Express from New York.
The US on Wednesday circulated the draft resolution to the powerful 15-nation Council to blacklist Azhar and subject him to a travel ban, an assets freeze, and an arms embargo. While this is the first such attempt to designate Azhar at the UNSC, similar resolutions to designate terrorists have taken place in the past.
“This is a legal path; when there is a roadblock at the sanctions committee, the Security council can discuss and vote,” the source said. “It is now on the country concerned to publicly veto the resolution, which it had been doing privately four times.”
At the sanctions committee, a listing proposal is moved through a 10-day no objection period, whereas the draft resolution does not have any time frame. “But any time frame will be shorter than the decade-long wait,” the source said.
Sources said the draft resolution is phrased in a similar fashion as the press statement adopted by consensus while condemning the Pulwama terrorist attack. It will condemn “in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing” on February 14 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district that killed 40 CRPF personnel.
On February 27, France, the UK and the US had moved a proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee, and 13 countries had co-sponsored the proposal. About an hour before the no-objection deadline was to expire on March 13, China had put a technical hold on it.
India had expressed disappointment by the outcome, saying in a statement, “This has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of JeM”.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an apparent reference to China blocking the proposal to designate Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council. “The world cannot afford China’s shameful hypocrisy toward Muslims. On one hand, China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN,” Pompeo said in a tweet.
China on Thursday accused the US of undermining the authority of the UN anti-terrorism committee by “forcefully moving” the resolution in the UNSC, saying America’s move only “complicates” the issue. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: “The US has bypassed the 1267 Committee and directly filed the draft resolution to the Security Council. This is not in line with the resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations.”
He said that move had “reduced” the authority of the committee as a main anti-terrorism body of the Security Council. “This is not in line, not conducive to the solidarity and will only complex the issue. We urge the US to act cautiously and avoid forcefully moving forward this resolution draft,” he said.
Speaking at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing in Beijing, Geng reiterated that China had earlier put a “technical hold” to the relevant listing of Azhar on March 13 since it needed more time to conduct an “in-depth and comprehensive review”.
In Delhi, sources said they are aware that a draft has been initiated for consideration of Council members to list Azhar in the sanctions regime. “Our views on Masood Azhar, the founder-leader of the JeM… are well known,” the source said. “It will not be appropriate for us to comment at this stage on a process which is entirely within the parameters of informal discussion of the Council and its members.”