Financial Technology

UN sanctions regime should be objective and non-political, NMFT meet affirms

The third No Money For Terror (NMFT) Conference, which concluded in New Delhi on Saturday, affirmed that the UN sanctions regime must function in an objective manner and should be “free from political considerations and duality of standards”. It also expressed concerns over the ability of terrorists to find safe havens and flagged the use of drones to transport weapons and explosives.

“Affirmed that terrorism and its financing, in all forms and manifestations, continues to constitute one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism and its financing are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed, and called for listings and de-listings under these sanction regimes to be done in an objective manner, based on evidence and free from political considerations and duality of standards,” said the Chair’s statement following the conclusion of the event.

Notably, China has blocked as many as five proposals from India and the US to list Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operatives as terrorists under the UN list. These include LeT chief Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha, LeT operative Shahid Mahmood, 26/11 accused Sajid Mir, Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Abdul Rehman Makki and JeM chief Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf Azhar.

The statement stood out for expanding the concerns over terrorism beyond transnational groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, and flagging the existence of safe havens – two pet concerns of India. In the last two conferences — at Paris in 2018 and Melbourne in 2019 — the statements particularly mentioned IS and Al Qaeda as prime threats and did not touch the issues of cross-border terrorism in the Indian subcontinent.

Saturday’s statement skipped the mention of any terror group in particular. “Reaffirmed that the actions to counter terrorism and its financing should be collective and unified, without exceptions on any ground and recommitted to a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism,” it said.

According to the statement, the conference discussed global trends in terrorism and terror financing, use of official and unofficial channels in the financing of terrorism, use of new and emerging technologies for terrorism financing and the need for further strengthening international cooperation to address challenges in combating it.

The conference underlined that opportunity for terrorist entities to access safe havens continues to be a significant concern and “that all States must cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism in order to identify safe havens and deny access to terrorist entities. States should endeavour to bring to justice, in accordance with domestic and international law, any person who supports, facilitates, provides safe haven, participates or attempts to participate in the financing, planning, preparation or commission of terrorist acts”.

Building on concerns raised in past conferences over the use of emerging technologies by terror groups for the generation of finances and proliferation of terrorist content, the statement said the conference emphasized that States should consider and assess terror financing risks associated with specific products and channels used for financial transactions.

These it said included “hawala, cash, MVTS (Money or Value Transfer Services), banking remittances, cards, virtual assets, use of DarkNet, barter systems, trade-based transfers, commercial entities, non-profit organisations, DNFBPs (Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions), new financial instruments and unmanned aerial systems used to transport material, explosives, narcotics, weapons or ammunition. States should design preventive measures, legislation and forward-looking technological solutions to counter these threats.”

The conference also “stressed that States should consider and assess risks related to financing of radicalization, an essential attribute of terrorism, and affirm to take measures to counter such radicalization, in consonance with domestic and international law”.

The statement also stood apart from the previous two conferences in including “biological, chemical and nuclear technologies” among “emerging technologies” to focus on, and the need to prevent the use of new tech in “recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts”.

Like previous conferences, the third NMFT conference also called for partnerships with the private sector, tech firms and civil society for countering terror financing.

The conference “encouraged…financial intelligence units and intelligence services, to continue to establish effective partnerships with the private sector, including financial institutions, financial technology industry and internet and social media companies, with regard to the evolution of trends, sources and methods of the financing of terrorism” even as it “underscored the importance of a Whole-of-Government and Whole-of-Society approach, whereby cooperation in countering terrorism and its financing between all relevant stakeholders, including the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, civil society and private sector, is ensured”.

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