Counterterrorism and the United Nations Security Council Since 9/11

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Overview: An independent review and assessment of  the UN Security Council’s counterterrorism activities since September 11, 2001, Counterterrorism and the United Nations Security Council Since 9/11: Moving Beyond the 2001 Paradigm is the culmination of one year of desk and commissioned research, as well as a mix of in-person, virtual, and hybrid consultations with a diversity of stakeholders.

Released in September 2022, the report identifies where the Council can best add value to international counterterrorism efforts 20 years after the 9/11 attacks and features policy-relevant recommendations for ensuring a more effective and sustainable approach going forward.  

To read the full report, click here.

To read the report’s main findings and recommendations, click here.

To read the press release, click here.

Rationale: September 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which led to a global response that transformed the international security landscape, including at the UN Security Council. The Council’s adoption of Resolution 1373 some two weeks after the attacks imposed a range of legal and operational requirements on all member states, and laid the foundation for  an international counterterrorism legal and policy framework that has continued to expand over the past two decades.

This steady drumbeat of Council-led counterterrorism activities continues, despite the lack of an independent assessment of the efficacy of the Council’s work in this field  and the rapid expansion of the wider UN counterterrorism program. The Council’s response now consists of some 40 resolutions, containing dozens of provisions that all countries are either obligated or expected to implement at a national level. It  has also featured the creation of Council institutions to monitor and support implementation of this elaborate framework, in addition to bodies monitoring implementation of Council sanctions and weapons of mass destruction regimes. 

The Council’s counterterrorism track record over the past two decades is mixed. There has been some progress made in reflecting evolving threats and concerns and efforts to increase transparency and  inclusiveness. However, Security Council members have vastly expanded the scope of work for the body  with little follow up on assessing capacity and impact. Recognizing that Council activities may have political or other non-counterterrorism benefits for member states, the initiative offers a critical analysis of the outcomes and impacts of these activities.