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UN panel removes 45 names from Taliban sanctions list after reviewing nearly 500

UN panel removes 45 names from Taliban sanctions list after reviewing nearly 500

Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, Chair of the 1267 Committee
A United Nations panel reviewing nearly 500 individuals and entities subject to Security Council sanctions for links to the Taliban or Al-Qaida has removed 45 entries – or less than 10 per cent – from the list, it was announced today.

Individuals on the so-called Consolidated List are subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo imposed under Council resolution 1267 of 1999, and related resolutions, by which all UN Member States are required to impose sanctions on Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and those associated with them.

The body tasked with monitoring the sanctions (known as the 1267 Committee) just concluded its review of all the names on the list, as directed to by the Council in resolution 1822.

The Committee, with the help of the Sanctions Monitoring Team, spent 18 months reviewing 488 names that were on the list at the time of the adoption of resolution 1822, and in ended up de-listing 45 and confirming 443.

“We really discussed each of these cases substantively on the basis of information provided to us by the Monitoring Team,” Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, Chair of the 1267 Committee, told a news conference at UN Headquarters.

The 443 confirmed entries include 66 cases for which the final decision is still pending. Mr. Mayr-Harting noted that it would be unrealistic to expect “big movements” on the remaining cases but there could still be some developments in the days and weeks to come.

One of the things the Committee learned during the review is that over half of the 488 entries had been on the list since 2001 and had never been reviewed. So this marked the first time that 270 names were reviewed.

In addition, this was the first time in the history of the Committee that deceased people – a total of eight – were removed from the list, said the Chairman, while noting that some 30 remain on the list.

“It’s not easy to get dead people off the list,” he pointed out. “We have to have convincing proof that that they are really dead and also we have to have information on what happened to their assets, and this in many cases takes some time, but this is work that will have to continue.”

In December 2009, the Council adopted resolution 1904 containing new measures to fine-tune the decade-old 1267 sanctions regime, including through the establishment of an ombudsperson who could mediate requests from individuals, organizations and companies to be taken off the sanctions list.

Mr. Mayr-Harting called the appointment in June of Kimberly Prost as ombudsperson for the 1267 Committee a “very important step” and noted that she already has one case before her.

Resolution 1904, he added, also introduced a series of new types of reviews, including a review of deceased persons that has to take place every six months, an review of entries that lack identifiers (names that could theoretically apply to many people), and an annual review of names that have not been reviewed for three or more years.

Richard Barrett, Coordinator of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, stressed the importance of engaging as many Member States as possible in the review process, not just to obtain information about the listings but also general opinions on the sanctions regime.

“We ended up engaging about two thirds of the membership of the United Nations, about 120 States,” he stated, adding that all Member States took the matter very seriously.

“Of course some lack capacity and in Afghanistan, where a lot of the names are based, it was difficult to get really good information from the authorities there. But they did spend some time trying to provide us with what we wanted.”

He also emphasized that it is crucial for the Committee to continue to review the names and ensure that the list as up to date and as effective as possible, as well as to examine the impact of the review on the overall sanctions regime.

“We really need to be clear what impact it’s having, if it’s only a symbolic impact which is not necessarily unimportant, or whether it’s also a definite practical impact,” he said.

“It’s very important that all this effort should have a proper reward in countering terrorism.”