Immediately following 9-11, the United Nations developed an international legal framework to deprive Al Qaeda of funding. “Unfortunately, that sense of urgency has been diluted… it no longer exists,” Notre Dame Law Professor Jimmy Gurule told the BBC in an interview on Friday, March 7. Gurule was Under Secretary for Enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Treasury when 9-11 occurred. In that role, he had oversight responsibilities for the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Customs Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), among others.
“The reality is that the Sanctions Committee of the U.N. is no longer freezing terrorist funds,” says Gurule, who adds that the reasons for the failure vary from nation to nation. Some countries find it cumbersome, and others may not see the value of the terrorist-designation process anymore. “But the duty to freeze the assets of terrorists is not a discretionary one. It is required by U.N. Security Council resolution, which has the effect of international law,” he explains.
Gurule says that in the three months following 9-11, the United Nations placed approximately 280 names on the U.N. sanctions list. Last year, only eight names were added. “Understandably, states want to be sure that they’re freezing the accounts of the right individuals, but there are well-recognized senior leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda-affiliated groups whose names have not been placed on the list. States need to be held accountable for that.”
Gurule proposes a solution similar to one used to fight money laundering several years ago. Countries that were not in compliance with the international standards on money laundering were placed on a list of non-cooperative countries and territories. A similar list could be created for countries that are non-compliant with international standards on terrorist financing. “I think states would not want to be placed on such a list, so there would be a real incentive for them to come into compliance with their international obligations.”
Listen to Professor Gurulé’s interview with the BBC. – mp3 file, 3:00 mins.
For more information on Professor Gurulé, visit his faculty profile page.