Egypt to head counterterrorism committee in UN Security Council

Egypt was unanimously chosen to head the counterterrorism committee on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC,) reported the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The Security Council chose Egypt to head three committees overall, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a press statement. These include Committee 1373, which deals with the fight against terrorism, Committee 1518, which follows and monitors sanctions on Iraq, and Committee 1533, which is tasked with monitoring sanctions on Congo, reported the Reuters-affiliated Aswat Masreya.

Abu Zeid stated that the decision to have Egypt lead these committees reflects the confidence Security Council members have in Egypt’s ability to take administrative responsibility for the work of these committees, especially the counterterrorism committee, reported Aswat Masreya.

The counterterrorism committee was formed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and is tasked with working with member states “to prevent terrorist acts both within their borders and across regions,” according to the Security Council’s website.

On September 28, 2001, the counterterrorism committee encouraged all UN members to adopt Resolution 1373 to counteract terrorism on an international scale. The measures proposed by Resolution 1373 include criminalizing the financing of terrorism, suppressing safe havens for terrorists, cooperating with other governments when it comes to investigating, arresting and extraditing terrorists and criminalizing active and passive assistance to terrorism domestically.

The fight against terrorism has been a key element of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s time in office. In August 2015 the president ratified a controversial anti-terrorism law that gives unprecedented power to courts and security forces against “terrorist suspects.”

After the bill was passed, right groups called the law a “blow to the constitution” and criticized it for “destroying the state of law, consolidating the undeclared state of emergency with the excuse of protecting society and national unity, and preventing the promotion of violence.”

On October 30, the Interior Ministry reported that almost 12,000 people have been arrested over the past year on terrorism-related charges.

Egypt only recently became a non-permanent member of the UNSC, after winning an uncontested seat on October 15, 2015.

In addition to the five permanent members of the UNSC – France, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and China – the UNSC also has 10 non-permanent members, which represent five different regional blocs for a period of two years.

Egypt holds the North Africa seat and will soon hold the Arab swing seat, which currently belongs to Jordan, whose term ends at the end of 2015.