On November 20, the UN Security Council “determined” that the Islamic State (ISIL) constitutes an “unprecedented” threat to international peace and security; and it called on Member States to take “all necessary measures … to prevent and suppress ISIL’s terrorist acts”. Resolution 2249 (2015), which “reaffirmed” 14 other previous resolutions on the same or related subjects, was originally sponsored by France following the Paris attacks and received unanimous approval.
The resolution doesn’t exactly make for riveting reading. The key operative paragraph, the one that tells the world what the Security Council decrees we must do, is as follows:
5. (The Security Council) Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;
As usual, delegates had the opportunity to make statements explaining their country’s position. The French ambassador said he was grateful the resolution had been passed unanimously. He said the resolution had recognized the exceptional nature of the threat which ISIL posed, and he pointed out that collective action could now be based on Article 51 of the UN Charter — the one which affirms the inherent right of self-defence.
The Russian ambassador said his country “had to support the French resolution” and was grateful France had taken Russian amendments on board. But he said it was a pity and short-sighted that “some” had blocked passage of a Russian draft resolution in September.
The British ambassador welcomed the Council’s “speed, unity and clarity of purpose” in adopting the resolution.
Michele Sison, the US Deputy Permanent Representative, called for “accelerated efforts … to degrade the hateful world view espoused by ISIL and the Al-Nusrah Front”. The US, she said, was taking “necessary and proportionate military action to deny ISIL safe haven”.
Their excellencies from Nigeria, Lithuania, Jordan, New Zealand, Chile, Angola, and Venezuela also spoke.
But the last word, though he was third in speaking order, must be given the Spanish ambassador who declared: “Today, we are all French, Russian, Malian and Arab. It is time to act with a French, Russian, Malian and Arab heart.”
And all it took was 45 minutes.