FACT SHEET: Resolution 2396 (2017) on Foreign Terrorist Fighters (Returnees and Relocators)

December 21, 2017


Over the last two months, the United States led negotiations on UN Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017), which updates UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014), and provides greater focus on measures to address returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and transnational terrorist groups. To launch these discussions, on October 19, the U.S. Mission to the UN brought together missions from countries affected by the FTF threat, counterterrorism experts, and UN counterterrorism officials to exchange and consider global priorities and perspectives on international efforts to counter the evolving threat posed by FTFs. The new resolution builds on UNSCR 2178 by creating new international obligations and other provisions to strengthen border security and information sharing, including the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, Advanced Passenger Information (API), and biometrics to prevent terrorists from boarding airplanes; will strengthen judicial measures and international cooperation; ensure appropriate prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration of FTFs and their accompanying family members; and strengthen Member States’ cooperation, including with the private sector, to protect public spaces and soft targets.

Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, this resolution:

  • Reaffirms that Member States must comply with their human rights and other applicable international law obligations when fighting terrorism and notes that a failure to do so contributes to radicalization to violence;
  • Expresses grave concern over the acute and growing threat posed by FTFs returning or relocating, particularly from conflict zones, to their countries of origin or nationality, or to third countries;
  • Recognizes the need for domestic law enforcement, intelligence, and counterterrorism agencies within Member States to share appropriate information related to FTFs;
  • Expresses concern over the use of the internet for terrorist purposes and underlines the need to act cooperatively to prevent terrorists from exploiting technology to incite support for terrorist acts, while at the same time respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Welcomes the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decision to require the use of API and decides that Member States shall develop the capability to collect, process, and analyze PNR data;
  • Notes the work of other multilateral bodies, including INTERPOL and other UN entities, such as ICAO, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED); and other relevant actors, such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum


  • Requires Member States to develop and implement systems to collect biometric data and to develop watchlists or databases of known and suspected terrorists, including FTFs;
  • Obliges Member States to require airlines operating in their territories to provide API to the appropriate national authorities and to develop the capability to collect, process, and analyze PNR data.

International Cooperation:

  • Calls upon Member States to prevent FTF movement and to improve international, regional, and sub-regional cooperation so that states are notified regarding the travel, receipt, or deportation of captured or detained individuals who are believed to be terrorists;
  • Highlights the need for countries to comply with their existing obligations regarding cooperation in terrorism-related criminal investigations and proceedings;
  • Encourages Member States to share PNR with relevant or concerned Member States to detect FTFs returning to their countries of origin or nationality, or traveling or relocating to a third country;
  • Encourages Member States to share information related to watchlists or databases of known and suspected terrorists that include biometric data, in compliance with domestic and international human rights law.
  • Calls for action at the global, regional, and national levels to raise the level of effective implementation of the ICAO’s new Global Aviation Security Plan, which seeks to enhance aviation security through enhanced risk awareness, measures against insider threats, enhanced cargo security, technological innovation, and improved oversight and quality assurance.

Prosecution, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Strategies:

  • Urges Member States, in compliance with relevant domestic and international law, to assess and investigate suspected FTFs – including their accompanying family members – and implement prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration strategies, as called for in Resolution 2178, and to ensure that such strategies are a part of their national counterterrorism strategies;
  • Underscores the importance of a whole-of-government approach and recognizes the role civil society organizations play in the rehabilitation and reintegration of returning and relocating FTFs and their families.

UN Engagement:

  • Directs UN counterterrorism bodies, especially UNOCT and CTED, to focus attention on the FTF threat, enabling the international community to assess compliance with this resolution and to target assistance to those countries that need help enforcing its provisions;
  • Requests the Counter-Terrorism Committee, with the support of CTED, to review the 2015 Madrid Guiding Principles in light of the evolving threat of FTFs, particularly returnees, relocators, and their families;
  • Directs the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2368 (2017) and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, to continue to devote special focus to the threat posed by FTFs, specifically those associated with ISIS, al-Nusrah Front, and all groups, undertakings, and entities associated with al-Qaida.
  • Encourages relevant UN agencies, international, regional and sub-regional organizations, and Member States to identify mechanisms and provide technical assistance, resources, and capacity building to Member States to implement the various requirements of the resolution.