Remarks at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Overcoming Challenges in Situations of Armed Conflict and Counter-Terrorism Operations

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
August 11, 2021


Thank you, Ambassador Kimani, for your initiative in organizing this event on such a pressing topic. And thanks to the briefers who put some important issues and experiences on the table.

A few days ago, we commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the August 7 terrorist attacks on our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed 224 people and wounded 4,500 more. This, like so many other anniversaries of terrorist attacks across the globe that we have seen, is a solemn reminder of our responsibility to protect our citizens from terrorism at home and abroad. From Somalia and Syria to Afghanistan and Yemen, insurgent and terrorist groups are exploiting human suffering and humanitarian crises to advance their violent ideologies. These groups deliberately target humanitarian workers, an unacceptable practice which must cease.

The United States proudly supports principled humanitarian action by UN agencies, the ICRC, and humanitarian NGOs via financial and diplomatic means. As the Security Council considers how to address the threat posed by terrorism, sanctions remain an effective tool for constraining the resources and limiting the reach of terrorists.

The U.S. is in constant dialogue with our humanitarian non-governmental partners, UN agencies, and others on how sanctions may impact their work. Policies addressing humanitarian assistance, sanctions, and counterterrorism issues are often intertwined, and we must ensure they are mutually-reinforcing. While we ensure that Member States fully implement their international sanctions obligations, we must see to it that they do not compromise the very security those sanctions seek to safeguard.

As we have heard, tensions between government policies and business decisions made by financial institutions can exist. While States cannot force industry to alter their internal risk threshold, we can work with them to provide guidance on the extent to which sanctions and other measures might impact their business decisions and ensure they are aware of options to mitigate unintended negative consequences.

For example, the U.S. Department of Treasury holds quarterly meetings with civil society organizations regarding the provision of assistance in conflict zones, terrorism sanctions mechanisms, and financial access issues, and has developed a Joint Fact Sheet on Due Diligence Requirements for Charities and Non-Profit Organizations.

The violent and destructive actions of al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups aggravate humanitarian crises and undermine humanitarian relief by endangering humanitarian actors and impeding their activities. The United States remains committed to combating terrorist groups, while ensuring humanitarians can reach those most in need. For example, in our view, al-Shabaab’s designation pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 751 and subsequent resolutions remains an effective component of a broader multilateral strategy to deprive al-Shabaab of resources, curb the terror activities of the group, and address the underlying drivers of the longstanding conflict in Somalia. And we remain committed to the group’s continued designation under the 751 sanctions regime.

On February 26, the UN Somalia Sanctions Committee designated three al-Shabaab leaders, including the group’s deputy, and the United States is currently preparing to nominate another important al-Shabaab operational figure for designation under the 751 sanctions regime. Again, these are just a few examples of our commitment to tackling the shared threat from al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups around the globe.

So, to conclude, it’s imperative that the UN Security Council collaborate with Member States, humanitarian organizations, civil society, and the private sector to tailor solutions on how best to navigate requirements and risks under domestic sanctions regimes and international sanctions obligations. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and continued dialogue is essential to ensure counterterrorism measures and humanitarian operations are mutually reinforcing.

Again, we appreciate Kenya hosting this Arria today, and welcome future opportunities to advance this important conversation.

Thanks very much, Chair.