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Why does China keep blocking the names India suggests for listing under the United Nations Security Council’s list of terrorists who are affiliated to the Al Qaeda and ISIS? Which was the most recent event? What is the mandate of the 1267 Committee that was set up in 1999 by the United Nations?

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Why does China keep blocking the names India suggests for listing under the United Nations Security Council’s list of terrorists who are affiliated to the Al Qaeda and ISIS? Which was the most recent event? What is the mandate of the 1267 Committee that was set up in 1999 by the United Nations?

The story so far: On Wednesday, China placed a “hold” on two joint India-US proposals, to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) top leaders including Talha Saeed, son of Hafiz Saeed and Shahid Mehmood, deputy chief of an LeT front at the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) 1267 list of terrorists affiliated to Al Qaeda and ISIS. The holds marked the fourth and fifth time China had attempted to block a listing move by India and the U.S. in the past four months.

What does “placing a hold” mean?

The 1267 committee that was set up in 1999 (updated in 2011 and 2015) allows any UN member state to propose adding the name of a terrorist or terror group to a consolidated list, maintained by the Committee, that has affiliations to Al Qaeda and ISIS. India has successfully proposed the listing of several terror entities in the past two decades, including Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba. According to the rules, once a listing is proposed, it will be adopted into the list according to a “no-objections” procedure: which means, if any member of the Committee, which comprises all members of the UN Security Council, places a hold on the listing or objects outright to it, the listing cannot be adopted. As a permanent member of the UNSC, China can do this any number of times as its term doesn’t run out, and it carries a veto vote.

The Committee is bound to resolve all such pending issues within six months, but can allow extensions, meaning that technically at the end of the six-month period, the “holding” country has to decide whether to accept the listing or place a permanent objection to it. However, in practice, many of the listing proposals have had prolonged waits.

What are the reasons China has given for holding the listings?

Since 2001, China has placed holds on a number of listing proposals relating mainly to Pakistan-based groups and their leaders, given the close bilateral ties between the two countries. Most notable was China’s objections to the listing of JeM founder Masood Azhar. Azhar was released from prison by India in 1999 and handed over to terrorists in return for hostages onboard Indian Airlines flight IC-814, which should have left little doubt about Azhar’s own status as a terrorist. While the JeM was listed at the UNSC in 2001, and Azhar was mentioned as the group’s founder, he wasn’t designated for several years. Even after the Parliament attack and the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, China kept placing a hold on the UNSC terror listing proposals for him: in 2009, 2010, 2016-18, claiming it had “inadequate information” on Masood Azhar’s terror activities. In May 2019, three months after the Pulwama attacks that were traced to the JeM, China finally withdrew its hold.

When asked by The Hindu in August this year for a reason for the persistent “holds” on India’s requests for various terror listings, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said they needed “some time to study these specific cases, but that doesn’t mean China has changed its position on counter-terrorism cooperation efforts.” In addition, it is possible that China objects to the listing proposals being brought by a group of countries, especially the joint proposals by India and the U.S. rather than by India alone, but has never given any comprehensive reason for the holds. At the UNSC meet in August, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ruchira Khamboj had called for an end to the practice of placing holds and blocks on listing requests “without giving any justification”. “It is most regrettable that genuine and evidence-based listing proposals pertaining to some of the most notorious terrorists in the world are being placed on hold. Double standards and continuing politicisation have rendered the credibility of the sanctions regime at an all-time low.”

Does India have options?

Since the Mumbai attacks in 2008, India has tried a number of different ways to build international consensus on cross-border terrorism, and the UNSC terror listings have been one such route. While China has blocked many of the listings, there are hundreds of names of terrorists and entities in Pakistan that pose a threat to India. As a UN member state, Pakistan has an obligation under the sanctions to block access for all designated entities to funds, arms and travel outside its jurisdiction.

This is something India has also pursued with the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, where Pakistan was placed on a “grey list” due to its inability to curb terror financing and money laundering from 2012-2015 and 2018-2022. While Pakistan is likely to be taken off that list this week, it has had to carry out several actions against terror entities on its soil, and will continue to be under scrutiny.

Finally, India and the U.S. have built their own separate lists of “most wanted” terrorists that document the cases against them, with a view to eventually receiving global cooperation on banning them.

  • Since 2001, China has placed holds on a number of listing proposals relating mainly to Pakistan-based groups and their leaders, given the close bilateral ties between the two countries
  • Most notable was China’s objections to the listing of JeM founder Masood Azhar. Azhar was released from prison by India in 1999 and handed over to terrorists in return for hostages onboard Indian Airlines flight IC-814, which should have left little doubt about Azhar’s own status as a terrorist
  • Even after the Parliament attack and the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, China kept placing a hold on the UNSC terror listing proposals for him: in 2009, 2010, 2016-18, claiming it had “inadequate information” on Masood Azhar’s terror activities



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