US seeks United Nations action to stem flow of ISIS fighters

US seeks United Nations action to stem flow of ISIS fighters

The United States next week will try to secure a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution demanding countries tighten laws to prevent the flow of foreign fighters to terror groups, national security adviser Susan Rice said Friday.

"It will increase the obligations on states to try to prevent and deter the flow of foreign fighters," Rice told reporters at the White House. "It will also place new emphasis on the challenge of countering violent extremism.

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“It will move the ball down the field in terms of the international legal architecture and obligations on states to try to combat this challenge,” she added.

The White House expressed confidence that the resolution would pass easily through a meeting of the Security Council, which President Obama is expected to chair during a visit to New York City next week. This will be only the second time a president has ever chaired a Security Council meeting; Obama ran a session on nuclear proliferation early in his first term.

"I do expect that we will have a successful resolution, which means agreement among at least a majority of member states and no vetoes, but I expect actually it will be a resolution that we’re able to reach unanimity on given the import of the issue," Rice said.

But still unclear is how the resolution could impact countries that don't move quickly enough to prevent their citizens from traveling to other countries to join terror groups.

The issue has gained new urgency as thousands of foreign fighters from Western countries have traveled to the Mideast to take up arms with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Leaders have expressed concern they could travel back to their home countries to carry out terror attacks.

The problem has been particularly pronounced in Turkey, where the government has banned more than 4,000 individuals from reentry based on intelligence information suggesting they have joined extremist groups. 

But the White House declined to say whether Turkey, a NATO ally, could face sanctions under the Security Council resolution. Rice said the resolution would be written under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which gives the Security Council authority to punish violations with economic penalties or military force.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said the resolution wasn’t being pushed "to coerce other people to do things."

"The Security Council merely provides a convenient venue for talking about these issues in a high-profile way," Earnest said. "We want to make sure that countries all around the globe understand that we think this is a priority and that they should too."