Paul Madden is the British High Commissioner to Australia.
Australia and Britain been working together to ensure the UN Security Council responds effectively to the serious threat of terrorist kidnap for ransom. Last week saw the Security Council unanimously pass Resolution 2133, its first ever stand-alone resolution on terrorist kidnapping for ransom.
Kidnap for ransom has become the most significant terrorist financing challenge and remains a serious threat to the nationals of all countries in many locations. In the last three and a half years, al Qaida-affiliated and other Islamist extremist groups have collected an estimated US$105 million. These ransom payments have enabled terrorists to increase recruitment, strengthened their ability to organise and carry out terrorist attacks, and incentivised them to carry out more kidnappings.
There had already been push-back on this in the international community. The countries of the African Union have spoken out against payment of ransoms to terrorist groups; some of its members have been among the hardest hit by terrorist attacks partly funded by ransom revenues. G8 Leaders last year also committed to not paying ransoms to terrorist groups.
UNSCR 2133 now needs to be implemented. Of particular importance is the Resolution's ground-breaking call for governments to work with the private sector to respond to this problem. There are plenty of Australian businesses active in challenging parts of the world who no doubt have a great deal to contribute to the debate, so it will be interesting to see how that discussion develops in Australia.
Governments will need to work with each other too, to exchange expertise and experience to help countries resolve kidnap situations without loss of life or making ransom payments. And governments and the people who elect them need to have frank conversations about the consequences of ransom payments, in terms of encouraging further kidnappings of their nationals and providing more funding for terrorist activities.
Photo by Flickr user pni.