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Policy Brief

Addressing the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Phenomenon From a European Union Perspective

With the outbreak of civil war and sectarian violence in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, over 15,000 men and women from more than 80 countries around the world have left their homes to become foreign fighters. The security challenge they pose is immense and there are concerns about radicalised fighters returning to their countries of origin or residence, hardened by experience and with the possible intent - and the know-how - to engage in terrorist activities.

On 24 September, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2178 (2014) with the support of over 120 states representing a broad cross-section of the UN membership. Resolution 2178 called on all UN member states to ensure increased border security and to screen for or arrest so-called "foreign terrorist fighters" (FTFs) travelling to or returning from conflict areas. Rightly so, it also urges states to counter violent extremism by taking preventive measures, such as engaging with communities at the local level to stop the spread of extremist ideologies.

On 23 October 2014, the Global Center on Cooperative Security, the Human Security Collective, and ICCT convened an expert meeting at the European Union (EU) in Brussels to discuss the implications of the resolution and to explore appropriate and effective responses to the threat of FTFs, both within the EU and as part of the Union’s foreign security and development programming.

Building upon the discussion in Brussels, this policy brief is a compilation of essays from all three organisations on the challenges and opportunities for addressing the FTF threat from a European Union perspective. It also examines the implementation of Resolution 2178 as an integral part of national and multilateral foreign security and development policies and initiatives.

Read the Policy Brief.

How to cite: Global Center on Cooperative Security, Human Security Collective and International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, "Addressing the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Phenomenon from a European Union Perspective: UN Security Council Resolution 2178, Legal Issues, and Challenges and Opportunities for EU Foreign Security and Development Policy". Policy Brief, December 2014.