In the past three and a half years, terror groups tied to al-Qaeda have raked in an estimated $105 million via ransom, Britain's ambassador to the UN says—and the UN Security Council wants those payments to end. Though countries are already legally banned from making such payments, it's not clear that governments always stick to the rules, the BBC reports. So the 15-member Security Council yesterday unanimously passed a resolution pushing countries to halt the practice, though the New York Times notes the resolution is not enforceable.
It's "imperative that we take steps to ensure that kidnap for ransom is no longer perceived as a lucrative business model and that we eliminate it as a source of terrorist financing," says British UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant. "We need to break that cycle." The October release of French hostages taken in Niger three years ago was paired with reports of a possible $26 million ransom payment, though the government rejected the claims. Hostage takers "distinguish between those governments that pay ransoms and those that do not," says US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, and they "make a point" of not taking hostages from countries that won't pay up. The UN's resolution doesn't relate to all kidnappers—just terrorist groups, the Times adds.