The United States on Monday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on foreign militants fighting with groups like Islamic State because it did not address repatriation, an issue that has long pitted Washington against its European allies.
The other 14 council members voted in favor of the resolution drafted by Indonesia, isolating the United States.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, said the draft text aiming to reinforce international action on counterterrorism “was worse than no resolution at all.”
“It fails to even include reference to the crucial first step – repatriation to countries of origin or nationality,” she said. “The United States will not participate in such a cynical and willfully oblivious farce.”
The U.S. veto comes after Indonesia, council president for August, last week dismissed Washington’s attempt to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran because 13 members had expressed their opposition to the move.
The United States wants foreign militants sent home and either prosecuted or rehabilitated there. European states, however, have been reluctant to try their nationals at home, citing difficulty in collecting evidence, concerns about a public backlash and the risk of fresh attacks on European soil.
Thousands of foreign militants from dozens of countries are being held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria. The Kurdish-led forces also hold tens of thousands of Syrian and foreign women and children – family members of suspected militants – in squalid camps.
The draft resolution encouraged states to facilitate “the return of the children to their countries of origin, as appropriate and on a case by case basis.”
A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office said: “We regret the resolution was not adopted. We are working closely with international partners to reduce the risk posed to us collectively by foreign fighters.”